If nothing else, “Mission Park,” the new film from Bryan Anthony Ramirez, delivers the message that no one should define their life by a single day. Yet, the four main characters in this story can trace their individual life journeys back to a single, unfortunate, and tragic childhood moment.
Here, Jeremy Ray Valdez (“Dreamer”) plays Bobby, a young man who attends the FBI Academy with his childhood friend Julian (Will Rothhaar). Two other friends, Jason (Walter Perez) and Derek (Joseph Julian Soria), end up on the other side of the law, however.
When reached by phone, actor Jeremy Ray Valdez talked about effective use of flashbacks in “Mission Park” as well as the incredible performances of his co-stars.
Bobby, your character in this film, really wants to do good; he wants to make up for past mistakes, but circumstances go beyond his control.
Bobby knows the right thing to do and he wants to take the right road. He wants to make things right in his life and his surroundings because of what went down when he was a kid and how he is tied to that. He sees the negative ways that Jason and Derek have led their lives. It’s how [Bobby] says in the film: “All you do is take and hurt.”
This is one of my favorite things about the movie: what director Bryan Ramirez did with his use of flashbacks to tell the backstory. They are brief flashbacks—some of them last 15 seconds, 30 seconds. How he uses those flashbacks to show how their childhood has created who they are.
With the Jason character, he sees his mother get shot and then his father shoots himself in the mouth. Then the Derek character played by J.J. Soria-you see how he is treated by his mother as a small child. It really connects you to that character. The Julian character, his parents [overdosed] and he didn’t want to go down that path.
At first, I thought the Derek character was unredeemable, but I really could identify with him by the end of the film.
[Derek] has that monologue at the end of the film, and people really fall in love with the character, even though he is a bad guy. People really connect with that character because of the words that he said: “I just wanted to be accepted. I didn’t have any friends.”
I think everyone in their life feels that way at one time or another, feels like an outsider. And that can be a really powerful feeling. It can be debilitating to feel like an outsider or to feel unaccepted. J.J. Soria does a really great job of conveying that.
Did you originally go into “Mission Park” with the Bobby character in mind, or did you have your eye on another role?
Bryan Ramirez, the writer/director, had given the script to [producer] Douglas Spain and said “Hey, I want to get this film made. Help make this film.” And Bryan had seen my work in “La Mission” that I did with Benjamin Bratt. He said “Could you get this script to Jeremy?”
Douglas, being a really good friend, said “I have a script I want you to read.” I read it and said “Hey, this is a cool story.” More often than not, I am cast as the Bobby-type character, whether it be in television or film: usually the good guy: the young cop or the young lawyer or the guy out there to do good.