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CMI theater to screen LionsGate film featuring NMSU personnel

"Gunfight at La Mesa," a LionsGate Films release, was shot in Las Cruces, Mesilla and La Mesa, with the help of a cadre of local talent and resources, including equipment and personnel from New Mexico State University and the Creative Media Institute. There will be a screening of the film at the CMI theater at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 8.

The movie poster for "Gunfight at La Mesa." The film was shot locally and features talent from the area including NMSU faculty members. (Poster courtesy Walker Haynes)

A Stream In The Desert Productions chose the picturesque landscape of southern New Mexico as a fitting backdrop for the movie. Walker Haynes, the movie's producer, has had a longtime family friendship with Dr. Joe and Mrs. Rusty Armstrong, who offered the production unlimited access to their horse ranch in La Mesa.

CMI professor Mark Medoff allowed for the use of CMI's resources, and ultimately recommended Richard Rundell, NMSU Languages and Linguistics department head, for one of the supporting roles in the film.

"It's great to see young filmmakers in our part of the country with the courage to make movies and fulfill their dreams," Medoff said.

Other local talent includes Steve Mellroth, Albuquerque native Janae Collins, El Paso's Bob Snead, Brennan Patrick and Josh Deslongchamps.

Scott Moore, of the Las Cruces Film Commission, procured the majority of the Las Cruces locations as well as a period automobile as a picture car. Dan Hassell, an NMSU-A sociology instructor, served as a location coordinator for a portion of the shoot.

"Gunfight at La Mesa" is a classic revenge plot western, set in the 1930s, and filled with heroes and villains, action, suspense, mystery, gunfights and showdowns. The protagonist, Tate Noble, returns home to discover who killed his parents and to seek revenge. His childhood friend Samuel, now the sheriff of La Mesa, aids in the search, and the two throw their lot in with an unlikely source in order to uncover the identity of the man ultimately responsible and still on the loose.

The movie was shot on a shoestring budget, with a skeletal crew and a 21-day shooting schedule. Production began the summer of 2006, and after 12 days, the crew took a hiatus until the summer of 2007. After the second summer of shooting, the company did three days of reshoots and pick-ups in Los Angeles. Haynes took the next year to edit the movie.

Upon completion, "Gunfight at La Mesa" hit the festival circuit, first playing at the 2008 New Mexico Film Expo, then at the Macon Film & Video Festival, and finally, winning the Award of Merit at the 2009 Indie Fest. Grindstone Entertainment saw the movie, and bought the rights to release it on DVD through LionsGate Films on May 18, 2010.

"The successful release of this movie is a fitting testimony to the generosity of the wonderful people of the greater Las Cruces area who contributed to the completion of 'Gunfight At La Mesa,'" Haynes said.

Located in Los Angeles, A Stream In The Desert Productions is currently in pre-production on "Hurricane Season," the next film project. "Gunfight At La Mesa" is the first feature length endeavor for Haynes and Chris Fickley, the movie's director.

For more information on the production, contact Walker Haynes at (310) 722-6156 or pomaikai@gmail.com. For more information on the screening, contact Walter Zakahi at wzakahi@nmsu.edu.