WATSONVILLE — With more things becoming automated on a seemingly daily basis, from ordering fast food to self-driving cars, what will be the long-term effects on society?
"Service With a Smile," currently being filmed by Digital NEST's Digital Arts and Technology Department, tackles that question, while touching on themes such as immigration and displacement.
The short film follows Rita, an undocumented college student and waitress who becomes obsolete when the government starts providing service robots to lower the amount of undocumented immigrants in the United States.
Producer Gabriel Medina said the cast and crew of nearly 40 consists of young talent from Watsonville, from screenwriters, actors, musicians and more.
A number of local businesses and organizations are featured in the film, including Carmona's BBQ Deli, Yesy's Restaurant, Cabrillo College and more.
"Our goal is to stay true to the area," Medina said. "Our goal is not only to compete with Santa Cruz and their resources, but to really highlight the different organizations and businesses here in Watsonville."
It is directed by Watsonville native Andres Mercado, and the lead actress, Esmeralda Rita, is also a Watsonville native who will be attending San Jose State University in the fall to study psychology and acting.
Medina said work on the film started last fall, when students in Digital NEST's screenwriting lab wrote film scripts that were then curated by a committee of local filmmakers.
The plan is to premiere the film at the Watsonville Film Festival in the spring, and then submit it to various other film festivals that emphasis Latino filmmakers.
"Our hope is to get people to really think about what the future of Watsonville is," Medina said. "Are we really going to absorb the tech industry from San Jose, and what are the repercussions of that?"
The filmmakers are currently in the midst of a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo. As of Tuesday, the campaign is about 70 percent of its $6,500 goal, which ends on Aug. 7.
Medina praised Digital NEST for giving students a place to hone their creative talents.
"The fact that we have this type of space where students can show off their creativity, we are really going to change the way people see Watsonville," he said.
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