In 2014, news of a major drug bust in Pescadero provided an inspirational spark for filmmaker Jeff Hammer.
“The film is based on a story that was covered in the Half Moon Bay Review,” said Hammer. “The story was that 1,000 pounds of pot was found on Pescadero State Beach. The driver drove up on the beach, tides changed, he got stuck on the sand.” Fast forward to present day, Hammer’s project, “Live or Die in La Honda,” is ready for the big screen. The film tells the story of a former Marine named Blake Baker. Baker is settling into civilian life when he receives a phone call from Victoria “Vic” Taylor, a past lover and fellow Marine who served with him. Vic asks Blake to come to the town of La Honda to help find her missing brother.
Once in La Honda, Blake discovers that Vic’s brother ran afoul with a Mexican cartel. Blake confronts Vic about his discovery, and she confesses her real motive.
“When writing the story, I knew that I really wanted to create a great femme fatale,” said Hammer. “When Baker steps up and arrives in La Honda, he very quickly finds himself facing more dangers than he initially expected.
“The heart of the story is the relationship between the two,” he said, “as Baker weighs whether to flee the dangers or stay in La Honda and see it through.”
The shooting of the film generated quite a bit of local buzz in 2015 as cameras started rolling at various landmarks on the South Coast.
“A lot of locations you need a production designer, but not San Gregorio Store. It’s perfect,” said Hammer. “Same thing with Duarte’s Tavern.
“We had a hard out (time) at Duarte’s. It had to be a Monday morning and we had to be out of the bar before 11,” he continued. “We had breakfast at 4:30 a.m. and got there at 5 a.m. We maxed out our six hours and then moved on. It was cool to be in there.”
The rustic, cedar-shingled Apple Jack’s Inn serves as the backdrop for a majority of the scenes. Many local La Honda residents make cameo appearances in the film.
“The big thing was that we were mindful not to get in the way of people who were there trying to enjoy the day,” said Hammer. “Going in with a crew of five or less, you can make a really small footprint and not bother anyone.”
“Live or Die in La Honda” has been released. For more information, visit liveordieinlahonda.com.