February 19, 2020

Como Caído del Cielo is a Netflix Hit!

By Daric L. Cottingham

USC School of Cinematic Arts alumnus Pepe Bojórquez has been experiencing tremendous success since graduating in 2002 with his Master of Fine Arts in Production. Some of his notable projects include Más sabe el Diablo por Viejo (El Diablo made me do it), Legends, Hidden Moon, and Sea of Dreams. Bojórquez’s latest success is the Netflix musical comedy Como Caído del Ceilo (Fallen from Heaven) which he co-wrote, produced and directed.

Pepe Bojórquez on set of Como Caído del Cielo

Como Caído del Cielo is a comedic and compelling take on our era of cancel culture. Pedro Infante, the late, beloved Mexican movie star and singer of the 1940s and '50s, is the inspiration for the film. Its protagonist, named for the legendary performer, is a serial cheater and known womanizer. Pedro is stuck in limbo and given a second chance to determine if he will go to heaven when his soul is placed in the body of an imitator, Pedro Guadalupe. Omar Chaparro portrays the leading role of Pedro Infante/Pedro Guadalupe.

Como Caído del Cielo opened this past Christmas and, within five days, became the number one Spanish title in Mexico on Netflix. The film also ranked third for any title released in Mexico in 2019, regardless of language. In the United States, Como Caído del Cielo was one of Netflix's Top 10 Most Popular International Releases in 2019.

Como Caído del Cielo was filmed in three cities—Mexico City, Tijuana, and San Diego. The multiple locations plus a tight deadline provided the usual behind the scenes obstacles filmmakers grow used to."Every film presents new challenges, and this one was not an exception," says director Bojórquez. "Netflix wanted to release the film on Christmas, the best day for this type of movie, so we had to work around the clock to make the deadline on time."

With this deadline in mind, Bojórquez says he and his production team had to be strategic with "traveling and logistics to make [Como Caído del Cielo] in the most efficient way."

Among the film’s production team was SCA Production Professor and cinematographer Chris Chomyn. He had Bojórquez as a students in a 507 course in 1999 and they kept in touch. "Pepe immediately struck me as talented, focused, and indefatigable. It was also immediately apparent that he possessed a unique and singular vision," says Chomyn.

Christopher Chomyn on set of Como Caído del Cielo 

This is not their first collaboration. Chomyn has been the cinematographer on several of Bojórquez’s projects beginning with the 2006 film, Sea of Dreams. "Our fate was sealed," says Chris Chomyn, ASC. "After Sea of Dreams, we collaborated on a number of other projects, Hidden Moon, Legends, Mas Sabe el Diablo, Como Caido del Cielo as well as others."

Their collaborations is a great example of students finding their collaborators while at SCA, whether those people turn out to be fellow students or professors. "My students benefit from the experiences I share with them, and I benefit from the opportunity to share those experiences with them. What could be better!? " says Chomyn.

Their films also serve as a reminder that in addition to Hollywood, there are film markets around the world that need compelling content. Bojórquez says that working in Mexico presents the same kinds of challenges than working in US. Overcoming them also requires the same amount of grit. "To make a film is a big commitment, so the passion inside of you to tell that specific story that you are so excited about, it must survive all the challenges that you will encounter to make it,” he says. “You are allowed to get tired after a 20-hour call, but you must wake up the next morning with all the passion to continue. But if you get bored with it, then everything is over.”

Chomyn says he also advises students to keep at it. "Challenges and obstacles are part of life, and any career worth having is a career worth fighting for,” he says, adding that he has practiced the same discipline. “I have been exceptionally fortunate. In addition to the wonderful films I have made with Pepe — I have photographed many other films and commercials all around the world from the arctic circle to the equator and throughout the United States."

Bojórquez says his advice to SCA students is to keep going. "If you really want it, keep going. If you really desire it, keep going. If being a filmmaker makes you happy, then you don't have any other option but to keep going.”

Pepe Bojorquez, USC Cinema's Dean Elizabeth Daley and Christopher Chomyn

Como Caído del Ceilo is streaming now on Netflix.