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Women To Watch: Alicia J. Keyes

Women To Watch: Alicia J. Keyes

Seven years ago, Alicia Keyes left the film business where she was Executive Director of Worldwide Acquisitions and Co-productions for Walt Disney Studios.   She was responsible for the acquisition of theatrical motion pictures for distribution which included select and all international rights for films under the Buena Vista International banner and domestic and remake rights under the Buena Vista Motion Pictures Banner (Touchstone/Hollywood/Disney).  

Select deals included Bruce Almighty, Motorcycle Diaries, K-19, Insomnia, and the remake rights for Intacto, as well as managing BVI’s partnership with Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibili in Japan. She was one of my favorite clients and when she left the business to adopt twins, marry Peter Touche and live in London; her goodbye really moved me.  So I was thrilled when I heard she was back in the film business.

Alicia moved back to the U.S. with her husband and her 12 year old twin sons to New Mexico three years ago.  She loves its location, a short plane flight to L.A., where she can arrive at 7:30 in the AM, put in a full day’s work and be home for dinner.  The upcoming generation of filmmakers with their dynamic spirit and untold stories, the crews in New Mexico and the 25% tax credit all make it an ideal place for her to use the skills she has honed so thoroughly.

Utilizing her contacts and experience with talent and distributors, Alicia has started her own company, AJK Films (formerly Sandia Productions), in order to develop material for the feature film market that not only targets specific audience demographics, but also has cross-over potential and a strong marketing hook.   And best of all, she has a film in post titled BLAZE YOU OUT.


BLAZE YOU OUT tells the story of Lupe, an aspiring DJ, and her sister Alicia; two young women struggling to make a living in the Esperanza Valley, a community that has been suffocated by generations of heroin use. Ever since the death of their parents, Lupe has looked out for her rebellious sister and kept her on track. When Alicia suddenly disappears, Lupe is forced into the heart of the town’s dark underworld. She quickly discovers that in order to survive, and save the person that matters most, she must not only harness the power that exists within her, but also that surrounds her.

This is a female driven David and Goliath story.  It stars up and coming and established Latino and Native actors such as Veronica Diaz Carranza, Melissa Cordero, Jeremy Ray Valdez, and Mark Adair Rios along with Elizabeth Pena, Q’orianka Kilcher and Raoul Trujillo, himself a New Mexico native.  This is not a “Latino” film, but a universal movie that is touching and empowering and that happens to have a cast that’s not white.  In fact, every actor that was offered the film accepted, which is a real testament to the material and the directors, who have rarely heard original voices.

The location of the film, Espanola, is a community rich in cultures.  Aside from being the Heroin Capital of the World, it is the spiritual home to many Native American tribes and rich with Spanish and Mexican history.  This female driven story about empowerment seems ripe to connect with its core demographic of 18-35 year old women.  The film will have incredible music- handled by Cutting Edge a music group that usually works with bigger films, but who has come on board BLAZE with enthusiasm and put together great artists for the movie.  This film is somewhat analogous to Sin Nombre or Winter’s Bone with a Quentin Tarantino edge.

The creative team behind BLAZE YOU OUT has ignited the film industry in the State of New Mexico. These young filmmakers, which include Alicia and her Co-Directors, Diego Joaquin Lopez and Mateo Frazier are part of an exciting movement that is helping to redefine Chicano cinema and introduce relevant stories about their culture and the land. Having grown up watching seminal movies in the Latino space that primarily revolve around immigration and gang warfare; this new generation of creative thinkers is ready to break out and promote a new voice: one of empowerment, strength and growth.

Co-Directors/Writers: Diego Joaquín López & Mateo Frazier began their creative partnership in 2009 on the award winning short film, TORCIDA. Over the past few years, López and Frazier have helped to ignite and define the burgeoning film and television movement in the State of New Mexico by writing and directing locally based stories. In 2010, López was a selected writer for Robert Redford’s Los Luceros project. In this program, he honed the skills he developed at the NM Film Makers Intensive and the NM Media Arts Program while also helming the nationally recognized film THROUGH THEIR EYES. López has also has a love for acting and has appeared in TERMINATOR: SALVATION and LOVE RANCH. Frazier, in addition to being a university educator teaching Film and Digital Media Arts and serving as the Fine Arts Department Chair at Northern New Mexico College, has consulted for the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), has been the Production Manager for the Latino Producer’s Academy since 2007 and served as the Film Liaison for Northern New Mexico on COWBOYS & ALIENS and CRAZY HEART. In his spare time, Frazier produces award winning film and music projects. Frazier and López bring a strong and varied experience base to their projects, this coupled with a unique and fascinating vision creates an experience that challenges, entertains and informs.

Because Alicia was able to find private equity to finance the film, she has the luxury (and the knowledge) to choose the right international and domestic sales agent for the job.  Alicia has strong ideas of which sales companies and distributors would be right for BLAZE YOU OUT.  She’s looking for long-term partners that believe in the filmmakers and the marketing power of the specific audience demographic for the film.  Alicia has already launched a social marketing campaign which begun under the Associate Producer, Kerith Lemon, a former MTV Networks executive with an extensive background  in non-traditional marketing.  Kerith was tasked with inventing a proactive approach to marketing for independent filmmakers, which will hopefully serve as a map for others in the future.  The beginnings of which can be seen across the film’s website and on Facebook,Twitter and Tumblr.

Alicia’s next project will be a romantic comedy with Fernando Merielles, Nando Olival and Marina Fuentes.  She believes that Brazil is the next country that is going to explode onto the film scene, as it already has with its economy and its progressive politics.

After my long conversation with Alicia, I cannot express how much I am anticipating seeing this film.

Here are some more notes on key cast and crew:

Blaze You Out stars breakout talents Veronica Diaz-Carranza (Mamitas, Taco Shop) and Melissa Cordero (Language of a Broken Heart) alongside award winning Elizabeth Pena (Jacob’s Ladder, The Incredibles, Tortilla Soup),Jeremy Ray Valdez (Constantine, La Mission and Walkout) and Q’orianka Kilcher (The New World, Princess Kaiulani) as well as industry veterans Raoul Trujillo (Cowboys and Aliens) and Mark Adair Rios (Along Came Polly).

.”We’re excited to be a part of a new wave of filmmakers who are unearthing contemporary stories that draw from the rich culture and history of New Mexico.” Said Alicia Keyes Touche, “The three of us are a product of the support our State and legislature has shown toward film. We feel blessed to be able to live, work and create in New Mexico.” 

The film is being executive produced by Peter Touche of Sandia Media, co-produced by Brent Morris and O’Shea Read, and associate produced by Kerith Lemon. The Director of Photography is Yasu Tanida.

For additional information visit,

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Acquisitions Inquiries:

AJK Films

Tel: 505.821.8888

info AT


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