After the murder of his cousin by an unknown assailant, Eddie faces pressure from family and peers to seek revenge, but all he wants is to find a way out.
| Buried Onions still frames
Buried Onions is the result of a creative process that started in 2000 when my mom gifted me a copy of the book. I related to its main character, Eddie, and its minimalist portrayal of street life in the city of Fresno–where I lived.
After finishing the book, I though it would make a good movie, but at the time I wasn't equipped to think any farther than that. I was 19 with a nebulous vision of what the future held in store. Like Eddie, I knew I wanted to leave Fresno, but roads out seemed few. So I focused on immediate goals and let Buried Onions recede into the back of my mind over the years.
| Buried Onions BTS photos
In 2015, I rediscovered the book. I'm not sure how it came about–maybe I ran across it going through old boxes. But when I saw it, I remembered thinking about my initial idea of turning it into a movie. By this point I'd attended film school at both the undergrad and graduate level, and was searching for a new project to start.
I reached out to the book's author, Gary Soto, through a mutual friend. We both came of age in Fresno, and because of this, I thought he might give me the time of day.
Gary was receptive to the idea and gave me his blessing to write a screenplay based on the book. The source material was already great, and lean, so the process to adapt it was fun. 
I adapted most of the story and structure into a script that seemed workable, but after creating a budget, I was discouraged. It would cost a lot more than I wanted to raise. So I shelved it.
| Buried Onions set portraits by Deb Leal
Fast forward to 2020. The pandemic raged. I, like many others, turned inward and asked myself what I really wanted to be doing with my life. Buried Onions once again surfaced as a possibility. This time I took a different approach.
I revised the script heavily and cut things down to the bare essentials to write something I could actually create with the means at hand. Story lines and characters were cut completely and the narrative became hyper-focused on the main character and his key struggle. I also ditched the idea of making it a period-piece–for the cost savings of course, but also because the themes in the story apply universally.
In the end, I had a script that seemed shoot-able, but I'd changed things so much that I didn't know how Gary Soto would feel about it. Would he even still allow me to do this? Gary very graciously decided to give us his full blessing on the project, but came on as an executive producer.
Marjorie Conrad, joined as producer and spearheaded the casting process. We built the foundation of production over the course of about a year, and when we were close to the date of shooting, we had a solid plan. The big potential problem we could foresee  was Covid, but that was out of our control, so we dove in and hoped for the best.
| Buried Onions set photos by Deb Leal
Long story short, filming went off without a hitch. With so many moving parts, I'm still amazed by this. We flew the entire cast and crew from all over the world to Fresno for one month. Our actors came from all across the country, some crew members flew in from Japan and Singapore to work on the film, and our production crew made the long drive down from Seattle. And nobody got Covid. The universe really did want this movie to be made.
With the finishing touches now in place, it's my great pleasure to present the fruits of the labor of so many dedicated and wonderful people. I sincerely hope that Buried Onions resonates not only with people from Fresno, but people all over the world.
If you decide to give it a watch, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Buried Onions is currently in post-production and is scheduled to release in 2024.
Marco Martinez – "Eddie"
Hugo de Sousa – "Angel"
Giovanna Olcese – "Dolores"
La'Dontay Billingsly – "Joey"
Marcos Sanchez Gomez – "Lupe"
Camilo Alvarez Tovar – "Chuy"
Paul Zadawaski – "Mark"
Magdalena Luna Dominguez – "Norma"
De'Vante "Té" Speight – "Alvin"
Key Crew
Mackenzie Mathis – Director, Screenwriter, Executive Producer
Gary Soto – Executive Producer
Marjorie Conrad – Produer, Casting Director
Mike Simmons – Assistant Director
Hannah Amdahl – Line Producer
Aiko Terui – Editor
Marcia Ong – Cinematographer
Dan Juenemann – Chief Lighting Designer, Gaffer
Nao Nakazawa – Location Sound, Contributing Sound Designer
Beatriz Najera Perez – Make-up and Special Effects
Deb Leal – Camera Assistant
Piece Whang – Camera Assistant
Miya Saito – Chef
Alvin Areizaga – Key Grip
George "GQ" Gonzalez – Best Electric
Josh Lehman – Associate Producer
Eliot Lipp – Original Score
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