Tag Archives: breaking bad

RJ Mitte

By Winter Flack

Back in New Mexico, after traveling the country, RJ Mitte feels like he returned home. Here in Albuquerque for Albuquerque Comic Expo (ACE), Mitte has a smile on his face, but the expo isn’t the only thing that has bought him back to the Land of Enchantment. He has a new project in the pipeline that is close to his heart, out here in the beautiful southwest.

Mitte first time out as an executive producer is for the film, Vanished: The Tara Calico Story. Having known the family of this nineteen year old who went missing without a trace, Mitte wanted to help bring peace to this small town in New Mexico and bring closure to the families involved in the 25 year-old mystery. Tara Calico of Belen, New Mexico disappeared one day while riding her bike never to be seen or heard from again. “Having a little sister, and knowing this could happened to her, made me want to bring awareness to people of the danger”. This project differs in so many ways from what people know RJ Mitte for. He’s not acting or being a spokesperson. He is helping to give a voice to someone who hasn’t had one in a long time. In the film he made it clear that the people they interview will do the talking and provide evidence. There will be no fancy editing or trying to point blame on his of the project, his goal, to bring truth to light for this missing girl and her family and closure to a cold case. Not what most people would expect from Walter White’s on screen son, but he did start out on Hannah Montana so he has a soft spot for Disney endings when ever possible.
At the ripe old age of twelve RJ moved with his family from Texas to LA so his younger sister could pursue a career in Hollywood. Initially all RJ planned for his Los Angeles adventure was to go to school and make some friends, but one day while looking for a new agent for his sister he received a proposal he couldn’t refuse. The agent wanted him to work in Hollywood. To RJ amazement he began doing background on tween televisions show while take acting lesson four times a week. “It was a whirlwind”. With in six months he landed a role on A&E’s Breaking Bad. He played Walter White JR the son of soon to be drug king pin of Albuquerque Walter White SR. The character suffered from a minor case of cerebral palsy like RJ himself.

The pilot for Breaking Bad will always be RJ’s favorite episode even through there were so many great times on the set. The first episode everyone knew they had something special going. “It was such a wealth of knowledge to work such amazing people.” Breaking Bad will always hold a special place in the hearts of the fans and the people who worked on the show. It was the first show of it’s kind, even promoting a funeral for the main character of the show, a fundraiser for healthcare for the homeless.

RJ also used the recognition he garnered from the show to speak out about cerebral palsy and how disabilities can affect people. “I don’t really think about it (cerebral palsy), in all honest”. He just wants to be seen as RJ doing whatever RJ is doing at the moment, he never took into account his disability. In his latest role on ABC Family’s Switch at Birth RJ plays a character confined to a wheel chair. “My new role I’m playing a paraplegic, I’m progressively getting worse”. Playing a paraplegic on set opened RJ eyes to how differently people with physical disabilities are treated by some. He’s not worried about being type cast in the role, because he makes the decisions on what roles he takes and when.

In the spirit of ACE RJ thinks he would make a great super villain. He wants to keep growing creating and trying new things whenever he can. When asked what he wants to leave behind for a legacy “I will always be a Breaking Bad kid. I already have a legacy even though it might fade”. Beyond Breaking Bad RJ wants to make a positive difference in the world and make sure his family is always provided for.
Growing changing and moving forward I the focus of RJ Mitte’s life, but he will always have a soft spot for his second home here in Albuquerque, and it will always have a soft spot for him. New Mexico hopes to see RJ back here again and again over his career in all the different roles he will be playing.

Check out more at NMEntertains.com

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Filed under Albuquerque, Comedy, Entertainment, Television, Walter White

New Mexico Film Conference

New Mexico Film Conference, held over two days at the Albuquerque Hotel, was not at all what I was expecting. Walking in, the Breaking Bad Tour RV is sitting out front, enticing people to go for a ride. You have a sales pitch to the visitors on why to film in New Mexico. Once inside, vendors line the wall for any production assistance you may need, and the ones you haven’t thought of. Panel discussion are separated from the masses in smaller comfortable rooms. Being a novice to films, I might just learn something here, and learn I did.

I sat in on the taxation panel to start with. I learned the ins and outs from how to set up your production company to what qualifies and what doesn’t. The most important thing I took away from this panel was if you even have an idea that you might want to make a film here in New Mexico, contact the New Mexico Film Office and they will be a great resource for you.

Back out on the floor, I talk to people set up at different tables from schools to equipment rentals. With a warm smile, I am told about the Media Arts Collaborative Charter School in Albuquerque dedicate to digital development. From films to video games, they teach children the regular academics and more, with small class sizes. Another table gives me price list for renting a soundstage at Nob Hill Studios. Yet another table gives me a price list and details on how to rent camera equipment in New Mexico. You can plan your budget right here in the hotel, and if you’re still not sure, there will be a panel on budget planning happening as well.
The final key to why this conference should be a must for anyone interested in film is the social groups that attend. I met some lovely ladies from Women in Film New Mexico. The name may be misleading since you can be a member as a male also. This group helps writers, actors, and many others, find a community network of people to help you hone your craft and maneuver the sea that is film. They have monthly meetings in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. There were also groups from Roswell Film Festival and a Dark Matters horror film festival coming up here in Albuquerque.

The conference answered questions I didn’t previously even know to ask. The panels were made up of well-educated people, dedicated to helping us all understand the laws and the hurdles of filming in New Mexico. We will be following up in later articles with some of the key speakers from this year’s conference, so for those who thought making a movie or being a part of one was out of reach, will find out that you can make it happen right here at home.

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Breaking Out Of Breaking Bad Steven Michael Quezada

Albuquerque Botanical Gardens

Albuquerque Botanical Gardens

A cool breeze rustles through leaves overhead. Branches grow wrapped around beams forming a pavilion over our heads. Anticipation fills the air. Our camera crew hurriedly checks camera positioning and lighting. The interviewer sits in makeup going over his questions for today’s esteemed guest. Everybody looks on as a woman from Texas passes nearby wearing a Heisenberg t-shirt. With knowing smiles, we all nod to one another. The hustle is not new to us – it’s all in the job description – but today’s guest is different and everyone can feel it. “A local boy made good,” some might say; others consider him the good guy on their favorite television show, but to us he is the interview of the year.

We’ve all seen the show on AMC.  It began five years ago in the desert outside Albuquerque. In a now-famous RV, a man in his underwear drives off, leaving a pair of jeans to float to the desert floor. A desperate teacher with lung cancer wants to leave money behind for his family. Most of us have followed it over the last few years and shed tears when it came to an end this past month. We watched our favorite characters grow and change over the course of the show – some becoming better people, most doing the opposite. Our guest today, Steven Michael Quezada, aka DEA agent Steven Gomez has the distinction of being the only character on the show that didn’t “break bad”.

Everybody wants to know how do you break away from a show with such a loyal fan following as Breaking Bad has had. Steven is here to talk about what came before Breaking Bad, the show itself and what is coming up for him in the future.

Being a native New Mexican from right here in Albuquerque, Steven had to work for everything he’s achieved. Coming from a large family, he had no prospects for higher education and was left unprepared for it after going through the Albuquerque Public School (APS) system. But he didn’t let that stop him. By the end of his high school career, he had secured himself a scholarship to Eastern New Mexico State University to major in acting. He dreamed of acting on stage in front of thousands. It took him only three years to complete his degree before he moved off to Hollywood. It wasn’t long before he discovered that Hollywood wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Being a Latino actor, there were limited roles available to him, and none that were a stretch. Homesick and tired of the stereotypical casting, he returned to his hometown of Albuquerque where he became involved in Community Theater. Even here in the Land of Enchantment there were limited roles for Latinos and most were not new or original. When suggesting the theater look for new plays, he was fired on the spot from his volunteer position.

Most people would let that dishearten them and drag them down, but not Steven. His response was to write his own play. He looked to his brother Richard for inspiration His brother had been born with a hole in his heart so he wasn’t able to participate in sports and activities like other kids his age. Instead, he spent his time studying and expanding his mind.  The other family members would tease him about being the first Chicano president. This led him to pen his first play of the same name: The First Chicano President. An engaging story about a man surrounded by the best and brightest and his subsequent rise to president, the play shows anyone with the right motivation can be anything they want to be.

Armed with his newly penned script, Steven cast himself in the lead role and filled in the rest of the cast. The play was a hit and sold out every night it was performed. In the end, Steven wrote a total of four plays and sold the movie rights for The First Chicano President in order to pay for his wedding. Like many other struggling actors, the stage was not paying his bills so he began to look for other ways to use his talents which led him to stand-up comedy. He had a great first show, with the crowd roaring with laughter.  He claims it was like no other feeling. The second night didn’t go as well as the first, but he stuck with it. With blood, sweat, tears, and a dash of luck, he made it onto the Southwest comedy circuit and turned a possible one night stand into a career.

As his successes increased, Steven began to think about how to help others get out there and get noticed. In 2010, he began his own television show called The After, After Party with Steven Michael Quezada. This locally-operated show was designed to showcase talent here in New Mexico. That wasn’t enough for Steven. He gathered kids from the middle schools and high school to learn how to run the cameras, lights and sound systems. In this way, he was training them for a career in film, a burgeoning industry here in New Mexico. At the same time, he was also working with a charity called Youth Development Incorporated (YDI). YDI works with underprivileged kids to help them get an education in the art of filmmaking. YDI helps 12,200 direct clients every year and another 10,000 through outreach programs. In 2008, Steven arranged a softball tournament between the cast and crews of Breaking Bad and In Plain Sight for a fundraising event.

Obviously a man who has a drive to work, he joined the board of a charter school in Albuquerque that his children attend. For those who don’t know how the local school system here works, APS has regular schools K-12, and with most charter schools starting in sixth grade with a few elementary schools through out the city. These charter schools usually have a specific focus such as art or math and they often have specially designed schedules to help the children that attend them to excel.

One night his daughter asked him why he did so much for just the one charter school when there were so many kids out there who deserved help. She though he could do more to help. Steven said that would require running for a public office and asked his family if they were prepared to be public figures. They happily agreed and today Steven sits on the APS board in District 5.

Just recently, he was approached by Direct TV to air his After After Party show nationally on a Direct TV channel. Direct TV still plans on showcasing the talent in New Mexico as their main focus. They also want to show the big studios that Albuquerque has talented people here in front of and behind the camera. By hiring local crews, they will save money and qualify for more tax breaks in the state. It’s a win-win for everyone.

After talking about the man behind giving so much to the community, he switched gears to talk about his beloved character Steven Gomez. When the show first began to shoot here in New Mexico, the character of Steve Gomez was brought in for comic relief in the emotionally troubling show. The whole first season, only he and Jesse shared the ability to relieve stress in the show. With the popularity of the show on the rise, no one saw the writer’s strike coming. It brought the shows production to a halt along with many other shows. While most people were sad, this was music to the ears of Steve Gomez, and a reprieve from certain death.

Both Steve Gomez and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) were due to be killed off at the end of season one of the show. But thanks to the time everyone spent together waiting for the strike to end the cast had grown attached to each other. They decided to keep both characters on, at least for a while. Once they brought in Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) to be Walt’s lawyer, Steven Gomez took on a more serious role.

Steven smiled as he reminisced about the good old days on the Breaking Bad set. With a laugh he describes the day he got the call from Vince Gillian. He knew it was bad news because Vince never called. He told him that the show was wrapping up and they were tying up all loose ends. He continued on to say that they really like him and Steve Gomez would die like a man. It was the end of the show: people were going to die, Hank was going to die. Steve Gomez got to go out in a real old west style standoff.

When asked if he thinks the show reflects poorly on his hometown, he smiles and laughs again. “No. The show reflects badly on the state of the US. The meth problem extends past the city limits of Albuquerque. It’s a national epidemic that needs attention.” Steven Michael Quezada. He also points out that the show was deeper, more layered, than just the meth issue. He adds that when people ask if the show makes Albuquerque look bad his reply is “Do you watch CSI and then say ‘I’m not going to Vegas.’? Because someone dies there every week.” The answer is of course no. The town is just a backdrop to a fictional show. These stories could take place anywhere in the United States. New Mexico was lucky enough to have great crews and great rebates that allowed it to be that backdrop.

Steven says he has more acting plans now that Breaking Bad has come to an end. He is looking at working on a new project called Duke City. It stars Wes Studi who will play an ex-Albuquerque policeman who gets busted for helping out the gang his father was involved in. Now disgraced, he joins the gang in order to make a living and survive. Steven plays a crooked DEA agent who becomes the leader of a gang. Throughout the show, the characters follow the money from the corner drug dealers through politics, government, and banking to see who really is making the money off the drugs and the war on them. The money is the important part because if you follow the money you may find out things you never thought possible. Steven says himself some people may not like the story but it is one that needs to be told.

Steven Michael Quezada is a man with unstoppable drive. He claims to play golf in his free time, but after talking with him and seeing what he has planned for the future and what he has done in the past I have to ask, “What free time?” Breaking Bad may be over but this man is far from broken. We will be seeing him for years to come on screens big and small and stages near you.

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A Character laid to rest – The Walt White Funeral Pre-Show

RIP Walter

RIP Walter

A breezy October day, the grass is just starting to turn yellow as the temperature begins to drop here in Albuquerque. There are families quietly visiting their loved ones scattered throughout the grounds here at Sunset Memorial. Deep in the back of the cemetery, near a wall hiding the freeway from view of the mourners, there sits a large tombstone surrounded by flowers.  People begin to trickle in slowly heading for the memorial of Walter White, long before the procession arrives. It’s an eclectic crowd that begins to form, many from out of state, most cloaked in formal black attire. A gentleman with a large basket begins to zigzag through the masses. He is offering programs and bracelets for the event to come for a small donation. TV crews and news cameras are set up around the area. The employees walk through the crowd making last minute adjustments and talking with the gatherers. Many think this is a fitting end to a long running drama.

There have also been many complaints lodged with the cemetery about today’s services. Many expressing their grievances that the infamous Walter White is going to be buried along side their loved ones final resting place. Their concerns primarily about traffic and gawkers that many of the sites here in Albuquerque have had to deal with since the phenomenon Breaking Bad hit the airwaves six years ago. Sunset Memorial Park has said if any of those problems arise, they would remove the headstone being laid for Walter White. They believe the cause they are supporting today, Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless, is important and will continue with the funeral.

More people begin to arrive at Sunset Memorial as the clock strikes 4:00. The procession of vehicles will be leaving from Los Ranchos with a Sheriff’s Department escort through the city. In the procession will be the beloved Winnebago in which Walter White learned to cook meth in the middle of the desert. For a donation to the cause, Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless, you can ride in along. A live YouTube feed had been set up so people all over the world could watch the proceedings and donate along with the almost 300 people in attendance. The hope is to raise 100,000 dollars for the cause at hand. Vernon’s Steakhouse will be holding the reception after the service with proceeds also being donated.

Waiting for the procession to arrive, a single irate woman stomps through the crowd towards her two teenage sons, demanding that they leave immediately. She claims that people here in New Mexico were not taught proper manners and she cannot stand here and watch people walking over graves and on headstones, it’s disrespectful. When the boys refused to leave with her she repeated her complaints loudly and headed towards the car. Everyone else in the crowd is oblivious to her scene, most deeply involved in discussion about the show.

The crowd falls into silence as the procession enters the grounds. Gentlemen remove their hats and some bow their heads, but as the procession makes its last turn the crowd erupts in applause. People race towards the road to get pictures of the Winnebago and the hearse as they pull up to the gravesite. Set back from the fanfare, there are more cars pulling off to the sides of the road.  People wave and smile at each other, giving hugs and taking pictures with the memorial headstone. Today we celebrate the death of an icon in hopes of providing healthcare for less fortunate individuals. Please visit here If you would like to donate.

See more now at NM Entertainment Magazine

© 2013 by Winter Elise.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Winter Elise.

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Filed under Albuquerque, Funeral, Life, Uncategorized, Walter White