Indie filmmaker Israel Marquez’s first foray into film was a short, silent flick. Now, the 45-year-old Grand Prairie resident has a feature-length film documenting part of the Texas music scene.
Paz, Amor y Música The Alex Ruiz Story runs 90 minutes and was shot completely on a cellphone, Marquez says. It’s screened at various festivals including Arlington’s Frame4Frame Festival of Film, Music and Art.
In the movie, Ruiz, an Austin-based singer/songwriter, shares how he went from digging ditches to singing lead vocals for Chingon, a badass band belonging to Hollywood filmmaker Robert Rodriguez. According to the press release, Ruiz has also performed with Del Castillo, Los Lonely Boys, Willie Nelson, Los Lobos, Carlos Santana and others.
“I just started following those guys around and recording,” Marquez says. “And it snowballed into a documentary.”
Marquez was already a fan of Rodriguez, having watched his YouTube videos on independent film making. Then, after hearing Ruiz’s success story, he says he felt compelled to make the movie but wanted to keep the footage raw so viewers could look past the bells and whistles and “just see the story.”
“You’ve got to believe in what you’re doing,” he says. “[Ruiz] decided just to go for it.”
And so did Marquez, who started shooting the documentary three years ago. He says he sees Ruiz as having the type of risk-it-all talent that “heals the world.”
Sitting near the bar at Beto’s restaurant, Marquez recalled how one woman cried after watching the film. But it’s not a sad story. While the clarity and beauty of the Latin rock music shines through onscreen, it was the brotherhood of the musicians that had brought her to tears.
Marquez is no stranger to the entertainment industry, he says, having break-danced professionally as a child before becoming a BMX freestyler and a boxer. He’s also a self-taught guitarist.
“Who knows what I’ll do after this,” says the full-time aviation mechanic who was working as an extra on the set of Walker, Texas Ranger when a cameraman allowed him to shoot a scene.
Marquez says he ran home that day and immediately began researching cameras and lighting. He also started watching Rodriguez’s 10-minute filmmaking videos. Now, he says his people sometimes call him for technical advice.
While he works a lot, Marquez says near the holidays he’ll play guitar for children who are hospitalized with terminal illnesses. When he learned that some children struggle to make it through the night without their parents, it inspired him to make a feature narrative Feels Like Rain, which he hopes to have completed by February.
In the film, Marquez creates a scenario where instead of abandoning their child, both parents want to give their life for their child, who desperately needs a kidney transplant.
“The problem with that is the mother came down with that same disease years ago,” he says. “So the father sacrificed for the wife. Now they both only have one. They both want to do it.
“It’s about sacrifice,” Marquez continued, adding that he plans to shoot Feels Like Rain in Waxahachie.