Las Cruces movie boom means set building, costumes and networking for young actors

By Mike Cook

By Mike Cook

Las Cruces Newsletter

Nick Check and Jessica N. Jimenez celebrated their fourth anniversary as a couple in November doing what they love most: working more than 12 hours a day on a movie set.

In fact, the two young Las Cruces actors — he’s also a dresser and set builder, and she’s a set costumer — worked about 80 very full days each in 2021 on major movies and local films that were shot in Las Cruces. , Mesilla and surroundings.

Check also landed a professional acting gig in “Dig” last spring, earning him his SAG (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists union) card.

“The stars have aligned,” Check said of his starring role in the film, in which he plays the boyfriend of Harlow Jane, who starred in the film with her father, Thomas Jane.

In addition to his acting role, Check is listed as a set designer for “Dig.”

Check also spent a week on the crew of Bruce Willis’ “The Knight” film.
Check helped build all of the bank used in the film, he said, with NMSU Creative Media Institute graduate Ryan Robson and AJ Tuminarro, also of Las Cruces, serving as the main man/key builder.

Check and Jimenez each worked for several weeks on “The Locksmith“. They wished each other “happy birthday” on set on the first day of filming (November 15) in Las Cruces, then said to each other, “OK, I have to go,” Jimenez recalled.

Jimenez costumed Ryan Philippe, Kate Bosworth and Ving Rhames for “The Locksmith,” where she also linked up with actor Noel “Hector” Gugliemi.

“He was so nice,” Jimenez said of Gugliemi, who didn’t want any special treatment from him or anyone else on set. Of Italian and Mexican descent, Gugliemi grew up in the Santa Monica, California neighborhood where he was abandoned as a child and homeless for a time before becoming a successful actor, writer, producer and motivational speaker.

“He remembers where he came from,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez said Gugliemi gave him “hope for the future” for his own career as a professional actor with Hispanic roots.

“I know I fit in somewhere,” she said.

Jimenez said she also bonded with actor Bourke Floyd during “The Locksmith.”

She was also an on-set costume designer for “Hot Seat,” which brought Mel Gibson to Las Cruces.

Jimenez and Check both worked locally with crew members who had been on the set of “Rust” in Santa Fe last October when a cinematographer was accidentally shot and killed because a gun shot by actor Alec Baldwin was mistakenly loaded with live ammunition.

As a result of that incident, Jimenez said, there were no real guns on the set of “The Locksmith.” Authentic-looking rubber and airsoft guns without any type of ammunition were used instead.

Jimenez’s costume for Bosworth in “The Locksmith” included $300 jeans and a Gucci sweater shipped from Saks Fifth Avenue in Los Angeles, she said. But she and Check have worked on local films with budgets of $100 or less, where props and sets are acquired by “borrowing something from Uncle Bob’s best friend’s son,” Check said.

For Las Cruces filmmaker Brandon Tyler’s 2021 “Arkansas,” Etc. short, Check’s character needed a motorcycle, which Check was able to borrow from a friend of his father’s. For that same movie, Jimenez bought costumes from Savers. She also drove a front loader in the film and served as an intimacy coach for Check and her co-star Imani Caldwell.

Check and Jimenez are both graduates of New Mexico State University’s theater department, where they learned acting skills as well as directing and costume design.

Jimenez has always enjoyed sewing, she said, and credits Juneice Robinson for starting their collaboration by designing and creating a wide range of costumes at the NMSU Costume Shop. Jimenez also worked with Las Cruces director, producer and screenwriter Robert Dean and introduced him to Check, who helped Check work on “Dig” and as an actor and set builder on other films.

“She started my whole career,” said Check, who also expressed his gratitude to David Herford and Jim Billings of NMSU’s theater department for helping develop his set-building skills.

Both actors hope to find agents in 2022, but their initial plans to move to Albuquerque or Los Angeles, where most film roles are played, could be put on hold if film production continues to boom in Las Cruces.

While Check and Jimenez hope to continue building sets and making costumes, the first thing the two do for any movie they take part in is audition.

“We both want to act,” Jimenez said. “We crave it.”

Comments are closed.