Friday, March 22, 2013

Jeff Hildebrandt Gave Me My Big Break

March 22, 2013
Got the word yesterday that my producer at the Westerns Channel has retired. Here's how he gave me my big break in the biz. Back in 2002 I attended a writer's workshop in Gunnison, Colorado where there were more teachers than students. I called Kathy and told her the trip (I drove there) was a total waste of time. They put us up in dorm rooms and mine smelled like dirty jockstraps.

On Saturday morning they had a field trip and I was asked to choose between a farm visit to see a calf being born or a school bus ride up the mountain to see the ghost town of Tin Cup. I almost left at this point, but at the last moment I chose the school bus ride up the mountain. I sat in the back and talked to Corrine Brown about Old West stuff and she asked me about the movie Tombstone and I told her a couple anecdotes about being on the set. About halfway up the mountain, the bus stopped on a slope and we were all asked to get off. I saw a woman setting up a tripod next to a crumbling log cabin and a guy with the woman asked me to come over and stand in front of the tripod, look into the camera and talk about Tombstone, like I had been doing on the bus.

About fifteen minutes later, he told me to stop and we got back on the bus and resumed our trip. Here are two photos of that brief encounter:

The guy's name is Jeff Hildebrandt and he was the head honcho at the Encore Westerns Channel, and not long after this I started getting phone calls from people saying, "Hey, I saw you on the Westerns Channel." Really? Not long after this my friend, and legendary screenwriter, Jeb Rosebrook (Junior Bonner), was in Denver and he pitched The Western Channel on a film project. Jeff declined but somehow made the leap to having Jeb get me to do what became True West Moments. From that time on, Jeb always refers to himself as my agent. Ha.

The first batch were actually filmed in late 2002 at my house and studio in Cave Creek. Jeff was the producer and director on almost all of the Moments. Over the years we did many shoots at different locations, including Wichita's Old Cowtown, Tombstone, Tucson, Prescott, Festival of the West, Pioneer Living History Museum; Lincoln, New Mexico and Durango, Colorado.

Here we are in Prescott, at the Fort Whipple Buffalo Soldiers House filming a couple segments on The Buffalo Soldiers. This is my view of the camera with the teleprompter over the camera lense. The crew, like all film crews, is hamming it up:

And here's Jeff and I at the Buffalo shoot:

Altogether I think we produced about 75 True West Moments and the best were culled for a DVD, "Bob Boze Bell's Favorite True West Moments."

I'm not sure the Western Channel will continue with the popular feature (I've heard scuttlebutt the suits think there are enough in the can to run for another decade or so). So It may be awhile before I say this on camera again:

"I'm Bob Boze Bell and this has been a True West Moment."