BARSTOW • A short film about a small-town woman who joins the Army will include scenes from Barstow and give locals cast in the movie a few moments of fame.

The 15-minute film, titled "Rachel," is about Rachel Deem, a woman in her early twenties who decides to enlist in the Army and journeys to the big city to interview with a recruiter but encounters obstacles along the way, according  to Leonardo Guerra Seragnoli, the film's director and writer.

"Rachel" is the final part of a short film trilogy called "W.A.R," and will feature actress Jena Malone,  who starred as the love interest in the 2001 film "Donnie Darko," said Seragnoli. The first two parts, titled "Will" and "Alfred" also portray experiences of war from the perspectives of teenagers and children, with the first letter of each name spelling out "war."

Seragnoli, who moved to the United States from Italy six years ago, hoped the films would offer a foreigner's perspective on war — particularly the current war in Iraq.

"I felt a certain sense of hidden rage [after moving here]," said Seragnoli. "I started thinking about how I could summarize...how we can relate to war when we are in a country that's far away from it but is actually engaged in war.

He noted that his intended audience is an average person trying to make sense of the concept of war.

"Alfred" has already been completed, and it was shown at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival in France. "Will" will be filmed in Los Angeles immediately following the shoot in Barstow, said Seragnoli.

The crew will begin shooting in Barstow on May 2 for scenes that takes place on East Main Street, said Seragnoli.

Seragnoli and Assistant Director Carlo Lavagna interviewed six locals in an open casting call last week.

Emily Canderelli said she decided to attended the open casting call last week despite not having any prior movie acting experience.
Others, like Cesar Vasquez, already had professional acting experience under their belt.

Vasquez, a former dancer who was cast as a middle-aged Hispanic father, said he has been in commercials for Diet Dr. Pepper and played minor parts in movies and musicals while living in Los Angeles a decade ago.

"I like to act, to pretend I'm another person and demonstrate my skills," said Vasquez.

Vasquez and Canderelli, who are co-workers at Exit Strategy Realty, were selected to play a middle-aged Hispanic couple.

"We already have a rapport," Canderelli said.

Though they will be playing minor non-speaking role, Canderelli said her family and friends were thrilled when she told them about being cast in a role and receiving a film credit.

"They were pretty excited," she said.

Seragnoli said that the film has not found distribution, but he plans on screening it at film festivals in the near future.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4122 or elee@desertdispatch.com