Today we hear from Tanner Beard, writer and director of THE LEGEND OF HELL’S GATE: AN AMERICAN CONSPIRACY, how 'Hell's Gate' at Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas came to have it's name. Relive the story of how three outlaws expeditions and encounters through historical 1870s Texas were remembered for a lifetime. James McKinnon, an Irish thief roaming the American frontier in search of easy riches, finds himself on the lam with Will Edwards, a bounty hunter prepared to lie, cheat, and steal to replenish his lost fortunes. While attempting to escape the lawmen on their tails, McKinnon and Edwards encounter Kelly, a young man who has stolen the secret cache of a man who claims to be John Wilkes Booth. The three outlaws set out on an adventure to be remembered for generations.
Q: Tell a little about the story of your film and the production of it.
Man, we had so many moving parts where do you begin. Ha, first of all our cast and crew were amazing, but based on real events our story takes place in 1876 Texas mostly around Central and West Texas. We shot the film in and around the land, towns and cliffs where it actually took place which gave the production a very historic feel. Many of our actors played real characters of the West as you'll see when our central characters have their brushes with the infamous Doc Holliday (Jamie Thomas King), John St. Helens (Henry Thomas), the killing of the White Buffalo, encounters with Comanches and the elements of the untouched Texas terrain.
We follow three outlaws on the run, Will Edwards (Eric Balfour), Kid Called Kelly (Lou Taylor Pucci) and James McKinnon (Tanner Beard) each running from haunted past now with bounties on their head. A chase movie shot in Texas with a mostly Texas native cast: (Jenna Dewan, Summer Glau, Kevin Alejandro, Glenn Morshower, Henry Thomas) made the production fell like we were a bunch of neighborhood kids getting to play “Cowboys and Indians” in the backyard. As sometimes it was a difficult shoot with the terrain, our cast and crew made it an absolute joy to be a part of.
Q: Tell a little about yourself and your story in filmmaking.
Getting to play a character in front of the camera has always been such a joy to do, but also can be a rare opportunity especially if you didn't grow up near the business. Making a film on the other hand can happen any place, any time if you can pull enough people together to put on a show, no matter how big or small. So, starting at a very early age I was lucky enough that my parents had on old video camera to test out and we had a video store that had more than just the new releases in my home town. So grabbing some friends and writing some skits while watching great movies to learn a thing or two, it wasn't hard to fall in love with every aspect of film making from griping to acting to booming, it's all important.
Q: Your take on the performances of the lead actors, (set backs, triumphs, impressions, good surprises, etc.)
Our cast showed up to work and they worked hard, I thought everyone in our large ensemble cast did an amazing job. I definitely came to learn set backs will happen on a set, it's just part of it. I know one day we lost a lot of great deal of momentum from our cast when our river shoot got rained out. We lost time and money, actors lost scenes but as a film maker sometimes you can create your way out of problems and our cast was great about jumping into scenes with out much rehearsal time. Lou Pucci and Summer Glau had to endure more of the elements more so than most of the cast and their attitude and dedication to their characters were definitely good, but not a surprise they are pros.
Q: What do you do when not making a smash indie film?
Jumping in front of the camera is keeping me busy at the moment, I also have another project I'm writing and directing with Suzanne Weinert to produce, so other smash indies are keeping me busy, ha ha.
THE LEGEND OF HELL’S GATE: AN AMERICAN CONSPIRACY screens Tonight (Wednesday), May 4 at 7:30PM at the Triangle Square Theater 4.
To purchase tickets follow the below link:
Watch the trailer for the film here: