You’ve found the website for Cowboys & Engines, an epic western steampunk adventure starring Battlestar: Galactica’s Richard Hatch, Star Trek‘s Walter Koenig, and A Clockwork Orange star Malcolm McDowell.
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Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you.
We’ve had two amazing days of filming on Cowboys & Engines, and one day that will live in infamy for years to come. As has been said before, and better, filmmaking is an inherently chaotic process; a constant battle against forces that threaten to bring the whole enterprise crashing down in pieces around your head. I’ve always likened it to a snowball rolling downhill. Sometimes, that snowball gains unstoppable momentum and simply gets bigger and bigger, smashing all the obstacles in its path. Other times, you have to constantly pack the snow together as it rolls, keeping it from falling apart.
Often, you think you have one, and realize you have the other. C&E is the first snowball, but for a brief moment on Sunday, it was masquerading as the second.
We started shooting Friday. We got amazing footage with Richard Hatch, Libby Letlow, Walter Koenig, Kaila Freas and Stasya Knight. Each actor surpassed my expectations for them, out sets were gorgeous, and everything looks amazing.
Saturday was devoted to our scenes on the bridge of the Karlova, Dr. Clay’s dirigible, with the legendary Malcolm McDowell joining us to play Clay. Malcolm was charming, funny, a joy to work with, and I think we made a good impression on him as well. Kerri and Andy Appleton surpassed themselves with the Karlova bridge set, and again, my amazing cast – now including Chase McKenna, Tye Lombardi & Jenifer Ellis as well – blew everyone away. Libby, Kaila & Chase particularly each did a fantastic job of standing up to the challenge of acting opposite a star like McDowell.
Sunday was to be the start of our exteriors. It promised to be a hot, grueling day, but it was cut short when issues with the location and the base camp owner shut us down and left us without any options to shoot out that day. Given that everything was connected to the next day’s location as well, we simply pulled the plug and decided to re-group and attack with a new plan. I went home feeling like I’d been kicked in the gut, but four hours later, we had the beginnings of a plan. Now, two days later, it’s starting to solidify, and we’re all pretty well convinced that it’s going to work out to the benefit of the movie.
I was speaking to a friend on Monday who said, “Everything happens for a reason.” I replied, “Yeah. Usually my own incompetence.” However, sometimes I’m a genius at making exactly the right mistake at exactly the right time.
So shooting is on hiatus until the end of May when we will all re-group in the desert, and see if we do, indeed, have a snowball’s chance in hell.
— Bryn Pryor
Anything you say in print about making a film is always a massive understatement. When I say it’s been harder, more stressful, more harried, more time-consuming, more chaotic, than you can imagine, I mean that literally. Every day has been something new that threatened to sink the film. Every day we’ve figured out a way to stay on track, if not on schedule, and keep moving forward.
And now we’re here. The writing, the designs, the campaign, the fundraising, the meetings, the wheeling, the dealing, the plans, the building, the compromises, victories and defeats have all conjoined, and tomorrow, around 8:30 am, they will produce actual footage from a project that first entered my head in 2009. Aphorisms like “It’s been a long, hard road” don’t begin to describe it.
Is everything ready? No. As I write this, my amazing art department is putting the finishing touches on the sets we’ll be shooting tomorrow morning. Tomorrow night, after we wrap, I’ll be working on Saturday’s props. I’m just now finishing my shot lists and blocking notes. We’re all exhausted and excited and stressed.
But it’s always that way. Every film that isn’t some hundred-million-dollar epic with a crew of four hundred operates the same way. It just is. Today I was on the phone from 5am until 3pm answering a flood of questions, dealing with problems, etc.
Tomorrow, all the chaos will fall away, and all that matters is what we capture. When they talk about the magic of movies, they don’t mean how wonderful or spectacular they are, they mean it’s like a trick; you only see what we show you.
Tomorrow, we hope to show you the best face we’ve ever presented to an audience.
I have an amazing crew and an incredibly talented cast. I wish us all good fortune.
(reprinted from Bryn Pryor’s personal blog)