The Killing Shot started off as an animation for one of my classes in college about 6 years ago or so, and did well, but something always felt off about it. It kept coming back to me from time to time, until it started to form as a live action short film. The preliminary work of the shots was already completed from creating the animation, although some of the liberties that I had taken with physics now had to be addressed. With that in mind, I started to flesh out a script and planned to shoot it as a silent film for my short western.
I spent months researching and exploring in order to find a suitable location. Driving around to all the ghost towns in southern Arizona was a great experience and I got to make it an excuse to take the family out for a weekend drive. Unfortunately the ghost towns proved to only be remnants of what once was. I needed a two sided old west town and came across some great locations with great caretakers, such as Frank at Mescal, (an outpost of sorts to old Tucson) as well as the great folks at Gammons Gulch, north of Benson. While the sets were fantastic, they were unfortunately out of my budget.
I had started to worry that I would never get to make my first film, due to budget constraints, but I was pointed towards a place called Stumpyville, which while too small for my needs, did direct me to a somewhat new resort for European tourists, just outside of Tombstone. Apache Spirit Ranch was built in early 2011 and was built with the hotel rooms creating a two sided old west town. The managers were a little hesitant to allow another film to be shot at their location, since the last film crew was rude to their guests and changed the film from a western to one about farting aliens. I convinced them that we would be respectful and that it would be indeed a story about an old west gunfight and set the wheels into motion.
On august 29th, my dream started to become a reality. With the help of my coworkers and friends at West End Studio, (some of which are film students at The Art Institute and Pima Community College) we set the stage and started filming the action. With two gunfighters from nearby Tombstone, Craig Oldfellow and Sandy Bob Sanderson, as my two main characters and Greg, aka the Tombstone day player of Mayor John P Clum playing the dual roles of the bartenders, we had our actors. We managed to get all the shots and then some, not only completed in under time, but under budget.
So this brings us to the present, where I am currently trying to juggle my own edit in between other gigs that need attending to. The once silent film has underwent a bit of a metamorphosis and will now be four films from essentially the same footage. I will still have the silent film version, but I am also creating a spaghetti western, a straight action/drama gunfight, and a campy/slapstick version (remember those extra shots I mentioned before?).
As I progress through my edit, I will post some stills and clips from the versions to keep any of you interested abreast of it. Once this is completed, I plan to enter it into film fests and begin working towards getting my next short film into production. The next one will be of a larger scale, 15-25 minutes vs the two to five minutes of The Killing Shot and will be a fish out of water tale of a man in a monastery.