The Salesman of the "south loop"

Walking the tightrope of promoting an independent film

By Armando Ochoa
Published on LatinoLA: May 22, 2011

The Salesman of the "south loop"

I asked a question and ten minutes later, I still didn't have an answer. Having a conversation with, Juan Diego Ramirez, is like watching a conductor orchestrate a symphony. "I'm sorry, I talk with my hands," says Ramirez.

He's maybe the champion of the ramble, but what is evident about Ramirez is his passion for film. Whether it's discussing his latest film, "south loop", premiering May 30th at the Downtown Independent or his favorite film of all time, Michael Mann's 1995 film "Heat," let me just tell you, the man can talk your ear off about movies.

"I've always wanted to start a movie club. You know, invite a small group of people over to the house. We watch a different movie every week and we just talk about it. But I need to get a new couch before I do that. I'm going to get around to it, one day. I swear," says Ramirez.

Ramirez remembers the exact moment he wanted to be an actor, "It was in the fifth grade, I stayed home from school and my uncle had left two movies on top of the VCR. "The Godfather" and "Scarface", the De Palma version. I saw those movies back to back and I was blown away by the fact, that the same guy was Michael Corleone and Tony Montana. And then I said to myself, I want to do what he does!"

And that is exactly what Ramirez is doing now as he has produced his first feature film, "south loop". "south loop" starts off in 2005, where Rick Torres, played by Ramirez, quickly becomes one of the most successful realtors in his company with the help of his girlfriend, Teresa. As the sales pile up, Rick is quick to leave Teresa for a luxurious condo in the South Loop, Chicago's emerging neighborhood. Rick soon meets and falls hard for Cynthia, a recent transplant to the city. But it is now 2007 and the real estate market plummets, affecting not only Rick's sales but his relationship with Cynthia as well. Rick finds he could now lose everything he worked so hard for.

Ramirez doesn't call "south loop" a passion project, he says, "it was a necessity. 'south loop' kept, Rangel and I from going crazy." John A. Rangel, is the writer, director and one of the other producers on the film. "Rangel and I have known each for 10 years and we enjoy working with each other. Finally, the frustration of not being able to get our films made got to us and we decided to put up the money ourselves."

"south loop" is truly an independent film. Ramirez and Rangel, not only financed the film themselves but they are distributing the film, a very daunting task in today's world, where if a movie doesn't open big, it's destined for failure.

Ramirez is betting on himself. He knows it's going to be a very arduous task to turn a small film into a big success. "Look, we're not dumb. We know the odds are against us. But why not? We do we got to lose? You make your own opportunities. We know, nobody is going to come knock on our door and make us famous. I wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror if we didn't at least try it. All the artist's I admire have taken chances. I'd be a hypocrite, if I didn't practice what I preach."

As the L.A. premiere approaches, Ramirez, can't seem to contain his excitement, he says, "Look, this why you make movies, for people to see them. I want people to like it. I want people to see our work. I'm proud of it. "south loop" is something different. When people see "south loop", they're going to see something interesting and hopefully they'll remember it."

I've heard actor's say, all they need is passion and a plank. Well, Ramirez, has passion and a screen. Sitting down with him has piqued my interest. Is "south loop" the next masterpiece? Or is it a film that I will forget as soon as I leave the theater? Either way, it's invigorating to watch someone walk the tightrope without a net. On May 30th, Ramirez and company, will be on that tightrope and the people in that theater will bear witness to a death defying feat or a gruesome fall.

SOUTH LOOP will show on Monday, May 30, 2011, from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at The Downtown Independent located at 251 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

Tickets are $10 at the door and online. Director/Cast Q & A and after party to follow the screening.



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