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|Executive producer of "Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead"
So what is there to do in Denver when you're Dead? Well, Hollywood, particularly Miramax officials say, make a movie in Denver's historic Five Points neighborhood.
As the torrid August 95 degree sun beats down (Denver's hottest summer on record.), surprisingly without an entourage, wearing a tailored fitted black suit, dapper Andy Garcia leaves his trailer parked on Welton Street, after several hours in make-up. He escorts a scantily dressed Gabrielle Anwar down Welton's 2500 block. Passerbys give the pair an occasional glance -- no big deal. They've seen it all before. He's been filming in the neighborhood for several weeks. Garcia is at ease walking through the Points during his last day of filming. Suddenly, he stops, and steps aside to let Anwar enter the refurbished Five Points' Casino Cabaret.
The sweltering heat outside and especially inside the Cabaret (The electrical wires for air conditioning were severed when a car on Welton Street ran over them several hours ago), isn't enough to melt a cool Andy Garcia as he walks past a group of extras sitting in the Cabaret's hallway cooling themselves with paper fans. The red lights are low inside the Cabaret, and the design of the set makes you feel like you've been whisked back 30 years. The director yells, quite on the set, and the band in the scene starts playing as Garcia, now sitting at a table with Anwar, says his lines.
Garcia portrays, Jimmy the Saint, a gangster who takes one last job on the promise his future will be clear of any ties to his mobster past. Unfortunately, things backfire, or there probably wouldn't be a movie. Right?
Executive producer Marie Cantin, who produced "The Water Dance," staring Wesley Snipes and co-produced "Heart Condition," staring Denzel Washington, says she first came to Denver in April scouting locations for Dead In Denver.
Cantin explains that the movie "Things To Do in Denver When You're Dead" (title of a Warren Zevon song), does take place in Denver, however the producers initially felt, in terms of production value, they could film in Los Angeles and make it look like Denver. They finally decided, though, that it would be better to film in the mile high city, taking advantage of the city-scape. The company did, however, shoot a few scenes in LA.
"We weren't sure whether we were going to shoot in Denver, LA or Salt Lake City," she says. "Then we went to Salt Lake City and realized it was nothing like Denver."
So why the Five Points district?
"The first time we drove around the city," Cantin says, "we looked at different neighborhoods, looking for a suitable place where we could set the heart of the story. When we came to Five Points there was just something about the area, in terms of how it looks. It's not just that you're in an old part of town looking back to see the city in the background. Five Points is just very unique. So we decided that this was the right place."
Five Points Business Association officials say the movie brought welcomed revenue to the community -- especially the renting of empty buildings.
"We found the Rossonian Hotel (Across from the Casino Cabaret.) and thought that would be great to use as the set of the ice cream parlor where a lot of the story takes place," Cantin says. "After we made our first trip to Denver, we took photographs, and showed them to the other producers in LA. They liked the area too."
Cantin describes, "Things To Do in Denver When You're Dead" as a contemporary story, but in terms of the film's styling, there's a certain timeliness about it that doesn't place it to any one period.
She explains that the timeliness wasn't a conscious thing. It evolved from the story through the dialogue and the way the characters spoke their lines and, too, the unique look the picture took on during filming. If you walk around the Rossonian, where they built the ice cream parlor set, you'd think you were transported back to 1955.
"You have these naturalistic kind of characters that look and sound a certain way. The environment sounds a certain way, and what's happening, in terms of the story and in terms of how they talk to each other, is from some other place. It's given the film a certain quality, a life of it's own."