No excuses. If you’re an emerging writer, director, or actor, make your movie. You have a literal camera in the palm of your hands. But, at the same time, don’t get involved with the mob. Rodney Rinks is one such filmmaker, and Made in Mexico is his film about making a movie.
Writer/director Rinks (and co-director Ronli Forcell) also stars as struggling writer Joe “Pepe” Aguilar. Joe has a fantastic script; now, all he needs is that elusive “big break.” The problem is Joe begins making one rookie mistake after the next. The first domino falls when he sells his script to a pair of semi-famous actors, who essentially screw him over. Joe then asks his buddy to shake down the actors. Unfortunately, this friend works for the Mexican drug lord Armando Ochoa (Lillo Brancato), who demands $50 grand for his services. Of course, Joe doesn’t have it.
Armando kidnaps Joe and takes him to his compound in Mexico. However, Joe can repay his debt if he takes his cellphone, and writes, directs, and edits a movie about Armando’s life… within a week. Joe reluctantly agrees and begins his filmmaking adventure. If Joe can keep his head down and finish the job, he’ll be back with his wife, Elizabeth (Rana McAnear), and his three kids by Sunday.
With Made In Mexico, Rodney Rinks made his movie. There are elements of the final product that are good and not-so-good, which is not an uncommon problem for low-budget indie filmmakers. So let’s work our way up. First, the cinematography is a bit too basic. The shot composition is standard and uninspired for most of the movie. That said, wherever the film was shot, the Cartel compound looks amazing, and the filmmaker makes great use of his location.
“…Joe can repay his debt if he takes his cellphone, and writes, directs, and edits a movie about Armando’s life…within a week…”
Storywise, our tale lacks a big enough character arc for Joe and Armando to make their stories compelling. Joe is essentially a guy who is thrust into an impossible situation and uses his guerilla filmmaking skills to piece together a movie without being killed in the process. The narrative needs to lean into some aspect of Joe’s conundrum. There has to be more than just wanting to survive the experience. Does he take this opportunity to become a great filmmaker? Or does he learn a greater lesson about family and ambition? Take a big idea for Joe and weave the plot around it.
On the positive side, Made in Mexico is a fun story about making movies. Rinks finds the fun in the plot of a Grade-A Narcissist and finds the humor in his life-and-death production. However, when Armando wants to bring “authenticity” to an execution scene, things get all too real. As crazy as Joe’s situation gets, it all leads to a feel-good ending. I like that Joe is able to power through his precarious situation through his writing and with the problem-solving skills of an indie filmmaker, which many of our readers know a lot about. I want to also mention Brancato as Armando. The actor finds a good balance between being a cold-blooded killer and a sympathetic star in his biopic.
Made in Mexico is a fun movie with very light humor strung throughout. Though I wish the comedy was much darker and the characters had more of an arc.
Made in Mexico is currently available on major VOD platforms. Visit the Made in Mexico official website for more details.
"…a fun movie..."