All photos: Waldemar Kalinowski

David Manzanares on the set of Sweetwater: Noah and Logan Miller.

The first time I met David Manzanares was when I rented my home to the Brothers film crew. He eased me through the process, which was a big deal that cold winter when I was living alone. I had Sam Shepard, Jake Gyllenhall, Toby McGuire and Natalie Portman all in the house.

I’m not sitting in a hotel lobby or a restaurant scribbling notes about the clothes my interview subject is wearing or how he acts in a natural setting because the interview wasn’t planned. It just happened one morning in August, while I was having coffee and watching the wild birds on the back porch, when the phone rang.


“LouLou, its David Manzanares.”

“David! How are you?”

“I’m doing great….yea, very busy.” David’s sleepy slow tone beckoned the beginning of an effortless conversation.

“How’bout you?”

He listened attentively, only interjecting the flip side of my struggles to interweave what course his life had taken.

“I’ve not seen you since the Brothers shooting.” I said.

“What was that? Two years ago?”

“Yea, time is racing, but I love every minute. I wake up and look out the window, and thank God for my good fortune… the happiness.”

“I think of you as one of the most fulfilled men in Santa Fe.”

He chuckled, “That’s what everyone thinks.”

“It’s true isn’t it?” I shot back.

“I’ve been to hell and back.”


“Oh yea. But very few know. It was a year ago.”

“Afterwards, everything became clearer; how to live in both worlds with my family and a film career.”

While I wandered from the kitchen to the back porch, David confided in me. I listened to the private life of a notoriously loved and admired local boy who climbed the tricky trail to Hollywood.  David began a career in music in 1997 at the Santa Fe Bandstand playing his new Latin music on his guitar. In 2006 he hit the Billboard in the Latin Genre and went on to producing music for television and film. His song “Rocky Mountain Man” was in the film Brothers.  David supplemented his music with a job as a location scout, a natural for a boy raised in Abiquiu. He walked the line of family tradition and modernism during his teens.

“What are you doing now?”

“Which day? I go to Abiquiu Tuesday, no Wednesday, then to scout some locations, then the following week I start shooting.”

“David, are you happy?”

“Yes, very very happy.  I mean that I love what I’m doing, and everyday I wake up excited. You’ll get there with your passion for life.”

“David, would you be interested in … maybe a print interview?”

“About what?”

“You silly.”

A few days later I wrote up my questions, and sent them to him. He assured me he would make time, between studying his lines for the highly anticipated Miller Brothers Film, Sweetwater, and scouting a location for a reality show.


Q: “How does it feel being inside the desired creative environment of film and acting?”

A: “It has been, and continues to be an incredible journey.  Sometimes it’s surreal.  I read a script – jump into locations or acting and voila – months later it’s on the big screen.  It’s very rewarding to be a part of a creative, collaborative effort.”

Q:“Has it changed you?”

A:Yes, it has given me the gift of doing something I truly love.  I have always lived a creative life, whether it’s writing or performing music; acting or even reading a script and bringing a creative touch to the locations.  I guess it’s changed me in my appreciation for things and it has opened up new and exciting opportunities.

Q: “What have been the life lessons from your work that you’ve used in your own life?”

A:Ah, the life of living on the hot seat.  I have acquired the ability to go with the flow and be ready to shift in a moment’s notice.   There is no prediction.  It changes in a heartbeat.  It’s taught me humility, patience and most importantly, appreciation.  Both music and production are a constantly changing life force.  I find myself grounded by my family.  They are my anchor.  My ship tends to sail all over the ocean and my family is a safe harbor from where I draw strength and support.

Q:What do you want our readers to know about Santa Fe, that they may not know?

A:Santa Fe is a multi-cultural, very accepting and unique place.  It truly is the City Different on so many levels.  There are people and places that constantly add to the texture of Santa Fe and to my life, personally. It’s great to see your city through the eyes of the world, the very creative world, and that’s a gift in itself.

Q:Who in the film business inspires you?

A:That’s a tough question. From an actor’s standpoint, I would say Alan Rickman.  He truly is a most inspiring actor.  I watched him portray a terrorist in Die Hard to Professor Snape in Harry Potter to the Colonel in Sense & Sensibility.  Talk about range.  He is one of the most outstanding, subtle and profound actors in the industry.

Q: What is it like to be on a team of accomplished creative  people?

A” The past 25 years, I have worked with the most accomplished, directors, producers and actors. I get to work with the best crews, the best people in the best state.  Each project brings a new inspiration, perspective and creativity.  Right now, the project I’m working on is “Sweetwater” with the Miller brothers – Noah & Logan.  Wow – their energy and creativity is awesome.  I am always inspired – musically – creatively by all the departments from the Production Designer to Locations to Hair & Make Up & Wardrobe and everyone else.     It is such a team effort to bring any project to the big screen.  It’s awe-inspiring!

I work in Locations and that alone is one of the most creative departments.  I get a script or storyboard and have to match the scenes with locations in New Mexico.  Talk about challenging.    Sometimes the story line calls for a specific location and I get to interpret it and create it.  I have been with Ghost Ranch as their production manager since 1988.  The light alone can create something amazing.

Some days I feel like the most fortunate woman in the world to live in Santa Fe. Today is one of them. From my porch I can see a bubblegum pink sunset, filtering through the trees, and the leaves are warming up like dancers in a soft breeze. I’m playing the dreamy music of Madeleine Peyroux when I notice my friend Pauline from La Posada Resort across the street.  “Missy, you’re playing one of my favorites.” I wave back and sink further into the bliss of this quirky, dawdling little village of inspiriting locals.

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