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Lights, camera, ‘acción’

By Judith Pannebaker

Bandera provides backdrop
for movie.

Recently, equipment and accouterment better suited to a sound stage have been shuffled around the Cowboy Capital of the World. The municipality’s diverse backdrops fit perfectly with the needs of a San Antonio film company.

On Wednesday, Sept. 10, a crew from Eagle Eye Productions appropriated the department of Bandera Police Chief Jim Eigner. For a few hours, he relinquished his office - and two reserve deputies - for a pivotal scene in “Secuestrada” - or “Kidnapped.”
“We assisted the film crew when necessary,” Eigner explained, adding, “It was good public relations.”

Screenwriter Tatiana Smithhart based her script on a true story that occurred in Venezuela 15 years ago. A serial killer had kidnapped then brutally murdered eight young women. A ninth student, who survived, became the subject of Smithhart’s movie.
“It was a miracle she survived being kidnapped,” Smithhart said in an interview. “After speaking with her, I knew I had to write a script about it.” Although taken from a true account, Smithhart changed the film’s locale from South America to the Hill Country.

A native of Venezuela, Smithhart now lives in San Antonio with her husband who retired from the United States Air Force a year ago.

After graduating as valedictorian of her class at Lincoln High School in Barranquilla, Colombia, Smithhart moved to Mons, Belgium, to study French. She met her husband while living in Europe.

After relocating to San Antonio, Smithhart was employed by Telemundo Channel 60, and later with Azteca America, Channel 31. She has hosted numerous video promotional documentaries, commercial promos and spots, as well as serving as a spokesperson for several non-profit organizations.
Smithhart also serves as vice president of Eagle Eye Productions.
Not surprisingly, BPD Reserve Officers Chris Flores and Oscar Valdez portrayed the law enforcement officers who took an initial report about the missing young woman from her distraught grandmother.

“Of course, they didn’t believe her,” Smithhart said. “They told the grandmother that her granddaughter had just run away and would return soon.”

Flores and Valdez work as part of the security force for Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Eigner said.

Other locales used during the two-week filming included areas on Bottleneck Road and Cypress Street, Bandera High School, a local watering hole and antiques malls.

According to media coordinator Ana Maria Pivaral, the premier of “Secuestrada” will take place in San Antonio in December with an actual date to be released later. Filmed in Spanish, the movie will be shown with subtitles.

According to Smithhart, a portion of proceeds from the production will be earmarked for New Light Transformation Mujeres (NLCM). “The nonprofit organization assists women in San Antonio and the surrounding area who are suffering psychological trauma,” she said.