A Steampunk Western


It’s a Wrap!

576612_10201269986861091_760341896_nAs the sun was setting over the ridge of the hills behind us, we rolled the last shot on Cowboys & Engines. It was a close-up of Libby Letlow as Guinivere Turner, ducking down behind a rock as yours’ truly assaulted her with fake bullet hits from a paintball gun.

And then the direct sunlight was gone. The shadows in the valley of our dry riverbed location began to lengthen, and our day was done. To say I’m thrilled with what we were able to capture is an understatement; I’m positively ecstatic, and I think this film is going to be something truly special.

It’s impossible to properly thank everyone involved in a project like this. Like most films, Cowboys & Engines was a huge team effort, and I’m honored and gratified that everyone gave their all and then some to make this little movie seem so much bigger than it is.

I could fill the next thousand words with specific examples of people who went above and beyond for our Steampunk Western; Our astonishing and talented cast; our amazing DP and camera department; our incredibly helpful and supportive producers and execs who have kept us on the rails and rescued the show a half-dozen times; our slavishly-dedicated art department who literally lost blood, sweat, tears and sleep to make this movie happen; wardobe, makeup, props, even catering. Everyone, all down the line, has been magnificent.

As a better way to say thank you to everyone, here are the credits for the film as they currently stand (most of the post credits, the special thanks, the copyright, etc., are all still missing).

Michael Hemmerich & Melissa Kimbro present

An 1876 Production

An Unpunished Film

Richard Hatch
Libby Letlow
Walter Koenig
Kaila Katesh Freas
and Malcolm McDowell


Produced by
James Deen
Kevin Alexander Heard
Charles Mead
Paul Pilcher

Executive Producers
Michael Hemmerich
Melissa Kimbro

Written & Directed by
Bryn Pryor

Director of Photography 
Hollywood Heard

Production Designer
Kerri Appleton

Visual Effects Supervisor
Ryan Carter

Original Score
Vitaliy Zavadskyy

Assistant Director 
Jenifer Ellis

Additional Assistant Directors 
Neil Arnote
Nicholas Hiles

2nd Assistant Directors
Laura Hoyt
Heather Keheyas

Art Director 
Andy Appleton

Prop Mistress 
Lori Graff

Costume Designer
Tye Lombardi

Wardrobe Assistant 
Elizabeth Magalla

Key Makeup Artist 
Christi Belden

Assistant Makeup Artist
Kasey Goveia

Special Effects Makeup 
Katelyn Galloway

(In Order of Appearance) 

Cade Ballard — Richard Hatch
Guinivere Wheeler — Libby Letlow
Myrmidon — Mark Whitten
Symphony Furst — Stasya Knight
Professor Timéon — Walter Koenig
Mercy Timéon — Kaila Katesh
Spyglass — Jenifer Ellis
Dr. Clay — Malcolm McDowell
Salomé — Chase McKenna
Gunner — Jim Fulton
Starboard — Tye Lombardi
Iron Mike — Derrick Pierce

Mr. Hatch’s Stunt Double 
Bryn Pryor

Ms. Letlow’s Stunt Double 
Lily Cade

Associate Producers 
Brett Bozeman
Ken Brodzinski
Jake Fullilove
Lance Stewart
Julia Tasker

Bryn Pryor

Camera Assistants 
Jonathan Shrader
Benjamin Steeples

2nd Assistant Camera 
Lenny Lennox

Jib Operator 
Dana Anderson

Kelly Herrin

Key Grip 
Igor Kamoevi

Swing Gang 
Steve Creatol
Christian Rice
Monte Zwirn

Production Sound 
Lee Ascher
John Barzelay
Neal Doxsee
Chris Howland
Charles Mead

Jim Van Cooney

Set Construction 
Mario Colli
Sasha Collins
Franco Diaz
Heidi Leigh
Charles Mead
Arvind Ramand
Shaun Rivera
Clayton Tripp
Jim Van Cooney

Horse Wrangler 
Lily Cade

Visual Effects by Hall of Shadows

CG Artists
Ryan Carter
Gabe Koerner

Pre-Viz Artists 
Mark Gibbons
Jennifer Otenti
Satine Phoenix

Stills & EPK
Benjamin Hoffman

Additional Stills
Paul Sarkis

Production Assistants 
Tina Milluzzi
Jud Zumwalt

Marc Kramer

Location Support 
Jerry Giri
BCT Rentals

Catering & Craft Services 
Charles Avritt
Grace Craft Services

Additional Catering 
Future Definition

Location Representatives 
Jason Benesh
Jim Fulton
John Sanna

Filmed at 
Dirt Cheap Soundstage
Epic Valley Studios
Santa Clarita Movie Ranch

And on Location in the Angeles National Forest

Camera & Lenses provided by Birns & Sawyer

Last Chance Saloon

Following a chaotic production collapse like the one that ended our previous run on Cowboys & Engines, you gain a lot of clarity… well, I do, at any rate. As we’ve all been busting our asses to put the shoot back together, I realized — or maybe, remembered — how important this project is to me. I can’t wait to start editing it. I can’t wait for it to be finished. The first time the public at large will see any portion of the film is when the trailer screens at ComicCon, and last night, I dreamed about that happening.

In my dream, they loved it. And so did I. That’s a very good sign. If my subconscious has no doubts about the project, it makes it easier for me.

The problem is that the re-tool has given me time to start feeling the weight of this thing I’m carrying on my back. It matters to me, in a way nothing has in years, and that stresses me out. Normally, I can shoulder pretty much any burden you care to heap on me, and slog forward apace. In the case of C&E, it’s a heavy, fragile package I have to deliver intact, and in mint condition, and that unique situation is changing the way I carry it.

Unfortunately, I can’t allow that to happen. Directing a film is like playing blackjack; you can’t do it carefully. You can’t win if you’re afraid of losing. You have to play the game joyfully, and with a sense of daring and abandon. Playing it safe in blackjack means you lose, and playing it safe in filmmaking nets you a stale end product.

So (to mix my gambling metaphors) I’m going to spend the next three days forgetting what’s on the line, enjoy the hell out of working with Richard, Libby, Walter, Kaila & Mark, revel in my excellent crew, double down and let it ride. And I’m going to make every effort not to count my winnings until July, when people get their first taste and tell me if we won.

— Bryn Pryor

Epic Success, Epic Fail…

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.

_MG_3369We 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

  • photo from Tumblr

    A small gallery of shots from the finished film. Coming soon!

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