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Las Cruces actor Eric “Knut” Brekke went to Albuquerque last spring to audition for a small part in a short film. He wound up with the lead role and a best-actor award at an international film festival.
Brekke, 35, was recognized at the 2020 Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival in Lafayette, La., for his portrayal of Woodrow Willis in “All Around Cowboy,” which was filmed in Bernalillo, N.M., last March and also features Las Cruces actors Taylor Rodriguez and Nicole Bartlett.
Brekke traveled to Lafayette in January to accept both his own award and the special jury selection award for best narrative short for the 17-minute film that was written and directed by Albuquerque filmmaker Cole Brewer.
Set in northern New Mexico, the film is about a rodeo cowboy (Rodriguez’s character, Bo Wills), who is injured and unable to make money on the pro rodeo circuit to support his family. Bo’s wife, Jessie (Kristina Krell), asks Woodrow to join Bo in the lucrative cattle-rustling business.
One of the highlights of the film is a confrontation between Woodrow and Bo, with, “all the years of tension just exploding in that moment,” Brekke said.
“I honestly had the time of my life on that film set,” he said. “I really wanted to do a good job for everybody involved. I got something (the acting award) that told me I did right by my cast and my crew.”
Brekke saw the audition notice for the film on Facebook and traveled to Albuquerque in early 2019 hoping to land a small part as a cattle rustler, he said. He read for that part and was asked by Brewer to read for the part of Woodrow, which he got.
Brekke got a week off from his day job as an educational assistant at Mayfield High School to shoot the movie, he said. The eight days of filming included an overnight campout with cast and crew in a canyon near Albuquerque.
Brekke said he has no personal experience as a rodeo cowboy, so he spent some time researching what a champion bull rider like Woodrow would have experienced in “the rodeo lifestyle and what it takes to be part of that,” Brekke said. “It’s a hard, hard life.”
Brewer relocated from the state of Washington to Albuquerque to study film at the University of New Mexico in 2016. His film “The Unknown Outlaw,” won best New Mexico film at the 2019 Las Cruces International Film Festival.
The award was Brekke’s first as a film actor, and his role as Woodrow was his first paying film gig. He’s played roles in other small films in Las Cruces and acted in many local plays and musicals.
I love acting,” Brekke said. “I want acting as a steady pursuit.”
Brekke is a graduate of Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale, Az. He has a theater-performance degree from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
Brekke said 1,200 films from around the world were submitted for the 2019 Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival, and only 200 were selected.