As an aspiring filmmaker, Alexander Raye Pimentel started his bucket list early in life. He told himself he wanted to produce a major motion picture by the age of 28.
Now in his 27th year, Pimentel recently completed his second motion picture, and says he will complete a third production in February. In that regard, one could say he has made the transition from an aspiring filmmaker into an accomplished one.
At the age of 9, Pimentel and his parents followed his grandparents and moved to Tehachapi from Los Angeles. He hails from Cummings Valley Elementary School, Jacobsen Middle School and Tehachapi High School. Upon graduation, he joined the United States Army through the Kern County recruiting station.
Soon after moving to Tehachapi, Pimentel said, he decided he wanted a career in the film industry. After joining the Army, he began his journey of turning his dream into a reality.
"While I was in the Army, I made an adaptation of Jack London's short story, 'To Build a Fire,' and won two international film festivals for Best Dramatic Short in 2011," said Pimentel. "When I was honorably discharged from the Army, I went to the New York Film Academy at the Los Angeles, Hollywood location, where I made the majority of my short films."
"I Call First"
After transferring to the Art Institute of Colorado in Denver, Pimentel made his first feature film, "I Call First," (70 minutes) which he modeled after Martin Scorsese's feature film directorial debut of "Who's That Knocking at My Door" (1967), starring Harvey Keitel, Zina Bethune, Catherine Scorsese and Harry Northrup.
Said Pimentel, "I wanted to make my first feature film, and I was thinking about what I could do. I was thinking a lot about minimalist cinema, and what inspired me to be a filmmaker."
After watching Scorsese's first film, Pimentel said, he realized he could take that same premise and remake it in a modern way for a modern day. After rewriting the script, Pimentel filmed and directed "I Call First," which had a cast of 17, including extras. It took him five months to shoot his debut film.
"I Call First" is about a young man who struggles with life's seesaw of partying with friends and settling down and maintaining a serious relationship with his girlfriend.
"At the very end, it all comes to a clash, and he reflects on life and where he is going."
"I Call First" received four official selections to international film festivals.
Pimentel says he drew a lot from his own upbringing in Tehachapi and integrated them into the placement of his first film.
"When you are a young man, you have a lot of different influences in your life at the time, coming out of high school. Obviously, I made the decision to go into the Army, but you have relationships and your friends, and you are trying to figure out who you want to be and where you want to go."
"I Call First" went on to receive four official selections to international film festivals.
Pimentel's second feature film is an adaptation of Stanley Kubrick's first feature film, and also one of his least-seen productions, "Fear and Desire" (1954). The title of his film is "Down River" (2016), and its initial release was held as a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization 22Kill, which brings awareness to veteran suicide.
Said Pimentel, "Me and my buddies that I met at the Art Institute were watching it on YouTube, and I said, 'Hey, we could remake this, and modernize it.' I rewrote it, and changed a lot of things in it, but the overall premise is pretty much the same."
Featuring a cast of seven, "Down River" is about four soldiers who get trapped behind enemy lines, and their plan is to use the river to get back to their comrades.
Pimentel said he put a lot of his own military experience into the rewriting of "Down River," as well as the personal experiences of his actors who are also ex-military men, to enhance their roles.
"We all brought our experiences, and mixed it into the film to show it in a way we felt was more realistic to us," he said.
Pimentel is now working on his third feature film, "The Directive," which stems from the video game "The Division," based on the Tom Clancy novel of the same name.
Although "The Directive" differs from the game, Pimentel says the game has influenced the basic flow of his third feature film. It's not the same as the game, but there are a lot of the things that are influences from the game.
"Everyone perishes from a virus that is spread across America, post apocalyptic," he said. "We have a character who is living in an abandoned town in 'The Directive,' and this guy is stuck in this town by himself. Eventually he comes across a broken robot, and that robot convinces him that it can help him navigate into a safe zone where potentially his family and friends will be."
Pimentel said he filmed the first half of "The Directive" in two days in Cisco, Utah, in an infamous abandoned town where "Thelma & Louise" and "Vanishing Point" were filmed.
"Now we are going to shoot the second half of the movie where the main character and the robot are traveling to the safe zone," he said, adding that the film should be released in February.
Pimentel said he primarily finances the bulk of his own productions; however, "everyone kinda pitches in."
He is currently working on a fourth film, which will include actor David Fichtenmayer, who was featured in Pimentel's short film, "The Incredible Thug" (2010). The film was a success at the New York International Film Festival, placing Pimentel in the top 20 in his category, and earning Fichtenmayer 25th in the Best Actor category.
"We are going to come together to make this new film and reunite," said Pimentel.
Where does Pimentel see himself in five years?
"I have a bigger dream of owning my own, small distribution platform online, similar to a small Netflix, and stream my movies from there," he said.
Not an easy career choice
Said Pimentel, "Filmmaking is a really hard thing to do, and the hardest part is that people are so quick to critique what you are doing, and judge you or think that your shot is lame or that you are giving bad direction, and it so easily could be. But what you have to do is you have to learn, and you have to evolve."
To be a successful director, Pimentel said, you have to rely on your intuition.
"Just not listen to anything negative that anyone else has to say. I have had a lot of negative things said about all of my short films, and I probably will have a lot of negative things said about 'I Call First,' but ultimately, I gave it my all, and it is difficult.
"You are working with other people, you have other minds and other ideas, and the whole job is trying to bring it all together to one singular goal, and I think that when that one goal is known, everyone can really rally behind it or it falls apart. Thankfully, for me, everyone rallied behind it."
Pimentel said he is proud of the work he has done.
"I needed this. I needed this film. It taught me so much as a director. I'm proud to know that I made a modern version of 'Who's That Knocking at My Door' at 25 years old. Me and Scorsese both made this film in the winter of our 25th year, and that's really cool to know that his directing, and his influence, has impacted my life so much, and it's a great feeling.
"I think from here, it's just continuing to evolve, and continuing to try to become the director I want to be and tell good stories and make films that matter."
Pimentel and his wife, Sade, have one son, Charles, 2.
Where to watch
Pimentel's movies are available on Amazon Fire TV on the channel Movies Plus. In addition, "I Call First" is available online at Imdb.com. "Down River" will also be available sometime this year on Imdb.com as well.
For more information, visit Pimentel's Future of Film Productions website at http://alexrpimentel.com/.