I’ve started a diary to track my progress and process making the 12 Westerns in 12 Months project. Every now and then I will be publishing these daily notes that were taken on my phone. They have not been edited at all.
DECEMBER 1, 2018
“The night before I left, she cried in my arms because we were going to be separated all winter. That was an awful long, bleak winter. It lasted forty years.”
-The Story of Charley, Dorothy Johnson
DECEMBER 2, 2018
Orme Ranch – Sedona
DECEMBER 4, 2018
The meeting with Nick ended up being more about reconnecting than talking about Heart of the Gun. I was hoping he’d have more criticisms of the script but it was still nice to have him as a sounding board for some of the recent ideas I’ve had. We both feel there’s something missing in the script.
While re-reading it I was really struck by the idea of this infertile hero. I don’t know if that was consciously a big part of how I felt about him originally but it is now.
The more I discuss these Westerns with collaborators, the more real the project becomes, sometimes in scary ways. Nick asked if we’d shoot this in 20 days and I said yes, that’s the max I could do while still having a break before the next Western. Then he said, well you wouldn’t even have a break if you did 20 days. I was confused but he’s right: usually we shoot five days on with two days off then five days on and so forth. That makes 28 days. So my turn around would be 2-3 days max before I start filming again. Therefore some of the Westerns may have to be 15 days of filming instead of 20 and some may have to bleed over into a second month.
DECEMBER 7, 2018
“He’s got some very original ideas about life”.
Donald Crisp referencing James Cagney’s Oklahoma Kid character
What amazes me is that Cagney, so not organic to the West and always more at home on the dark streets, brings such energy and life to the Western. This movie is an argument for casting against type in the genre to receive new results.
DECEMBER 9, 2018
I’m going to steal this thing of Gary Cooper being scared of the train in Man of the West for my musical/comedy Western THE BRIDE COMES TO YELLOW SKY.
Cooper: “I used to live here once.”
London: “When you were a boy?”
Cooper: “I don’t know what I was.”
I like this idea of lighting a scene as a couple practicals are lit by characters progressively moving around the room, accompanied by light gags.
DECEMBER 11, 2018
The idea of being away at war and the woman you trusted leaves you were cheats on you. The idea of being betrayed by the homeland and coming to terms with that. As seen earlier in the movie where he sees the cavalry officer and prevents Sara from saying anything.
DECEMBER 14, 2018
Mabel leaves a diary for her husband that explains what happened with the outlaw. We see this visually while hearing her voice is near ration
DECEMBER 17, 2018
I haven’t written but it hasn’t been for lack of things happening. The last diary was talk to text and though it makes no sense in its current state I’ve decided to leave the typos.
For a moment I thought the Texas Red Western was going to be no more but Don and I agreed on a deal. I am waiting to start work on it till our contract has been signed. Too many times I’ve done even a day’s too much work on a project that I shouldn’t have.
I got a call from a man asked for Jason Phelps. At first I thought it was a wrong number and almost hung up, but turns out it was a potential location for our Colorado western. Jason is supposed to scout it soon and I’m crossing my fingers that it’s an early breakthrough.
Kseniya finished the Heart of the Gun artwork and I’m very happy with it.
Tomorrow I’m going to meet a potential investor. We’ll see. There’s more to write now but I don’t have the energy to describe it. Maybe tomorrow.
JANUARY 2, 2019
I’ve neglected this diary. Not because I’ve forgotten about it. No. I think about it daily but somewhere between thought and writing, something happens.
There have been some developments. A person, to remain unnamed, contacted me with a western script and potential funding. The story has promised and I agreed to pursue it if the writer is willing to make changes. The writer is. Let’s see what happens.
FEBRUARY 18, 2019
I have been terrible at writing here. From now on I’ve added it to my calendar as a daily task.
I have also added the challenge of contacting one person per day from now till 2020 who might be able to help with the Westerns. These could be people to help with funding, scouting, resources, or even actors (some far fetched tries but what do I have to lose). Some of these people I’ve worked with before, others I’ve only spoken to in the past, and still some are complete strangers.
Today I contacted Jim Cummings, star and director of Thunder Road, about a role in one of the Westerns.
Others I have contacted so far:
If nothing else, this diary should track daily who I contact for the Westerns.
FEBRUARY 20, 2019
Last night I ran into a woman in Monticello named Casey. I recognized her and eventually she jogged my memory: when we premiered Blood Country there she drove a horse and wagon as part of the pre show entertainment.
It was my luck to run into each other again since we never exchanged contact. She has several horses, a wagon and contacts to others. I think she may be a good resource, especially for the Texas Red Western.
Contacted in the last two days:
FEBRUARY 22, 2019
Yesterday I contacted Ward Emling, retired film commissioner here in Mississippi, hoping that he’ll help me make some new connections.
This morning I contacted Andrew, last name won’t be mentioned, a potential investor.
I announced the Texas Red project publicly yesterday and was pleased that it seemed to get some attention.
A picture of Texas Red after he was killed.
The stakes feel high for Son of a Gun being a success since I know every dollar we make on it will effect funding for the Westerns.
FEBRUARY 24, 2019
Today I contacted Clay, another potential investor.
Ward got back to me and I’m meeting him Tuesday, hoping to get some fresh ideas for connections in Mississippi.
I’m 250 pages into the Texas Red book and hoping to finish tomorrow with notes to send Don.
Mario got back to me with notes on the revised outline for Deputy’s Wife. It looks like we’re on the same page which I’m thankful for. The next step is to put a pitch package together for investors.
Not related to the Westerns but the dvd issue with Son of a Gun is frustrating as hell. I feel like no matter how much I work my ass off, little errors cause huge mistakes that may set back the profitability of the movie. I’m told constantly to rely on others more but how can I when I get screwed most of the time that I do ?
FEBRUARY 25, 2019
This morning I sent my notes to Don in response to reading his Texas Red manuscript.
I also read Joe’s rodeo script. It’s not rodeo enough yet. We’ll see if he’s up for the changes in direction I suggested.
I contacted San Tan Brewery today suggesting a possible sponsorship for the Westerns.
FEBRUARY 26, 2019
Contacted Nicholas Barton today, a director of two Westerns who influenced my current self-distribution model in theaters.
I’m waiting to meet Ward now in the library bar. There’s 10k now sitting in the bank waiting to be help make a Western… that feels good.
I spoke with Chris Eigeman today. He thought I was crazy to direct all 12 Westerns. It was a good conversation.
Thanks for sharing. A very daunting undertaking but one that obviously is driven by a love for western cinemetography, the romanticism and raw ruggedness that is our historic American west.