Home on the Range …

22 Jan

Where to go next … ?? There is no end of possibilities.  So many great Westerns … so little time.

I’ve received two suggestions: Eastwood’s Academy Award winning Unforgiven – Academy Awards Best Picture in 1992. (Wow, was it really that long ago?)

And Open Range (2003) a worthy duster (also shot in Alberta) with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall.

Unforgiven 1992

Open Range wallpaper

Open Range (2003)

Unforgiven

I worked as a set painter on Unforgiven which was shot near Longview, Alberta – the small Western town set was built on some (well guarded and secluded) private property. I wish I could tell you that it was a glorious experience where I smoozed with Movie Stars, Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, and Richard Harris. But it wasn’t.The set was tight and strict – high security. I never saw any of the Stars at all, but there was strict rules not to approach or talk to them unless invited.
My work has hot, dirty and tough. And even dangerous. I recall being up 3 storeys on a rickety scaffold – painting the back a building – by myself – that never even appeared in the film.
I made 8 dollars an hour – working alongside carpenters who were making 100 dollars an hour – or more.
Aw yes … the romance of film. Eastwood had a couple of henchmen whose only job seemed to be to go around kicking ass and hustling chicks on the set … who all mysteriously got better jobs. It’s not what you know …
We worked hard long days – bused in at 5 in the morning and often leaving sometimes late in the evening.
As I said, I never saw any of the Stars. There were several Locations in the area and I always seemed to working somewhere else.
Later, I got a temporary job with an outfit called F&D (Fast & Dirty) Scene Changes building the train station that was used in the movie – in a large hanger in Calgary. The station was then dismantled and shipped down to Senora California (that’s where the train was) and reassembled for some scenes that really take very little time in the movie. Clint has a blank cheque in Hollywood – his movies make money.
I hope I don’t sound too jaded – it was a worthy experience.
I’m sure I can come up with a few dozen  more anecdotes surrounding my experience with Unforgiven … and I will.

Westward Ho !!!

 

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