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Mendoza’s “Lucky Night” short film takes to Brunswick streets

April 12, 2024

Alex Spear
UP ALL NIGHT TO GET LUCKY: Eduardo Mendoza '24 (second from right) and members of the production crew on the set of "Lucky Night." The short film is currently in post production and will screen in Mills Hall on May 7.

Editor’s Note April 12, 2024 at 2:49 p.m.: An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed the value of the missing lottery ticket as $250 million. The corrected value is $215 million.

Pacing the streets of Brunswick over the course of a single night, a college kid searches for his missing lottery ticket—a single piece of paper worth $215 million. If he finds it, his life changes forever, but what he would do with it he is not sure. A meditation on choice, responsibility and life as a first-generation American and student, “Lucky Night,” a short film written and directed by Eduardo Mendoza ’24, finished filming last week.

The film stars Andy Lopez ’24 as Rey, a first-generation college student searching for the lottery ticket, and Maya Tokioka ’27 as Natalie, Rey’s girlfriend. The film features familiar Brunswick locales like Warmings Market, Simpsons Point and Taverna Khione. Mendoza said he wanted the film to feel quintessentially New England and grounded in familiar places as he prepares to leave Maine after graduation.

Mendoza was inspired to write the screenplay for “Lucky Night” by his mom, who would periodically buy lottery tickets when he was growing up. He would ask her if she thought she would win or what she would do with the money if she did, and she would never have a response. For Mendoza, a first-generation Mexican American, the idea of winning the lottery represents and heightens the responsibilities first-generation Americans face.

“[Rey] does think about spending the money in a lot of different ways, but he has a lot of responsibility on him, like, ‘My parents have really struggled. My family has worked a lot and this might be it for us. I want to put myself forward. I want to be able to advance myself forward, advance the people I love forward…. This is not just for me, this is for everyone’” Mendoza said.

Since he invited Lopez to portray Rey before the script was finished, Mendoza was able to tailor the script to fit Lopez and his identity. Lopez, who grew up in the Philippines before moving to California, said he was able to relate to and represent Rey on a deeper level as a result.

“This is Eduardo’s project, and he wrote it and he’s directing it but there’s also such a humility that he approached this project with, and he really wanted us to take ownership of the characters and the stories,” Lopez said.

Mendoza assembled his crew through a combination of friends he met in Prague last year while studying abroad at a film program as well as students from Bowdoin who are interested in filmmaking. He cast Tokioka through a more traditional process he conducted on campus for the role of Natalie.

Alex Spear
QUIET ON SET: Miguel Pavon '25 lines up a shot featuring Maya Tokioka '27 as Natalie. Filming took place at various locations across Brunswick.

On set, Mendoza made it clear that he views each individual on the crew as collaborators and friends rather than in a hierarchical or professional relationship.

“I was very purposeful in asking the people who are working on this to work on it, because I just want to hang out. That’s the real truth,” Mendoza said. “When you do get in those moments of serious self doubt … I can sort of think and be like ‘God, but this person believes in me and I believe in them so much.… Something must be going right.’”

Despite late nights on set, cold and rainy weather and even having Brunswick Police called on them when filming outside, crew members said that their excitement and passion for the project made it well worth their while.

“I feel like at Bowdoin, we get in the headspace [that] grades are the most important thing and doing work within the classroom,” Juliana Covey ’24, a production assistant on the film, said. “There’s also so many cool opportunities outside of the classroom, and it was really cool to experience that and experience people who also knew that.”

Lopez plans to pursue acting after graduating from Bowdoin and said that his experience on the set of “Lucky Night” affirmed his love for performance.

“There’s just a beauty in the process of creating something with people who love to create,” Lopez said. “[Lucky Night] was such a great balance of taking the work seriously, but not taking ourselves seriously.”

Alex Spear
ALL SMILES: Mendoza and Pavon hold the clapperboard for the last shoot of the movie. Since the film takes place over the course of one night, the shoots were scheduled between sunset and sunrise.

Coming from a background in theater, Mendoza keeps paramount the importance of curating close working relationships where actors feel comfortable on set even in vulnerable moments. He has hosted dinners for the crew and gotten to know them all personally. During one of the shoots, all of which took place between dusk and dawn, crew members were distributing hand warmers and snacks to one another while Mendoza could be found having close conversations with the actors, helping them work through their roles.

“[Mendoza] is the type of collaborator you want to work with … whenever I feel like I can work with a director that has a gift of specificity, that can really help,” Lopez said. “He just has such a knack of being able to get your head straight in terms of what the character is going through.”

Mendoza, who previously worked on film sets mainly as a first assistant director, noted that directing is as much about building relationships with the crew as it is leading the production.

“You’re trying to create an energy on set. You’re trying to make sure that people feel like their work is being valued, work is getting done, that they will be treated right,” Mendoza said. “It’s a very people-centric thing, and I enjoy things like that.”

Filming wrapped up last week and has moved on to post production. Mendoza will screen the film in Mills Hall on May 7, giving his crew the chance to see the product of their work and signal to other students that filmmaking is a possibility at Bowdoin.

“I’m just so happy to be doing this. I’ve really been waiting like the whole semester to get to this point,” Mendoza said. “I’m just reveling in it even though it’s 7 a.m. and we’re at Simpson’s Point and it’s so windy and my hands are cold and everyone’s cold.… This is where I want to be right now. And this is where I want to continue being. I just want to keep being on film sets making movies, like this is it. That’s what I’m here for.”


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