December 8, 2004
Another long one. Taped 11 bumpers for the Westerns Channel today out at Pioneer Living History Museum. Couldn't have been a more perfect day weather wise. Ground was still wet though and we couldn't find a dry cow chip, but that's another story.
I read an inspiring piece on how Will Rogers did his movies (for most of his adult life, until he died in 1935, he was a top box office draw), and he never memorized scripts. He'd ask his director, like John Ford, what a scene was about, then go off and think about it, then come back and say whatever came into his mind.
So I went out to Pioneer with seven scripts and no teleprompter. Kind of scary. But after the first one (I memorized the first line: "One of the never ending chores in the Old West was collecting firewood.") and then I just leapt out into the darkness, without a net, and I tripped a couple of times, but by the end of the day I was doing new ideas ("What’s the meaning of 'I'm your huckleberry?'") in one take! Hey, I brought seven scripts and we did 11 bits.
For another bumper, I was talking to one of the cowboys out there named Duncan and in the course of chatting he mentioned that he had a stagecoach. I asked him if it was down here (he lives in Red Lodge, Montana), and he told me it was "over yonder," pointing with his chin in that unique cowboy way.
The next thing you know, I'm on the box with him and we're tearing down the back roads taping a segment on Bob Paul's incredible stage ride in March of 1881 where he actually surfed on the wagon tongue of a Tombstone stage. I realized as we bowled along, that I had never ridden on the box, ever. It was thrilling and a tad scary. The damn thing is way up off the ground and the horses (we only had two in harness, normally there are six) are chafing and kicking, and lurching, yes, lurching. The stage is creaking, slamming down the roadway. Anyway, at one point I looked at the saguaro clad hills and thought to myself, "Well, this beats working for a living." It was just thrilling and too cool for school.
Finished filming at 5:30, as the last light drained off into the Bradshaws, came home and went for a walk with the dogs. Cleaned the kitchen, came out to the studio. Paul Hutton is flying in tonight. In fact he's landing even as I type this (7:09 P.M.), he'll be renting a car and driving out. We're going to look at the DVD of the stuff we shot in Tombstone and make a plan for tomorrow.
"Somewhere, there is something incredible waiting to be known."
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