And that’s a week after the movie shoot had ended. So we thought, let’s not get ourselves caught in a tough spot here. Let’s go ahead and film these scenes anyway with a different actor. And a few days later, after the movie had wrapped, we heard, ‘Okay, Peter Fonda’s ready!’ So we shot the scenes over again with (Peter Fonda), and those are what we used in the movie.”
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
‘TURQUOISE FEVER’ PREMIERE, PLUS ‘MORRICONE IN HIS OWN WORDS’, LONE RANGER 75TH ANNI., NEW FOX WESTERN SERIES, ‘OLD TOWN ROAD’, AND MORE!
TURQUOISE FEVER premiered on the INSP network this past Wednesday. The weekly reality series follows the fortunes and follies of the Nevada-based turquoise-mining Otteson clan. The first show was about trying to satisfy the blue-stone needs of a big-time buyer and jewelry designer from Japan, who is very influential in the jewelry markets throughout Asia. If you missed this one, don’t worry, because there will be other chances. Besides, in a way, episode 2, which airs this Wednesday night, August 21st, is just as good a place to start, as it really focuses on the family, and how the Ottesons became a ‘Blue Gold’ powerhouse.
It all started in 1958, when the family moved en masse from Colorado to Nevada, and patriarch Lynn Otteson staked his first claim. His sons Dean, Danny and Tommy worked with him, and soon there were wives and sons and in-laws in the mix. Dean would become the patriarch, and during this show’s six-year gestation period, he would pass away, pledging his brothers not only to continue mining, but to take care of his widow, and family matriarch, Donna.
Last week I had the opportunity to discuss the show with one of the younger members of the Otteson turquoise-mining family, Danny’s 22-year-old son, and already a veteran miner, Tristan. He’s both the historian and scientist of the family, and he started out by giving me a verbal sketch of the history of turquoise mining, and the Otteson’s involvement with it.
Tristan: Turquoise in the southwestern United States has been mined since way before any white people got here. The Native American mines in the New Mexico region of Cerrillos are some of the oldest turquoise mines in the entire world. But as for the Ottesons, we got into the mining business about three generations before me. Grandpa Lynn's father, Christian Vern Otteson, had worked a little bit at the Lick Skillet Mine in, Manassa, Colorado in the very early 20th Century. He fought in World War I, and passed away when my grandpa was only three years old. With their father gone, my grandpa would work all sorts of jobs to support his family. His uncle Pete King owned Lick Skillet Mine and (Lynn), worked there. Then, when he was about 18, Pete told him to come out and mine one of his claims in Nevada, the Cloverdale, Nevada Blue Gem Mine; it's now called the Easter Blue Mine, and we mine it still. This was around the mid-1940s, and he really started to fall in love with turquoise. So he moved his very young family from Colorado straight out to Nevada. I think it was 1958 that they moved out to Nevada permanently. They lived in Haybag Johnson's chicken coop, and from there my grandpa was able to work various mines around Cloverdale. Finally my grandpa was able to put a four-year lease on Lone Mountain Turquoise Mine, which is one of the most famous turquoise mines in the entire world today.
They barely scraped up enough money to get a little tiny mixer, that he would haul all the way out to that mine. They’d bring water in big metal milk containers, and they had this little tub that was about three-foot-wide, that the family would bathe in, and they’d run the dumps that the other miners had mined out. And when they could fill the bottom of that tub full of turquoise nuggets, they’d load everybody up, drive down to New Mexico to sell it to the Zunis. And not only for money. They would trade it for clothes, groceries, saddles, guns, blankets, anything they could get of value. My grandma would always tell my grandpa, “You can't eat a saddle. Come back with money or food.’ Sometimes they were able to sell a whole bunch of nuggets, and put $3000 or $4,000 in their pocket. Sometimes they only came back with a saddle or two or a blanket.”
From there, my grandpa was able to build up his own operation. He got in with a whole lot of different people over the years where they would front equipment, and he had the mining knowledge. It never seemed like my grandpa got a fair shake out of those deals, but eventually he traded a silver claim he had in eastern Nevada for the Pilot Mountain Turquoise Mines.
Henry: Have you ever considered a profession other than turquoise mining?
Tristan: Personally? I really haven't. In high school, we all dream of being a different thing. But when it came down to it, I had gone out to the turquoise mines with my dad, my older brothers, since I was real little and I couldn't really imagine doing anything else.
Henry: Except for the DeBeers diamond family in South Africa, I can't think of another family that has so dominated the mining of a single mineral.
Tristan: You can see them literally everywhere. The Royston Turquoise, that's one of the world-famous mines that we mined. Just recently there was a story on Jason Mamoa, Aquaman. He came out with a big Indian squash necklace, and said he felt like the native American, Mr. T. That was Royston Turquoise in that squash.
Fire in the hole!
Henry: I know there're many different grades and types of turquoise. Can you give me a sense of the range of value?
Tristan: We generally sell our turquoise by carat weight. To put it in perspective, gold's at $1400 per ounce, right around eight or $9 a carat. Our turquoise ranges anywhere from one to $2 a carat for the not as rare stuff, all the way up to $80 to $100 per carat for really special stuff. So turquoise it can be worth 10 times its weight in gold.
Henry: Do you ever have trouble with claim jumpers?
Tristan: Yuh. Over the years, there's been a lot of times when people come out on our claims, and try to scoop up the vein you're digging on. And with the way the turquoise is, if you don't know how to get it out of the ground, if you see a vein sticking out of the wall and try to go at it with a hammer, you're just going to destroy it. We've had it where you show up to work the next day and your vein is just a whole bunch of chips on the ground.
Henry: Of course, it's not like gold; you can't reform it. It's just gone.
Tristan: Exactly it. They could have just destroyed a $40,000 pocket of Turquoise and not even know it.
Henry: I was fascinated to learn how popular turquoise is in Asia. How much of the turquoise business is outside of the U.S., and what other countries are involved?
Donna shows a buyer from Japan their best stones.
Tristan: In the United States, they want the unique stone. But in other countries, that hasn't caught on except for Japan, that romanticizes Native American jewelry. In other countries, straight blue stones is what they look for. So there's huge turquoise mines in China, over in Egypt, and in Iran. It's kind of a pattern; the high desert places around the world all have turquoise mines. They call it Persian turquoise and Egyptian turquoise; it's really beautiful stuff, along with the Chinese. And they more or less dominate the markets outside of the United States, except for those like the Japanese market that focuses on Native American jewelry.
Henry: When you're prospecting for gold, you look for quartz because they're found together. What sort of indicators do you have when you're looking for Turquoise?
Tristan: There's two different kinds of formations. What you’re looking for is mineralized ground with iron outcroppings or a black chert (note: chert is a hard, fine-grained sedimentary rock composed of quartz crystals). And there’s a kind of a tan rock, dominated mostly by quartz, but not the kind of crystal quartz that you think of. My dad has walked literally thousands of miles, prospecting for turquoise, and tried to teach me and Lane how to read the differences in the minerals.
Henry: What is the process that makes turquoise form?
Lonely out there!
Tristan: Well, this is still largely up for debate. Pretty much the only thing people can really agree on is it's an aluminum copper phosphate. Water goes through the ground, through the cracks, and where the right kind of phosphates are. There's debate on whether the water was going down through the rocks or up through the rocks.
Henry: Do we know how long it takes for turquoise to form?
Tristan: They tested some turquoise down in Arizona and dated it to over 10 million years old. And other people have theories that puts it clear back to the Mesozoic era.
Henry: I get the impression that turquoise is getting harder to find. Do you have any sense of when turquoise will be mined out?
Tristan: That's speculation, but the huge producing mines don't exist anymore. I would put a shelf life on the southwest and American turquoise to maybe 150, 200 years until it could literally be all dug up. Turquoise forms in two different ways; it's either in veins, through the rocks, or it can get into a clay and actually make nuggets of turquoise where it formed and bubbled up.
Don't drop it!
Henry: I know your son is just a baby, but when he grows up, would you want your son to follow in your footsteps in the turquoise mining business?
Tristan: If he wants to mine turquoise, he should. The thing is, it's hard. It's not easy if you weren't brought up in mining turquoise. Honestly, the biggest future in our business are the children that we have that come out to the mines with us, that are constantly learning from us. So I would kind of expect them to mine turquoise. But if they don't want to, that's cool too.
Henry: What is the most important thing to know about turquoise mining?
Tristan: The most important thing about a turquoise mining is appreciating the stones that you're digging up, and appreciating the ground that they come from, and having a good reason to dig them up, which is for your family.
A BOOK REVIEW:
ENNIO MORRICONE IN HIS OWN WORDS – IN CONVERSATION WITH ALESSANDRO DE ROSA, Translated from the Italian by MAURIZIO CORBELLA
Oxford University Press – Hardcover -- $34.95
First let me go on record as saying that I am not a musician, and I have three years of guitar lessons to prove it. But I love music, and I love movie soundtracks. The first soundtrack I ever owned was Monty Norman’s score to DR. NO. I was eight years old, and I begged for it, not because of the music, but because there was a photo of a nearly nude Ursula Andress on the back of the cover. But I listened to the music while I stared at the picture, and I became fascinated.
At NYU Film School I got turned on to Ennio Morricone by fellow student and later screenwriter, the late Ric Menello (TWO LOVERS, THE IMMIGRANT). He made me buy an Italian import album, I, WESTERN, a collection of music from a fistful of Morricone Westerns, and I was hooked.
So, I love film music, I know a fair bit about it, but like the guy who doesn’t want the magic trick ruined by being told how it was done, I am an audience member, not an insider. All of this is my roundabout way of saying that I absolutely loved reading ENNIO MORRICONE IN HIS OWN WORDS, and I probably understood about 10% of it.
The book represents a year of discussions between fellow-composers De Rosa and Morricone, and De Rosa’s encyclopedic knowledge of the maestro’s work makes him a perfect interviewer. If you aren’t signed up for Spotify yet, you’ll want to be, because there is an official cut list, and there are frequent music cues throughout the book, to give voice to the music they are discussing.
You’ll learn about the start of Morricone’s musical career, as a trumpet sideman filling in for his father during World War II. You’ll learn about his classical education, ‘paying his dues’ in radio, and his early scores, including a pair of Spaghetti Westerns he scored before being approached by Sergio Leone for THE MAGNIFICENT STRANGER (later FISTFUL OF DOLLARS). Much space is appropriately devoted to the Morricone/Leone collaborations, and Morricone describes both the inspirations and the frustrations – as when Leone used a piece from Dimitri Tiomkin’s RIO BRAVO score on a temporary music track, then fell in love with it and didn’t want to part with it. He did eventually – he had to part with the recording, or with Ennio.
His other Euro-Western collaborations are not dealt with in similar depth – directors Sergio Sollima (three Westerns together) and Sergio Corbucci (seven Westerns together), each receive just a single reference, but as Corbucci’s was in a list of directors who did not get involved with the scoring, that may be why.
Morricone has much more to say about his work with Brian De Palma, Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci, John Carpenter, Terence Malick, and many others. As an audience member, I was thrilled at the insights, and surprised at how much I learned. I can only imagine how much more I would have learned, had I been a musician.
‘LONE RANGER’ 70TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION SEPT. 17 – WORD ON WESTERNS AT THE AUTRY!
It was on September 15th, 1949, that Clayton Moore first tied on the black mask, mounted the great horse Silver, and thundered into TV history as THE LONE RANGER! On Tuesday, September 17th, join us at 11 a.m. at the Wells Fargo Theatre at The Autry to celebrate the 70th anniversary of television’s first Western series, and one of the most beloved. It’s too early to post a guest attendee list just yet, but Clayton’s daughter, Dawn Moore, is taking part, and Rob Word always gets wonderful guests for his events. I’ll have more details as the event gets closer. In the meantime, here’s a link to my interview with Dawn Moore: http://henryswesternroundup.blogspot.com/2014/09/daughter-remembers-clayton-lone-ranger.html
Dawn and Clayton Moore
FOX BUYS ‘GO WEST’ FROM ‘WESTWORLD’ PRODUCER BRIDGET CARPENTER
GO WEST, a pre-Civil War Western that follows the trek of a diverse group of adventurers heading to California for gold and freedom, has been given a script commitment, as a co-production of Fox Entertainment and CBS. Writer/Producer Bridget Carpenter shared an Emmy nomination for her work on FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, as well as WGA nominations for her work on LIGHTS, and for season one of WESTWORLD. She was also Exec Producer on 2014’s dark contempo American Indian series RED ROAD.
ACTOR/SCREENWRITER/DIRECTOR PETER FONDA DIES AT 79
“Westerns are our way of exploring our own mythology.”
The movies’ counter-culture Captain America has died of lung cancer at age 79. Nominated for an Oscar for ULEE’S GOLD, the son of Oscar-winning screen legend Henry Fonda, and kid brother of double Oscar-winner Jane Fonda, Peter charted his own path. Not always pleased with his mainstream Hollywood films – in a Playboy interview he referred to his 1963 film TAMMY AND THE DOCTOR as TAMMY AND THE SHMUCKFACE – he starred for edgier independent filmmakers like Roger Corman in films like THE WILD ANGELS. Working both in front of and behind the camera, he not only co-starred in 1969’s earth-shaking EASY RIDER, he also wrote and produced it.
Although he didn’t star in a lot of Westerns – his earliest appearances include a WAGON TRAIN and an unsold HIGH NOON pilot where he played Will Kane Jr. – two of the three films he directed were Westerns. In 1971’s poetic tragedy, THE HIRED HAND, Fonda and frequent collaborator Warren Oates play cowboy drifters who split up when Fonda goes back to abandoned wife Verna Bloom. But obligations force them back together. With strong performances, a wise script by Alan Sharp, stunning photography by Vilmos Zsigmond, and very creative visuals, editing and score, HIRED HAND was an artistic triumph for Fonda.
In his second, 1979’s much more light-hearted WANDA NEVADA, Fonda is a modern-day gold prospector who wins 13-year-old Brooke Shields in a poker game. For Fonda, who described his relationship with his father as, “fraught,” one of the great thrills of that production was the chance to direct Henry Fonda, and to afterwards receive a letter from him about the experience. “It was a five-page letter. And at the end, ‘In my forty-one years of making motion pictures, I have never seen a crew so devoted to the director. You are a very good director. And please remember me for your company.’ Now a company is a word we normally use in stage. But in John Ford’s time, he carried a (stock) company of actors with him from one film to the next. Ward Bond was one of them. John Carradine was another. Great characters that he would have as his company. And the fact that my dad wanted to be part of my company… How cool is that?”
Fonda’s later acting career would get a considerable boost after his strong supporting role in 2007’s 3:10 TO YUMA. Fred Olen Ray, who was making AMERICAN BANDITS: FRANK AND JESSE JAMES, told me, “He was somebody we were really looking forward to having, because he’s very iconic. We had made the deal, I had spoken to him in France, and coming back on the plane, he fell on the jet-way. He busted his jaw open, and he had to have stitches. And (his people) were saying, he can’t be there on this day, and he could probably be ready in a week.
And that’s a week after the movie shoot had ended. So we thought, let’s not get ourselves caught in a tough spot here. Let’s go ahead and film these scenes anyway with a different actor. And a few days later, after the movie had wrapped, we heard, ‘Okay, Peter Fonda’s ready!’ So we shot the scenes over again with (Peter Fonda), and those are what we used in the movie.”
Ron Maxwell enjoyed directing Fonda in the Civil War home-front drama COPPERHEAD. “Oh, he’s a lot of fun; he’s an icon. There’s one scene where he meets Abner, and they speak about the issues that are dividing the town. And that first shot, when you first see him, is an exact replica, to every detail, to his father playing YOUNG MISTER LINCOLN in John Ford’s 1939 film. The only difference is that film was in black and white, and ours is color. After we finished filming that scene, Peter looked up in the sky and said, ‘Dad, I hope you’re proud of me.’” There is little doubt about that.
OLD TOWN ROAD BOOSTS WRANGLER JEANS SALES!
When, in the song-of-the-summer, OLD TOWN ROAD, Lil Nas X intoned that timeless lyric, “Wrangler on my booty,” the sales of the long-time denim favorite sky-rocketed. It’s kind of the reverse of when the 1934 equivalent of Lil Nas X, Clark Gable, in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, removed his shirt to reveal no undershirt: sales of the undergarment plummeted. Scott Baxter, honcho of Wrangler’s parent company, Kontoor Brands, says they didn’t see it coming. "We knew nothing about it, and then it just took off. It's introduced Wrangler to a more diverse group of folks, and that's where we want to be as a brand." Which is why Wrangler is partnering with Lil Nas X on a line of t-shirts (apparently not learning the Clark Gable lesson).
I don’t quite get the popularity of OLD TOWN ROAD myself. I have nothing against it – I love the opening western stuff, I love Chris Rock in anything, and the contemporary stuff is at worst innocuous, and sometimes amusing, but the song just seems repetitive; it doesn’t grow after the first few bars, and just peters out.
Actually, the big fashion-effect I was expecting this summer is related to ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, and the swoon heard ‘round the world when Brad Pitt took off his shirt. If only they could sell that like they can sell a pair of Wranglers. But then, they couldn’t figure out how to sell it in Gable’s day either.
AND THAT’S A WRAP!
Please check out the September TRUE WEST MAGAZINE, on newsstands now, featuring my article, STAGECOACH – THE LEGEND AT 80!
Speaking of which, I was amazed recently to look at Henry’s Western Round-up – I write it, but I don’t read it that often – and realize that I hadn’t put up links to any of my True West articles in about a year! There are about twenty new ones now, and I’ll update the links to my movie reviews very soon. I don’t understand why the size of the type on these links keeps changing – the Rifleman one is huge, and others are tiny – but at least they work!
All Original Content Copyright August 2019 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved
Tuesday, August 6, 2019
‘THE OUTSIDER’ – THE NEW TRACE ADKINS WESTERN, REVIEW AND INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR, PLUS 3 JOHN FORDS YOU’VE NEVER SEEN, UPCOMING SILVER SPUR AWARDS, AND MORE!
THE OUTSIDER – A MOVIE REVIEW
By Henry C. Parke
With the Marshal out of town on business, a Deputy (Mitchell Johnson) jails Chinese railroad worker Jing (John Foo) so friend James (Kaiwai Lyman) can assault Jing’s wife (Nellie Tsay). Marshal Walker (Trace Adkins) returns to town to find Jing has slaughtered many of James’ friends, and won’t stop until James is dead. The Marshal sympathizes, but knows he must bring Jing in. He knows James is an unrepentant swine; but James is also his son.
THE OUTSIDER is a dark, grim, but involving revenge Western that avoids the trap of the endless clones of THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES by focusing more on the Marshal and company, and their motives and motivations, than on Jing, who we already understand. Relationships change in unexpected ways, and characters who seemed incidental don’t always stay that way.
The direction and performances are consistently strong, and Trace Adkins demonstrates again, as he did in both THE VIRGINIAN and STAGECOACH: THE TEXAS JACK STORY, that he can carry a Western, although here he has ample assistance. This is a physically dark movie: three quarters of it happens at night, half of it in the rain -- it’s the wettest movie I’ve seen since the original DJANGO. But cinematographer Pablo Diez’s gift for color and composition finds beauty throughout, working in perfect visual harmony with production designer Markos Keyto. This third Western from director Timothy Woodward Jr. is his strongest yet.
‘OUTSIDER’ DIRECTOR TIMOTHY WOODWARD JR.
Off the top of my head, I can think of only four living directors who have made three Westerns: Kevin Costner, Walter Hill, Simon Wincer (LONESOME DOVE, etc.) and Timothy Woodward Jr. Woodward is 36, or will be soon, and has already directed sixteen features, from Horror to Sci-fi to Crime Drama to Westerns. His first, TRADED, was a very impressive entrance into the genre, and his newest, THE OUTSIDER, is even better. “I love the genre. I grew up watching Westerns; my grandfather would have them on all the time after school. There's something magical about their kind of moral, where all the branches of government are on your hip. It was a simpler time in certain ways and more difficult in other ways. Just the complexity of it, the scenery -- I love all of it.”
In 2016’s TRADED, a father (Michael Pare) must find his daughter, who’s been lured with the opportunity of becoming a Harvey Girl, then sold into prostitution. It also stars Kris Kristofferson, Trace Adkins and Tom Sizemore. In 2018’s HICKOK, Luke Hemsworth plays Wild Bill at a time early in his career, when he becomes a lawman. It also features Kris Kristofferson and Trace Adkins, as well as Bruce Dern.
In 2019’s THE OUTSIDER, Trace Adkins moves from villain to lead. I was in Alabama recently, speaking to Adkins on the set of THE ULTIMATE COWBOY SHOWDOWN, which he hosts, and which premieres on INSP October 14th. He was very excited about THE OUTSIDER, and told me, “It's a really interesting character to play because, well, I was a bad guy, but now I've kind of seeking redemption. But his seed is bad and there's just nothing to do about it. My son is a lost cause. It's a really interesting role.”
Trace in the rain
THE OUTSIDER arrives on Blu-Ray and DVD on Tuesday, August 6th. It’s already available digitally.
Henry Parke: You said you watched Westerns with your grandfather. What were you watching?
Tim Woodward: He used to watch GUNSMOKE all the time. And then, I loved TOMBSTONE, BUTCH CASSIDY. We used to watch everything. He was a huge John Wayne fan, from STAGECOACH to THE SEARCHERS, but he would watch whatever was on TV, and there was always a lot of stuff on Saturdays.
Henry Parke: Did the script for THE OUTSIDER come to you or did you develop it?
Tim Woodward: My distributor was saying, we really would like for you to do another Western; here's a couple of ideas. So the idea was that, at this time period, the Chinese were coming through, building the railroad, and we just started doing some research.
Henry Parke: This is your fourth film with screenwriter Sean Ryan. You two most to have a really exceptional rapport.
Tim Woodward: I like Sean a lot; some of my earlier films are with him. I hadn't worked with him in a couple of years and I thought he'd be a great for this because his detail for action and his detail for character, he can create conflict. Sometimes it's not the word spoken, but the word unspoken that means a lot. So we kind of bounce off each other. And there's ideas that come to me, on-set, and Sean has no, no problem with that. Being able to allow me to adjust these things by saying, what if this character resists this way or that? We work really well together.
Henry Parke: Revenge stories are familiar and popular, especially in Westerns, but the structure of yours is very unusual. Characters that seem to be minor become major; characters that traditionally would be there until the end, die. And revelations about characters change how you feel about them. So your story does not play it safe and predictable. Did the fact that you were not going on a traditional straight line for a Western concern you?
Tim Woodward: It didn't, because I'd done two before, and my goal is always to challenge myself to do something different. TRADED was a very classical story, a nice throwback to some of the 1940s, 1950s westerns that I loved. Then with HICKOK we wanted a different approach. More of the myth, the way the comic books used to play Hickok, instead of the traditional, exact history of how he looked at things. With THE OUTSIDER, this is a dark time for the Chinese. Let's take these characters and let's put them in a very bad situation, bad for everyone involved. Where the bad guy's not necessarily the bad guy, or at least he believes what he's doing, and everyone is affected by this. Our central protagonist, he's affected, but all these other characters, they're just as much in the mix and they have just as much conflict. Telling that kind of story was interesting and I think you hit it on the head: there's so many times where you know exactly what's coming. And I really just wanted to try something new where we just mixed it up a little bit and we said, okay, let's keep you engaged, but let's throw you off a little bit, not let you know the next step of what's happening, and let's bring certain character flaws to light later in their traits.
Henry Parke: I was talking to Trace Adkins a couple of months ago, and he was telling me how much he enjoys working with you. Trace has been in all your westerns, and now he's moved up from villain to protagonist. What does he bring to your films in particular?
Tim Woodward: Trace Adkins is a star. I mean, he has such a big presence. In person, he's the nicest guy you'll meet. But when he gets on camera, I don't even think Trace realizes how good he is. He really is his toughest critic, but he has just an aura about him. He draws people in. I mean, it's the voice, the height, it's the intensity that he can bring. He's just got it, you know? Whatever character he is playing, he comes in and he just manhandles it. Without going too detailed in the story, he has a lot of inner conflict going on, he's very conflicted, and I think he did a great job; I was super happy with his performance.
Henry Parke: In addition to Trace, you work with certain actors a lot: Kris Kristofferson, Danny Trejo, Kaiwi Lyman, John Foo. Are you trying to do the John Ford thing and create your own stock company?
Jon Foo and Sean Patrick Flanery
Tim Woodward: (laughs) A little bit. You know, I like working with people that I trust. It’s such a collaborative effort. If I get along with them and I can see the picture with them, I continue to work with them. Michael Pare is another person that I've worked with a lot, and Johnny Messner. There's certain roles and certain films that I feel like soon as I read them, this would work great for them and I know they can bring performance. Kaiwai Lyman's a guy that's on the rise, he's a star in the making. And John Foo’s got something special about him too.
Henry Parke: Pablo Diaz has shot nine films for you. I'm just struck by the beauty of his work. What’s special about his work, and your working relationship, that you'd have done so many pictures together?
Tim Woodward: Well, we have a friendship, we have a trust in each other. We have a bond. When I say hey, here's this western, and I want to shoot it where 75% of it's night, and I want 50% of it to be pouring rain. First thing is Pablo is like, “Uh, okay. Here's what we should do. Here's how we can make it look beautiful.” And Pablo is also just extremely gifted in the fact that he doesn't like to settle. Neither one of us do. So we will sit there and we will try as hard as we can with the resources we have available to make something that we both feel like has a chance of being special to everyone else -- it's already special to us. We really push ourselves hard. I know it's gonna be cold nights and 30 degree weather, but I'm here with you. Pablo has been there for me on that journey and he's helped me grow as a director, and I've watched him grow as a DP. I hope I do 20 more 30 more films with Pablo. Cause I love being on set all the time, and I love working with him.
Henry Parke: Speaking of how dark and how wet the film is, it's always more expensive shooting at night. And rain effects are tricky, and run up expenses. Why, when you're doing a film that you have to be able to deliver on a budget, were those choices so important to you?
Tim Woodward: Because for me, it was the movie. This tragic event happens and it's dark. The future is uncertain. The rain blocks what we can see. So besides trying to do something completely different than what I'd done before, it's just not something you think about when we imagine cowboys and horses. The first thing that pops in your head, small town, the brown dirt. We don't think about mud and a horse riding through the rain. Visually, I think it's striking, but I also think when you had those components to it, it adds an element of, like “trappedness”. I wanted you to feel the character's emotions, feel this darkness.
Henry Parke: Do you storyboard a lot?
Tim Woodward: I don't storyboard. I like to get on set. I want to breathe it in, I want to look at it, I want to feel around it. I want to communicate with my DP and my actors. And then figure out a way of making it look as good as we can with the environments we have. I've tried to story board before and found that it traps me on smaller budget film because I get this stuck in my head, maybe it takes two hours to do the shot. I'm trying to build it from the ground up. We have this amazing landscape here already, that works great for the character. Now let's figure out within that world, how do we make this look amazing and work for the story.
Trace Adkins and Kaiwi Lyman
Henry Parke: Do you have a sense of how many pages a day you do, or how many setups a day on an average?
Tim Woodward: It really depends on what type of scene it is. I've done scenes where I've only done three pages a day because it's calls for tons of extras. And I've done some where we've been at seven to eight pages a day. It just really depends on what we're doing and how smart we're blocking it off. Usually in these types of budgets, we'll shoot all of our town exteriors over the course of a couple of days, where we've got 50 extras. What we don't have is a ton of time; we're talking three, four-week shoots for these westerns, and when you have live animals and action, all this stuff, it's definitely tough to do. But it's also really rewarding.
Henry Parke: The majority of your audience will not be seeing it on a big screen, but at home. Does that change the way you shoot and compose your shots?
Tim Woodward: Not as much, just because you really hope they're going to see it on a big screen. But it does make you a little more conscious of the close-ups just because with streaming especially things can get compressed. Someone on a big screen, in a medium shot, standing tall, you can see him really well. Then you get to the small screen and it's a little bit harder to see. So sometimes we go a little bit tighter in certain conversations for that, but I just feel like content is content now. People are watching it every which way. So we just try to make it the best we can.
Henry Parke: You shot at Big Sky Ranch, Caravan West, and were you the last film at Paramount Ranch before it burned?
Tim Woodward: Yes, we were. We’d taken a few days to shoot at Big Sky, and were scheduled to go back to Paramount Ranch the next Friday, and the fire struck. I had to recreate certain buildings. Jon Foo in the prison cell; we had to recreate that prison set. We were able to use the wide shot from an earlier scene that established the two characters, a little bit of manipulation and split screening and then do the closeup somewhere else.
Henry Parke: What was the biggest challenge to making THE OUTSIDER?
Tim Woodward: The wind, the rain effects and the fire going at one time. The mountains were blazing while we were filming at Big Sky. We had the fire department down below, I'd come out from being under these rain machines, the wind was going about 40 to 50 miles an hour -- so it would blow the rain any which way. We had to have a rain-tower set up 30 feet, behind the actors, then one in another direction, one in another direction, just in case, whichever way the wind blew. But you would come out from this rain and then all of a sudden the mountain would be on fire and you're just looking at it in awe. So that was challenging for sure. And I did a lot of “one-takers” in this movie, where we were on one character -- there's a six minute one, a one take scene.
Henry Parke: Do you know what your next Western's going to be?
Tim Woodward: I'm looking at a few things. I've got a story of John Wesley Harden that I really like a lot, and we may incorporate some of the guys from HICKOK in that. Someone has brought up, but the idea of a sequel for TRADED, and then I've got a story about Belle Starr as well. I can say with certainty that I'm going to do another western for sure.
Henry Parke: Anything else I should know?
Tim Woodward: I just want to say that the cast did a great job. I think it's on screen. Sean Patrick Flannery, this is my first time working with him, but I was so impressed by him. Nellie NeeYa, who played John Foo's wife, she needs a tremendous amount of credit for what she gave to the story. And again, we're not on a soundstage shooting this where it's a nice environment. We have 40 mile-an-hour winds, we've got rain flying everywhere. We've got dirt, dust. We've got a very tough environment. I think everybody did really well in my crew.
THREE JOHN FORDS YOU HAVEN’T SEEN!
Alpha Video never ceases to amaze me! Month after month they come out with the oddest and most intriguing films, and they all list price for under $10! Here are three new releases, all directed by John Ford.
JUST PALS – a 1920 silent starring the formidable but endearing Buck Jones was the first film Ford directed when he switched studios from Universal to Fox. Jones plays Bim, an aimless layabout who wants to reform when he befriends 10 year old Bill (Georgie Stone). Bim sends Bill to school, to become something better than Bim himself has, an honorable act not unnoticed by teacher Mary (Helen Ferguson). It’s well-made and charming, and if the plot sounds similar to that of Chaplin’s THE KID, which made a star of Jackie Coogan, keep in mind that JUST PALS was made a year earlier.
SEX HYGIENE – In the collection SEX EDUCATION FILMS FROM WORLD WAR II is John Ford’s SEX HYGIENE, which is about – you guessed it – what not to do if you’re a soldier or sailor who doesn’t want to catch something awful. Ford directed the non-clinical scenes, mostly of military types shooting pool and discussing whether or not to go out and have a good time. The players include George Reeves, later TV’s Superman, and Robert Lowery, later the Columbia serial’s Batman. The clinical footage is done by Otto Brower, a talented Western director who helmed FIGHTING CARAVANS (1931) starring Gary Cooper, and many others. BUT BE WARNED, THE MEDICAL SECTIONS ARE NOT FOR THE YOUNG AND/OR IMPRESSIONABLE! You will see more diseased penises in ten minutes than a brothel-worker sees in a lifetime. Also included in the set, directed by Oscar-winner Lewis Milestone is KNOW FOR SURE, featuring John Ford regulars Ward Bond, Tim Holt, and J, Carrol Naish. And TO THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES stars Jean Hersholt, of DR. CHRISTIAN fame, Robert Mitchum, Noah Beery Jr., and is directed by Arthur Lubin, of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and FRANCIS THE TALKING MULE fame. Ford’s is the only one of the three you need to cover your eyes for.
THIS IS KOREA – John Ford had made a number of fine gung ho documentaries for the War Effort during Word War II (besides SEX HYGIENE), including THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY and DECEMBER 7TH, and in 1951 went to Korea to do it again. At first it seems like his WWII films, only in color, but it is a much more grim film as it progresses. Ford didn’t like anything he saw about how the war was handled. The conditions of the citizenry are awful, and those of our military were not much better. Some of the commentary on the action is jarring – a soldier fires a flame-thrower into a cave while the narrator says, “Fry ‘em out! Burn ‘em out! Cook ‘em! We found ‘em dug in ten feet deep!” Later the camera shows a large cemetery of American soldiers, as a narrator whispers, “Remember us…Remember us…” The government wouldn’t release it, but finally Republic Pictures did. Not fun, but fascinating.
All Alpha Video's can be found here: https://www.oldies.com/collection-view/Alpha-Video-DVDs.html
SILVER SPURS IN SEPTEMBER!
On Friday, September 20th, the Reel Cowboys will host the 22nd Annual Silver Spur Awards, which will celebrate three TV series marking their 60th anniversaries: BONANZA, LARAMIE, and RAWHIDE. After many years at The Sportsman’s Lodge, the event is moving to Burbank, and the Calamigos Equestrian Center. Honorees will be Bobby Crawford of LARAMIE, Clint Eastwood (hope he comes!), Darby Hinton of DANIEL BOONE, Margaret O’Brien of BAD BASCOMB (and MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS), stuntman Jack Gill, and RIDE THE HIGH-COUNTRY star Mariette Hartley. Others planning to attend include Morgan Brittney, Dawn Wells, Johnny Crawford, L.Q. Jones, Pat Boone, Cathy Garver, Rosey Grier, and Robert Carradine.
There’s always a delicious dinner, a silent auction, lively entertainment. This year the event will be benefiting The Gary Sinise Foundation. Tickets are $200 for general, $250 for premium. You can learn more, and buy tickets, by calling 818-395-5020, or going to SilverSpurAwards.com.
AND THAT’S A WRAP!
ALL ORIGINAL CONTENT COPYRIGHT AUGUST 2019 BY HENRY C. PARKE – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED