During a recent interview with the New York Times, filmmaker and playwright Luis Valdez (La Bamba, Zoot Suit), who is considered the Father of Chicano Film and Theater, discussed the idea he had to make a sequel to his 1987 Ritchie Valens biopic La Bamba and focus the story on Ritchie’s older half-brother, Roberto “Bob” Morales (Esai Morales).
The problem was that Valdez couldn’t get any Hollywood producers on board to support the project.
“It seemed to me that there was an extension of the story,” Valdez told the Times. “I had followed Bob for the movie, God bless him, he died a couple of years ago. He was 81 with a Mohawk and an earring. He was just a sensational person to know, and to enjoy…as a friend. There was a story there that had to do with the extension of the history of rock ‘n’ roll, how we went from the ’50s into the ’60s. The vehicle to get there was really Bob’s through line. So, I pitched this idea to a number of producers, and I couldn’t get a hook.”
Valdez thinks the interest wasn’t there because there aren’t enough producers who “understand the minority experience in America” and couldn’t connect to the narrative.
“They always go to the same things–the violence, the drugs and the sensationalism, thinking that that’s what’s going to sell,” Valdez said. “More often than not, it’s the quiet human story that finally connects with people, which I think is the secret to La Bamba.”
During that time, Valdez was also busy teaching college and founding the Institute for Teledramatic Arts and Technology, so he decided not to make movies that didn’t interest him.
“There was a great deal of difficulty in trying to get new projects that I wanted to do,” he says. “They offered me things I didn’t want to do and so I decided not to because I had other options.”