FRESNO — Filmmaker Valerie Bouloudian McCaffrey is getting back to her roots for her latest film project.
The Roosevelt High School graduate, who is of Armenian descent, is the producer and casting director for the feature film “Lost and Found in Armenia”. It will film almost entirely in Armenia.
“There is an effort going on to establish a professional film business there as a way to get people outside the country to think of Armenia,” McCaffrey says. “This will be the first production where we are having American and Armenian actors together.
“I hope this helps put Armenia on the map so more people know where it is.”
The film — starring Jamie Kennedy and Angela Sarafyan, will shoot a week in San Diego before going to Armenia in June for the remainder of the filming. Kennedy plays an American tourist who vacations in Turkey to get his mind off a bad break up. He ends up in a small Armenian village where he is accused of being a Turkish spy.
McCaffrey has made several trips to Armenia through her work with the World Children’s Transplant Fund, but this is her first for filming. She wants it to be the first of many.
This project by McCaffrey, whose maiden name is Bouloudian, is the latest in 30-year Hollywood career that’s had her working as a casting director and producer for TV shows and films. She found it easier to deal with the madness of show business because of her roots in the Central Valley.
“I’m so glad that I am from Fresno. It gave me everything I needed to be successful,” McCaffrey says.
Growing up in Fresno, she learned the skills to motivate people. Not only was she a cheerleader and homecoming queen at Roosevelt in 1973, McCaffrey was one of the 10 top finalists in California Junior Miss. She performed in several local plays and was a member of the school’s forensics team.
she wanted to be in the entertainment business
McCaffrey says that from age 5 she knew she wanted to work in the entertainment world. Acting didn’t work out, she says, because no one was interested in someone with Armenian features.
“Being dark haired and dark skinned meant I was not castable. I tried out for a few ethnic parts — like Latinos –but realized there was no future in acting, ” McCaffrey says.
“I am now doing what I love. When you are involved with the producing end, you are part of the creative input from beginning to end.”
After graduating from California State University Long Beach, she worked for Chuck Barris and Cheech and Chong handling casting, publicity, and production.
She was vice president of casting at New Line Cinema for six years and director of casting at Universal Studios for eight where she cast James Cromwell in “Babe,” a role that earned him an Oscar nomination.
She became an independent casting director in 2000 and worked on “Hard Candy,” “American History X,” “Dark City,” and “Problem Child.”
She’ll be busy the next few months trying to get the most out of of her small budget for “Lost and Found in Armenia.” Problems that come with moviemaking don’t worry McCaffrey — something else she learned in Fresno. “My father Vernon taught me to be fearless,” she says. “If you have no fear, you can do anything.”