Sunday, July 15, 2012

Quiet on the Set

2nd of a two-part series

On the first of July of this year J & L were thrilled to be invited behind the scenes for the making of 'Tales of the Frontier' by TwoGunProductions in the picturesque town of Crestline. It was here on the set we learned how truly difficult filming an action packed western series can be considering the number of people needed to film, the exercise involved in climbing up and down the natural surroundings near Lake Gregory in the forest of the San Bernardino Mountains, to get the perfect film angle, and the many, many 'takes' for a seemingly simple ten second shot.

Tino Luciano, director/producer, and his business partner Garry Lee Brooks, writer/producer, allowed a behind the scene glimpse giving us the rare chance to see a television series being created. The day of the shoot was the final scene when the hero, played by actor Chris Hlovek, saved the heroine, played by actress Candice Bolek, from a group of ruthless and rather nasty looking hooligans. These 'bad guys' were played by the Pioneer Gunfighters. Little did we realize as we drove our more than competent steed, played by our Toyota FJ Cruiser, down some pretty narrow, steep, and twisting forest roads to the location that we would spend the next four hours enthralled in watching scenes being filmed which, and we're not experts in this field, probably would only end up as minutes on the screen.

We have to give a lot of kudos to the film crew who used patience, humor, and genuine concern for the actors, horse handlers, horses, and everyone else who was on set. Even we visitors were treated with kindness and not stares of 'why are you here watching our filming magic.. Magic it was as we witnessed the chemistry of the TwoGunProductions crew in action filming, directing, applying make-up, making sure everyone was safe during the live gun fire (blanks of course), moving cameras/lights/etc., and the rest which make up a fine tuned company. These people sincerely enjoy each others company and seemed more like a family than those with strictly a working relationship. Of course, is a small company and perhaps as it becomes known for great story telling, as discussed in the previous article, they will grow to the size of a major Hollywood studio but doubtful they would ever forget about being genuinely nice to each other.  Though, we at J & L truly doubt that would happen - these people are just nice, period.

Tom Girt and his spouse Paula are responsible for the Pioneer Gunfighters action group who have been playing gunfighters in Southern California and beyond for over 30 years. This group, made up of at least seven gunfighters, brings the realistic attitude and behavior of what life must have been like in the late nineteenth century when honor was all important and a gun generally solved the issue when that honor was disrespected. I spoke to Mark Elsey, one of the gunfighters who advised me he loved the group and enjoyed every time they went out into public to display their 'gunfighter antics' be that at Calico, Colton Frontier Town, or any of the other numerous venues where they entertain visitors and guests. Looking at the outfits he and his fellow gunfighters wore shows that they take their job very seriously and mean business. This happened to be one of the first ventures for the group into a filming career.

But it was not all dress up and play acting for the gunfighters and the main characters for this day's shoot.  The temperature was hovering in the low eighties, dirt was flying everywhere with the horses tramping about, flies and mosquitoes buzzing about our heads, and the sun peeking in and out of the tall tree branches making the director and cinematographer Jake Borowski scratch their heads looking for the best lighting. Watching the Best Boy, Andrew Piovet, and the Key Grip, Vincent Luciano, bounding from tree to tree with gear in their hands to make the director and cinematographer happy was enough to exhaust anyone.

Filming a television series, which can be seen on, is no easy matter and those with poor tempers need not apply. It is an avenue which leads to wait, move, wait, get it right, wait, try again, and finally 'cut'.  How many times we heard James Fuentez, Asst. Director, yell 'quiet on the set' is unknown but when he warned us he meant it.

To name everyone involved with this wonderfully wholesome and entertaining series would be a tough job but one only needs to visit Terry Kurtz's website , a dear friend and the one who initially invited J & L to the filming, and who is in charge in filming the series 'behind the scenes' action to get the full flavor of what goes on behind the camera.

It was a fascinating experience and one which will not be forgotten. A special thanks to all those on that July 1st who allowed a couple of explorers to watch what few get a chance to see. We only hope they will keep up the good work and perhaps the message that there are true heroes will resonate across this great land of ours. We can only pray and hope.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Where Have All the Good Guys Gone?

When we view a film we often wonder when and if a ‘good guy’ will appear on the screen. It seems in today’s Hollywood, bad guys are considered good guys while the real good guys, unless they are action heroes from comic books (who seem to show a lot of faults themselves) are seldom seen or have so many personal issues it would confuse the screen writer let alone the viewers who desire to see a real hero.
Give me a chance to watch Ben Cartwright once more!

J and L were invited recently behind the scenes to witness Day 7 of a film-shoot at the Thousand Pines Christian Camp, just outside of Crestline, California. The series being shot is Tales of the Frontier by film director/producer Tino Luciano and screen writer/producer Garry Lee Brooks of the most interesting aspects of this visit was not just to see the crew at work but to really experience the perspective behind the cameras. What we discovered about this series (and there will be more we were told) is a production company taking America back to when people were good, moral, and celebrating that goodness. It is about people choosing right, and doing right, not a series about dysfunctional families or groups of friends who spend their lives boring the rest of us with their trivial and mundane lives or so-called adventures (if one can refer to living and screaming in New Jersey as an adventure just to name one). Instead, what we found is that Tales of the Frontier is a refreshingly wholesome series about when people ‘screw up’ but have the guts to right that mistake. It is not a ‘blame the other guy’ series, but one of self-reflection, redemption and forgiveness.

We learned it was a well-paced, family oriented production which sent most of us on the set back to the days of Gunsmoke, Maverick, and The Big Valley.  There was no nudity, no over-the-top cursing scenes, and certainly no scenes where the bad guy finishes first. This production company has a certain message to deliver and that is: there are good guys and good gals surrounding us on a daily basis and we should embrace them.

Though they place the action back in the 19th century it does not date the message that the good will triumph over the evil. In fact, the day were on scene was set in 1886 when Adam Shepard (played by Chris Hlovek) rescued the love of his life Sarah Archer (played by Candice Bolek) from the grips of a mangy looking group of ruffians (played by the Pioneer Gunfighters out of Oak Hills, Ca).

We were privileged to watch the filming of the final scene for the first season, ‘The Bride,’ and cannot say enough about the professionalism and courtesy we were shown by the film crew including the director, writer, boom operator, sound man, make-up gal, and all the others who made us feel right at home.

J and L have to give Terry Kurtz  a special thank you for inviting us to the filming location. Mr. Kurtz has been very involved with the crew, filming his own Behind the Scenes which can be viewed at his website or on YouTube. Terry is the consummate film master with steady hands, eagle eyes, and a sense for what is to be shot and what does not need the camera pointed in that direction.

Tino Luciano, the director/producer, was more than a gentleman on the set, and believe us the location was not an easy shoot for even such a distinguished person as Tino as the landscape consisted of extreme difficulties in steep grade and soft dirt. In fact, in one scene, prior to the shooting, Mr. Luciano actually had to carry the character ‘Sarah’ up a part of the escapement since her time period wardrobe would not allow her to make the climb so effortlessly and cleanly.

It should be mentioned that when Tino arm-carried Sarah many of the males standing around were a bit wounded since Candice Bolek is a very attractive, young and vibrant woman (besides being a darn good actress).   The sighs of ‘I should have gotten there sooner’ were heard around the film site. Climbing boots and faster legs should be in order for such shoots if one wants to win the leading ladies heart is our opinion.
The filming of the series Tales of the Frontier, which can be seen on  is something to share with all family members since it shows and teaches the value of love, forgiveness, and the idea that we all have issues on a daily basis but through trusting one another we can get through it all and for the better.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – “Quiet on the Set” – another installment of J and L’s time on the set with details and a lot more photos.

Truth and Love Endure