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.

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