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Joe Amable-Amo is a bank executive and former amateur golfer struggling with his faith after an unexpected tragedy. Faced with doubts about himself, his purpose and his belief in God, Joe is stunned when God tells him that he’s been chosen to inspire the world and play in a world championship golf tournament. Guided by God’s eccentric personal messenger, Herb, Joe learns that the seemingly impossible is possible through faith, family and second chances.
The movie was completed in December of 2019 with a first major screening planned in Los Angeles in March 2020. Las Cruces based director Ross Marks and other cast and crew members were on their way, flying in from across the country. The studio said no at the very last moment, the pandemic had begun, “Walking With Herb,” stopped in its tracks.
“We were really scrambling to figure out how to release during a pandemic,” Marks said. “I believe movies are made to be watched on a big screen experience.”
Now, more than a year later, the distributers have a plan and the movie will hit the big screen first in April. In a time when only about half of the 40,000 movie screens in the United States are open, “Walking with Herb” will open in 1,000 to 2,000 theaters across the nation.
In Las Cruces the Allen family will again open the Telshor drive-in for two weeks to open the film on its release date, April 30, in New Mexico. A special Las Cruces premier will take place on April 29 with a dine-in fundraiser for a local charity.
It will also be available in El Paso theaters.
Marks said he always wanted to make a faith bases movie. Marks’ friend, Las Cruces author Joe Bullock, wrote the book, “Walking With Herb” and Marks was inspired.
“This one all starts with the material,” he said. “I wrote a screenplay. Then, like everything I’ve done in past 33 years, I showed, it to Mark Medoff.”
Tony Award winning Playwright and agnostic Medoff read the screenplay and thought the idea was great, Marks said. Medoff then took over the writing and, after several drafts, the two felt they had something to show.
“We really wanted to make the movie a celebration of Las Cruces,” Marks said.
They changed the lead character to a Latino male, and thought, “Who is the best Latin actor in their 70s?” and the name, Edward James Olmos came up. Marks knew Olmos and sent him the script. He loved it and said yes.
Then they thought, “How would God’s messenger appear to a Latino and who is the perfect comedic Latino actor?” and they sent the script to George Lopez, and he said yes.
“This never happens,” Marks said. “The first one never says ‘yes.’ Both our first choices said ‘yes.’”
So, with Bullock’s help, Medoff and Marks found local investors and created this movie as a “real Las Cruces project,” he said. Actress Kathleen Quinlan rounds out the cast.
“This is exactly the type of movie that people need,” Marks said. “We had 250,000 views on the trailer with comments like, ‘I need something uplifting in my life right now.’ It’s a feel good, upbeat, inspirational story.”
The film is dedicated to Medoff who died April 23, 2019, without seeing the final product.
Marks said when they started making the film, he had recently come out of a dark place in his life. Having made a dark film about three guys in jail, he wanted to go in the opposite direction.
“I wanted something good and positive,” He said. “This one earned a PG rating. It’s really a tremendous family film. I wanted to make a movie parallel to my experience from darkness to the light. This was very cathartic and therapeutic.”
Tickets can be found at FathomEvents.com or WalkingWithHerbMovie.com. The Las Cruces April 29 premier fundraiser event will be held at 5 p.m. at AmadorLive Eatery & Entertainment District. Tickets, tables and sponsorships are available for purchase online at give.jardinlc.org/walkingwithherb or by calling 575-522-2111.