It was a long journey from Kendall to Iceland, Morocco, and Turkey before Miami native Juan Pablo Reyes could get his first producer credit for the movie Headlock. Starring Glee's Dianna Agron and another Miami native, Andy Garcia, the film follows the story of a wife who tries to uncover the truth about what landed her CIA operative husband in a coma. The finished feature is being submitted to film festivals.
As a student at G. Holmes Braddock High School in the early '90s, Reyes always dreamed he would end up working on movies in Hollywood. "Braddock was a great magnet school where they had a TV studio with all of this state-of-the-art gear. I remember taking a cinematography class where the teacher broke down Citizen Kane for us."
After spending a couple of years at Florida International University, where he helped found the FIU Motion Picture and Television Association, he transferred to the University of Central Florida to finish his film degree. After graduation, he moved to Los Angeles, where he has worked in the film and television industry ever since.
Reyes worked as a camera operator for a few reality TV shows, including Basketball Wives, where he gained experience on how to shoot footage quickly and on a limited budget. In 2001, he was a production assistant for director Michael Polish's film Jackpot. The two kept in touch, and when Polish needed a producer for his latest project, he contacted Reyes.
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In Headlock, Polish not only directs the feature but also wrote and stars in it. "It is really two films in one," Reyes explains to New Times over the phone from his home in Southern California. "We shot the wife's story [played by Agron] for 12 days in L.A., where the husband is in a coma and Andy Garcia plays an intense government agent as a character you've never seen him play before. Then we tell the husband's story.
"For this movie, we shot in 12 different countries over the course of four weeks. From working in reality TV, I knew how to condense things," he says. "We were working with a small crew. I was the producer, there was the director of photography, a drone operator, and Michael, who was both the star and director." Reyes' responsibilities included coordination, casting, and even arranging for a big car chase scene. "I'd have to consult with fixers in each country to try to figure out where we could shoot without getting in trouble," he laughs.
As he works on getting the film distribution (he's hopeful it will screen in Miami this summer), Reyes is producing a reality series featuring Shaquille O'Neal's ex-wife, Shaunie O'Neal.