Alex Ibarra remembers the first movie he ever made. He was 10 years old and had just finished watching “Gone in 60 Seconds,” which inspired him to direct his own spin-off of the film — complete with chase scenes featuring little hands and toy cars.
From becoming a Pitman High School graduate in 2012 to studying cinematic arts and technology at California State University, Monterey Bay, Ibarra’s passion for filmmaking instilled in him at a young age has now led the young creative to Australia, where he’s spent the last two years filming his movie “Daniel, the Goodboy.”
“It’s been awesome. I’ve never done anything like this before,” Ibarra said. “It’s been cool creatively, because even the buildings and everything look different here...it’s a really unique place that changes your perspective and gets the creative juices flowing. It’s been a cool, fun adventure stepping out of my comfort zone.”
Ibarra is the director and writer of the film, which was inspired by a poster Ibarra noticed in his grandfather’s study. It tells of a Native American legend, in which a Cherokee elder shares with his grandson the story of the two wolves that live inside each of us: one evil wolf, who represents anger, sorrow, regret and other undesirable traits, and another good wolf, which stands for joy, peace, love and other benevolent traits.
“The boy asks which wolf wins and his grandfather tells him, ‘Whichever one you choose to feed more,’” Ibarra said. “I always thought that was kind of cool, so that’s the thesis of the film.”
In “Daniel, the Goodboy,” the main character struggles with choosing to continue his seemingly picture-perfect life or giving in to the other side of himself which is slowly driving him mad.
“The character is in a happy relationship with his girlfriend and content in life, but then there’s another side of him that wants more and is searching for more,” Ibarra said. “He starts listening and talking to his demons, literally, and the more he feeds that side, his world becomes more surreal and dark.”
Along with a group of other young filmmakers, Ibarra has worked on producing and shooting the film in between other responsibilities and on the weekends. The team has shot about 32 scenes over the past two years and has around 10 more to go.
“It’s been a lot of sleepless nights,” he said. “We’re always doing something before or after work, then finally we get Saturday and Sunday to shoot.”
The original plan was for “Daniel, the Goodboy” to be completed later this year, but the pandemic put a stop to those plans. Now, Ibarra has to wait until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in Australia before the crew can continue to shoot. Then, the plan is to send it off to film festivals like Cannes so that live audiences can weigh in.
“I’ve spent so long shooting it and working on the production that I don’t want to rush anything in post-production,” Ibara said. “We’ve got an amazing composer working on the film, so we’ll take our time doing the music and sound design...There’s a bit more to shoot, but so far I’m enthusiastic and really excited about it all.”
The film crew has been funding the film’s production on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis, he added, but a recently-created GoFundMe page has raised about 50 percent of the team’s total goal. This has been extremely helpful in moving the project along since Ibarra lost his job due to the pandemic.
For young filmmakers in Turlock and beyond, Ibarra offered a few words of advice: Just do it.
“My problem back when I was at Pitman was that I really wanted to do it and make more films, but I would write a lot and prep for it a lot then wouldn't actually execute. I would just keep saying, ‘It’s not ready, it’s not ready.’ At a certain point you have to say, ‘Let’s just do it,’” he said. “Start small and once you do that first one, then the next one becomes easier. It’s like anything in life.”For more information about “Daniel, the Goodboy,” visit www.danielthegoodboy.com. To donate to the film’s GoFundMe fundraiser, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/daniel-the-goodboy-indie-feature-film?fbclid=IwAR11Bqem1HSEt8uYZtqV8XHfnzhZMOcsAR4bvjx6oIzzpe3o9qgKPEFhshE