Article 2 of 2 by Stacey Doud
The 24-minute short film, “Illegal,” which was written, directed, produced and brought to life by a cast and crew that reside in Dallas/Fort Worth, premiered on Facebook and YouTube on Friday June 12.
The story is about a fictional Hispanic man, Felix Martinez, who allegedly stole over $500 in gaming merchandise for his son’s birthday and was arrested because he took the goods out of the store because he was allegedly going to get a credit card from his wife, who was in a car in the parking lot. He did not speak English, nor did his wife.
The body of the film is set in the jury deliberation room, where six people had to decide Martinez’s crime and punishment, which could include deportation for him, but not necessarily for his children, who were both born in the United States.
Director Edgar Arreola, whose acting credits include Guillermo in Sicario (2015) starring Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin; and proudly working beside Tom Hardy in his latest release, Capone (2020), directed by Josh Trank; as well as roles in 2 Guns (2013), featuring Golden Globe winner Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, and Edward James Olmos. Other projects include Machete (2010) and Machete Kills (2013) with Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofía Vergara, and with Kevin Sorbo in Walking Tall: Lone Justice (2007).
Arreola, who has lived in the Dallas area for 30 years, shared his take on Dallas, as well as the film.
“Dallas is my home. I have made my acting career from Dallas. I’ve lived in Los Angeles, but then I came to Dallas because everyone was [very different] in LA. The funny thing is that my whole career I have made from Dallas. Aspiring actors think they need to go to LA to get work. That’s not true. My career has probably been slower to develop than some people in LA, but I’m not in a big rush,” Arreola said.
“After I read the script [for Illegal], as weird as this may sound, I was attracted to the ending. I like it because I want people to feel a bit frustrated, which could lead to conversations and discussions about these issues. The script itself was good, but what drove me to directing it was the ending.
“I am all for people having their own opinions and to build up their own ending. It’s a very personal choice because we can all have different points of view. I think every person, regardless of color and status, is always going to have a different perspective as to why this should/should not happen or why this did/did not happen. That was something that really impassioned me to direct the film because as I was reading it, I was already visualizing what I wanted to do.
“As far as me relating to the script [as a Mexican American], I probably had a connection to about 20-30%. I was making my mind up as I was reading. I was trying not to get personal with it, but to stay objective, so what happened in the film was for the sake of the film. I tried to detach myself from it in certain ways. I’m not going to say that some things didn’t made me mad or whatever, but you have to disconnect yourself and put your personal feelings to the side as a director, producer or an actor.
“The actors that we had were amazing and it was very easy for me to direct them because we were all professionals. They knew exactly what the perspective was from our end, as in from behind the camera’s point of view.
“The cinematography was amazing, too. I had a wonderful cinematographer. From the minute we started production, this guy was reading my mind. Sometimes we would have discrepancies, and I would say, ‘I want this done because this and that,’ and he would totally understand where I was coming from,” Arreola explained.
This short film was Arreola’s first directing job, though he has co-directed in the past. He also offers acting classes every Wednesday evening at his studio in Garland. For more information about classes, visit http://earrtistic.com/.