Written and directed by Billy Luther, Netflix’s ‘Frybread Face and Me’ is a coming-of-age drama movie that stars Keir Tallman as Benny, an 11-year-old boy from San Diego who visits his grandmother’s ranch for the summer. There, he gets acquainted with and befriends his cousin named Dawn AKA Frybread Face, portrayed by Charley Hogan. Over time, they form a deep connection, helping each other learn more about their family’s buried past and themselves.
Benny and Face spend their summer playing with dolls, going through their uncle’s stuff, watching ‘Starman’ on repeat, and mostly, completing chores on the family’s ranch. Soon, it’s time for them to part ways when the summer comes to a close and it’s time for Benny to head back to the city. Since most of the drama unfolds in the Arizona ranch where the cousins bond with one another, it raises questions about the actual shooting sites in the minds of the viewers.
Frybread Face and Me Filming Locations
Though ‘Frybread Face and Me’ is set in Arizona, it was filmed entirely in New Mexico, especially in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Española. The production of the drama film seemingly began in June 2021 and wrapped up in August of the same year, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement, producer Chad Burris shared the reasons the Land of Enchantment in the Southern part of the country was chosen as a filming location. He said, “We are so happy to be shooting in New Mexico again. Nowhere else allows for access to such a variety of locations, local talent, and skilled, experienced film artisans. We could not have made this film anywhere but New Mexico.” Now, let’s traverse through the specific locations and learn more about the filming process.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The filming of ‘Frybread Face and Me’ primarily took place in Albuquerque, a vibrant city in Bernalillo County in the west-central part of New Mexico. Also referred to as ABQ and Burque, the city is a hotspot for movie and TV production across the world for a variety of reasons. It boasts a dry and sunny climate that complements the setting of a variety of projects, is home to diverse locations that are favorable for shooting, has an abundant supply of skilled technicians and efficient actors, offers a lucrative tax credit for film and TV production in the region, and has easy accessibility to Los Angeles AKA the City of Angels.
Taking the aforementioned points into consideration, it makes sense why the production team settled upon Duke City to tape a major portion of ‘Frybread Face and Me.’ Over the years, Albuquerque has aided the filming of multiple movies and television shows by serving as the shooting site; some of the popular ones are ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Better Call Saul,’ ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’ ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,’ ‘The Avengers,’ and ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West.’ Serving as a harmonious home to people from multiple ethnic communities, the city has been reported as one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country, thus earning the title of the cultural capital of the Southwest.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
For the purpose of filming, the cast and crew of ‘Frybread Face and Me’ also visited Santa Fe, the capital city of New Mexico. Situated at the bottom of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the city offers breathtaking views of the mountains and is also famous for its rich history, museums, and art galleries as well as its unique Southwestern culinary scene. Apart from the coming-of-age film, Santa Fe has also doubled up as the filming location for ‘No Country for Old Men,’ ‘Lone Survivor,’ ‘Longmire,’ ‘Dark Winds,’ ‘Roswell, New Mexico,’ and many other movies and shows.
Española, New Mexico
A portion of the shooting also took place in Española, a city located in two counties, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe. In a November 2021 interview with Variety, Billy Luther, who made his feature directorial debut with ‘Frybread Face and Me,’ opened up about the filming process and shed light on the challenges they faced while adhering to the strict COVID safety protocols. He said, “I wished during our rehearsals we had more time in person – because of Covid, we had to do a lot on Zoom. Actors need eye contact and physical interaction. But when we did get to film those scenes, the lack of being around people for almost two years really had an impact on performance, and it was a good thing. We’re human and we need contact and intimacy.”
The Native American filmmaker added, “We built our set from scratch. Everyone on the Native cast and crew felt that it was home. It felt lived in, and alive. That was the kind of on-set experience I wanted to create. Many of us weren’t able to see our relatives or grandparents during the pandemic. And this was our first time out in the world – since the pandemic – working together to tell a story about family and identity. A lot of laughs and challenging days, but one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
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