Growing up in Pharr, Texas, a tiny town way down South and a half hour away from the Mexican border, was like growing up in the Wild West. I would hear stories of bodies being mutilated, head decapitations in abandoned ranches, gold clad fingers being chopped off of women crossing the border, and bullet strewn trucks leaving widows weeping in a bloody aftermath. All due to drug deals gone bad.
I remember my school was put on lock down because devil worshippers burning churches called, threatening to steal children and return us with 666 carved on our foreheads. I never really knew how much these dangerous yet adventurous stories had affected me until I began writing and these stories, buried inside my head, sprinkled into my work, which brings me to "Lost Angeles Ward".
"Lost Angeles Ward" is an original web series created by my partner Richard Montes and myself, produced by Safada Y Sano Productions.
It takes a hard look at life in the sometimes glamorous but always gritty Los Angeles to reveal the stories overlooked when the silver screen goes blank and Hollywood -- the capitol of illusions -- clashes with the endless supply of ever pumping lost souls -- made of young and old, rich and poor -- whose journey into the Ward comes at price. Beyond the Hollywood glitz and glamour lies a graveyard of lost souls and fallen angels.
What does a small town girl know about the big city? Plenty! Attending USC, living and working in the downtown L.A area for quite some time has definitely left an impression very much like the Wild West of my childhood. The world of Lost Angeles Ward is a look at modern day Los Angeles under martial law. In our show, Los Angeles is now referred to as the Ward. The parameters of the Ward extend as far south to the Orange Curtain and as far north to the lush wilderness of the Kern River.
Like the current revitalization of modern downtown Los Angeles that has taken place for the past ten years, the Ward has caught the attention of big money developers. The Ward, ruled by the iron fist of LosT Angeles Ward Agency also known as The L.A.W., is moving quickly to gentrify the Ward at all costs. The L.A.W. once aimed at keeping the Ward as a playground for criminals, encouraged the flourishing of black markets, drug use, criminal activity and the decay of moral standards is now fighting to change the face of the Ward to an elite spot for the rich. The tension amongst the inhabitants is high and hints of war are in the air.
The Ward demographic is made up of "haves" and "have-nots", an eclectic mix of poverty-stricken people including the indigenous People of the Sun whose pilgrimage to the Ward is one of spiritual and cultural significance (like modern day downtown Los Angeles, which has the highest rate of homelessness in the nation and a high immigration population.)
The People of the Sun seek to restore LosT Angeles Ward to its original state of Aztlan- an indigenous oasis and long forgotten homeland- and will not leave the Ward without a fight. (Like the current Chicano Artists who are fighting to keep the cities
Ward transplants, lured by the rich and famous basking in the sun and frolicking on screen, clash with the elite and threaten to overthrow the Hollywood throne. The elite continue to disregard the poor yet the uprising is imminent as civilians feel the pressures of gentrification. Hollywood, now run by The L.A.W. and used for propaganda films, is but a factory filled with elitist wax dummies and puppets that talk and walk.
The show opens up as The L.A.W. struggles to keep the revitalization efforts moving forward but an unlikely problem in the form of Layla Alverez arises. Layla Alverez, a descendent of the People of the Sun born and raised in the Ward, leads an uprising against The L.A.W.'s harsh tactics making her Ward Enemy No. 1. "Operation Silence" is instated by The L.A.W whose goal is to silence Layla Alverez.
A master of disguise, Layla has been able to keep The L.A.W. at bay by operating underground and using several aliases in a place where civilians are monitored with high tech equipment, every move tracked and individual rights have all but diminished. The more The L.A.W. tries to instill "Operation Silence" the more Layla fights to give a voice to the people of the Ward. She appoints herself the designated truthsayer and releases videos documenting the The L.A.W.'s crimes against humanity. If the videos and stories leak outside the Ward walls, The L.A.W. will have a series of press nightmares to clean up and could lose millions in investor funds.
Episode one of LosT Angeles Ward is titled, "The Voiceless" and opens up with Layla Alvarez aiming to expose the hypocrisy of the Ward. She reveals a disturbing video that documents the horrors homeless people live under and the extent that The L.A.W. has gone to instill Operation Silence. This episode leaves one person mutilated and little to the viewers' imagination.
In episode two, "Someone's Gotta Pay" viewers are taken behind the scenes of The L.A.W. offices, as Ward Officials deal with the disaster of Episode One's Operation Silence. Officials are called in to sweep up the PR nightmare, leaving the Chief of Police faced with critical decisions and a janitor with a bloody mop.
In episode three titled: "Cockfight", a mysterious Redhead meets wealthy and powerful Carla Carlson in an abandoned warehouse. The tension between the two women heightens as they out do each other in a game of deception while the lives of little girls hang by a thread.
Here's what some viewers of the first episodes have to say about Lost Angeles Ward:
"Lost Angeles Ward brings relevant social issues to the forefront‘«™the director of photography and acting were great‘«™this show is interesting, necessary and important‘«™people want to turn there back but you can't‘«™it was horrible to watch but you have to see it‘«™very very important."--- Ellen Gerstein Actor, Writer, Director
"Lost Angeles Ward the new webseries by Safada Y Sano Productions is a fascinating look into the unglamorous underbelly of the City of Angeles. This issue driven webseries is a major undertaking for a small production company, but they are up for the challenge and deliver a production that could easily be on network TV."---Bel Hernandez Castillo, CEO and Publisher of Latin Heat Magazine
"Lost Angeles Ward exposes the gritty side of L.A.'s glamorous facade. It is a brave and creative expulsion of the plight of our homeless... with a new and dangerous twist. I'm hooked after watching the first webisode... an entertaining diversion packed with a punch of what probably is more real than fiction." ---Elia Esparza, Editor of Latin Heat Online, Blogger of Latinowood
"Lost Angeles Ward is cinematically enthralling and Mysterious with rich colorful characters! Tense, defiant. The Direction is spot on! Takes the viewer exactly where they need to be." ---Richard Yniquez, Actor (Boulevard Nights)
"A scarily creepy glimpse of an unsettling future urban landscape, Lost Angeles Ward took me right out my comfort zone. I couldn't look away!"--- Abelardo de la Pe??a Jr., el editor de LatinoLA.com
Join us at the 2012 Reel Rasquache Art and Film Festival on May 20th during the Webisode block from 12:30 - 2pm at CASA 0101 2102 E. Street in Boyle Heights.
Stay after to hear from the director Richard Montes, who will be attendance at the Directors Roundtable at 2:30 pm. For tickets visit www.Reelrasquache.org