“High Noon”, “Stage Coach”, “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”, “Once Upon A Time In The West”. There have been many great westerns put on celluloid over the years. Indeed, westerns are a uniquely American art form.
Local director Arlette Thomas-Fletcher has added her own film to the canon of westerns (listen to my radio interview with Arlette here http://www.blogtalkradio.com/inside-acting/2014/05/09/the-director-and-cast-of-the-western-the-lonesome-trail), with locally shot western “The Lonesome Trail”, which was completed this past summer. Thomas-Fletcher stopped by to talk about her film…
Q – Arlette, what’s the concept of “The Lonesome Trail”?
ATF – It’s a western-drama much along the same lines as “Open Range”, in terms of the journey that one of the main characters takes throughout the course of the story. Kevin Costner’s character battled demons which he came to terms with in the end as does our character Jonah played by actor Colin McHugh in “The Lonesome Trail.” The only difference is that our western is a Christian story but, it is a western that any western loving audience doesn’t want to miss. It has action, romance, drama, and comedy.
Our story follows the journey of our characters much like “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” did. Each character has something to say and our story was developed to allow them to tell their individual stories and make you love or hate them depending on how you feel about what they have to say.
Our concept is quite different because we took a western theme and made an inspirational Christian western that follows the prodigal son story allowing you to see Jonah who portrays this character go through ups and downs which cause him at some point to leave his home and go out into the world to find his own way.
Q – Arlette , what role do you play in “The Lonesome Trail”?
ATF – I wrote, “The Lonesome Trail, I also produced and directed it. I really love westerns so it was so exciting to be able to write a story that could capture the prodigal son story and also show a western story at the same time.
The central characters names are Jonah who is played by Colin McHugh who is the prodigal son, Joshua who is played by James Poole, Preacher Brent Carson played by Peter Wray, Michael McCray played by Donald Imm, Martha McCray played by Karen Winfield, Larcey McCray played by Henry Hickerson, Elizabeth Turner played by Kelly Russell Schwartz, Bill Barnaby played by Lamont Easter, Alice Barnaby played by Antoinette Greene-Fisher, Catalina Parks as Angelica Gomez, Rigo Reyes as Francisco Gomez, Sister Francis Barnes played by Kendra North, Walker Hays as May, Johnny Alonso as Mr. Jones our store keeper.
(Read the full cast listing of the film at IMDB here.)
Q – I know there’s a lot of action, Arlette, but how much of the film is played for comedy or drama?
ATF – The film is a family production but it there is a lot of action in the film with the cowboys cutting up and doing what they do in the old west. It has some dramatic moments and there are funny moments as well. Sister Francis played by Kendra North and Carter Dodson played by Christopher Inlow add some comedic relief to the film. The audience will be able to enjoy and relate to the characters and connect to funny moments and also the sad moments that occur within the lives of the characters.
Q – Arlette, will the film make audiences cry or laugh more?
ATF – I think the audience will cry at times and laugh at times. They may even get angry with Mike McCray. They will pick sides as the story shows the hero and the bad guys colliding because of their different beliefs.
Q – When will we get to see a trailer? The pictures looked pretty exciting. How did you achieve that fine cinematic quality, Arlette?
ATF – We hope to have a trailer coming soon. Craig Herron of Herron Designs our Director of Photography, Visual Effects Supervisor, and Production Design Manager is working to get that completed and we will be posting it on YouTube and on our webpage at http://childadvocates37.wix.com/thelonesometrail and our Face book page at https://www.facebook.com/TheLonesomeTrail. To see more about our film people can go to our Face book page and see production stills from “The Lonesome Trail.” They can also see various other productions featuring our actors that our audience can look forward to seeing in future.
Q – You don’t see many woman doing western films, what made you decide to do one?
ATF – I started loving westerns as a little girl. It was something that my father did with me when I was very young. He loved westerns. I enjoyed the time I spent watching them with him. It’s funny because I was so young that you would think I would have forgotten.
But, these stories touched me in some way and I have enjoyed them even until this day. I love “Gun Smoke” with Marshall Dillon, Shane with Alan Ladd, “Tombstone” with Kurt Russell, “Unforgiven” with Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman, and “Open Range” with Kevin Costner. So many I really can’t name them all. But, I wanted to do a family western that was also Christian that would tell a moving story and touch people’s hearts. We need that today. Something inspiring to get us thinking about forgiveness and love and compassion.
Q-What can people do to help you with this indie production, Arlette?
ATF – We will be running fundraisers over the next couple of months to work on post-production and marketing of our film. We will be doing an indiegogo campaign soon. Just check our Face book page for our latest activities at this link https://www.facebook.com/TheLonesomeTrail. People that are interested can participate in our raffle that is going on now which ends November 7, 2014. They will have a choice between winning one of two prizes. Check out this link for more information https://www.eventbrite.com/e/win-a-coaching-session-with-betsy-royall-or-a-bushel-of-maryland-crabs-tickets-13899274103
Q – The CGI on your Face book page looks incredible who is your special effects person, Arlette, where was it filmed?
ATF – Herron Designs did all of our visual effects. Craig Herron who recently won an award from the Reel Independent Film Extravaganza. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Herron-Designs/1376522905949763. He is the one who designed the western set and created the Computer Generated Image of our town that you see on Face book. Craig and I talked about the film during pre-production and since he had created the town for a previous film called “Day of The Gun” we went in with the idea of changing the look of the town. I told him I wanted the town to be larger and also very bright.
Our story was quite different from this epic western that had been done previously. The film was shot on The Shipley Movie Ranch in Jessup, Maryland. We were blessed to use a western set from the film “Day of the Gun” that we transformed by painting and adding our own little touches for “The Lonesome Trail.”
Q – The horses are so beautiful from the pictures we see on “The Lonesome Trail” Facebook page. Arlette, where did you get the horses from?
ATF – We used horses from Cowboy Barry who is an expert horseman and showman from Stone Eagle Stables https://www.facebook.com/cowboybarry58?fref=ts. We also used horses from the Shipley Movie Ranch from One Eyed Horse Productions www.one-eyedhorse.com/. We used wagons and Draft horses from Ward’s farm in Pennsylvania. Rigo Reyes who is an expert horseman and stunt person brought four horses that were trained for stunt riding.
Q – Who did the stunts for the film, Arlette?
ATF – As you know doing stunts in films can be very dangerous, so we needed a stunt person that was an expert with weapons and horses. And Rigo Reyes was the man for this as he came well recommended by other film makers that had used his services. He and his sons Ricardo Reyes, Arian Reyes did the stunts with the horses and the guns on our set. He took time to show our actors Lamont Easter, Vaughn Bullard, Caleb McDaniel, Henry Hickerson, Christopher Inlow and Colin McHugh, safe ways to use weapons and ride on the horses. Rigo did stunts on horses for the character Johnny. Ricardo Reyes was a part of a very dangerous dragging scene and did stunts on horses for our character Cody.
Arian Reyes was used to do stunts for the character of Carter Dodson. Rick Ramos did stunts with the horses for the character of Larcey who is the son of our antagonist Mike McCray.
Q – I see that a lot of western films have a one liner that everyone seems to pick up on after the film, what would be a quote from “The Lonesome Trail”. Arlette?
ATF – Our quote would probably be “Tell him I’m an outlander. He’ll understand.” But to understand it you would have to see the film. It’s something that brings the whole story together in the end. It is that moment that you know what side you are on and why. You will know what character you love and which ones you hate.
Q – When can we see the film?
ATF – We hope that the film will be premiered by October 2015. Our film has a lot of Computer Generated Images (CGI) and we want it to be believable and enjoyable to the viewers so we are working really hard to bring a high quality production piece to our audience.
Q – Every film has a hero, who is the hero in “The Lonesome Trail” and who will we hate when the story ends?, Arlette?
ATF – Our protagonist in the story is Preacher Brent Carson played by Peter Wray. Our antagonist is Mike McCray played by Donald Imm. Both these characters collide in the story and have moments where they have to make crucial decisions which drive our story forward. Our hero in the story would be our preacher who brings the word of God to a town full of people that are just enjoying life. Sister Francis Barnes played by Kendra North who is determined to make the people of Red Springs repent and turn from their wicked ways.
Throughout the story the audience will come to love Elizabeth Turner played by Kelly Russell Schwartz who is the town schoolmarm. She grew up in the town and is known by all the people of Red Springs as an educated woman. Elizabeth is a friendly and caring person that always lends a helping hands to those in need. They will also come to love Bill Barnaby played by Lamont Easter who by accident becomes very close friends with preacher Carson. The one that the audience will come to hate is Mike McCray because he is a character that brings a lot of pain to the town. He is a very forceful person who feels he has the right to everything because of who he is.
Q – The film’s tagline is “Sometimes forgiveness comes with a price”. What is the price for forgiveness in this story, Arlette?
ATF – The price is paid by Bill Barnaby played by actor Lamont Easter, an African American man who makes the decision to stay in the small town of Red Springs Montana in the 1890’s and trust a Caucasian preacher with his life. But, most of all Preacher Brent Carson portrayed by actor Peter Wray shows how deep one has to reach to forgive a man like Mike McCray for using his power against the innocent people that come to Red Springs to settle.