The following is part two in a two-part series about the premiere of “Tucker’s War,” held Jan. 5 at the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema at the Rustic Theatre in Idyllwild. “Tucker’s War,” a made for television series featured only six professionals in its making, the rest were untapped talent with most coming from the Official California Play “Ramona” which is performed outdoors each spring. You can read part one in the series in the Jan. 27 issue of the Anza Valley Outlook or online at www.anzavalleyoutlook.com.
Of Horses and Men- Head Wrangler Sue Foutz Ferguson
Another newcomer from the Ramona Pageant experience on the “Tucker’s War” set was Head Wrangler Sue Foutz Ferguson. She was not only in charge of taking care of all the horses, and the safety of horse and rider during the filming; she taught Wolfgang Bodison who played Rancher James Hamilton to ride for the first time. She did such a great job Bodison looked like he had been riding all his life, not just the weeks and months during shooting. Savage says that Susie’s love of horses, and her ability to keep them, the actors and crew free from harm, while managing to help him capture the spirit and history of the American west through the majestic on screen presence of these beautiful animals was inspiring.
The plot of “Tucker’s War” is placed in the 1920s and was filmed at real high country ranches. The Fleming Ranch out of May Valley (up above Mountain Center and Garner Valley) and Dick Cary’s Family Ranch out Coyote Canyon way (in Anza) were used for the filming locations since filmmakers could still find open sky and pristine scenery reminisce of the 1920s homesteads.
Tucker Hicks’ Ranch in “Tucker’s War” is a true historical site – The Cary Ranch Homestead
This was a very special situation to be able to use this site. Permission was granted and it really makes the film authentic to the time period. A few years ago, Dick Cary placed the Cary Ranch in the hands of an Archeological Conservancy out of New Mexico to preserve it for posterity so it can only be used for certain things. The ranch hosts many important historical artifacts; grinding sites, pictographs and a plaque commemorating it as a place where Juan Bautista de Anza exploration in the 1770s as a camp site during his exploration for a route bring settlers from Baja, Mexico (the Arizona side) to Alta, California. The route took them across the desert, into the mountains where they came upon a valley known then as the Cahuilla Plains (Modern-day Anza) across down out of Anza across a route that is now known as Bautista Road to the Hemet area then to San Gabriel Mission, to the coastal town of Monterey then finally to their end goal, San Francisco.
The plot of “Tucker’s War”
Silkotch’s character, Tucker Hicks returns from WWI and like most men returning from war finds himself in world that has changed, just as much as he has. Probation is in full swing a notion that has no effect on Hicks and others in the town which lead to some bootleg activities. Hicks is left trying to find his footing in this new postwar world. He is back home with his wife as Olivia Hicks played by Angela Daun living outside of town on his ranch when the old wild west, do it as you please, collides with the new more civilized 1920s world. Hick does what is right encouraging his stepbrother, played by Frank Jaramillo accused of stealing to give himself up. Unfortunately, the unscrupulous Deputy Otis Huckabee and sidekick have a hateful demise planned for the prisoner. This along with his bootlegging ways sets the stage for multiple plots to be followed throughout the series.
The end of the pilot is a true cliffhanger with Hicks is being chased by the law because he will not give up his stepbrother. When his friend James Hamilton comes along and sees Hicks in a bad way, he agrees to Hicks request to lay down fire so he can escape the posse. As Hicks backs out of the shooting situation, the returning Sheriff hears the gunfire and stops. Finding Hicks, they engage in a war of words each trying to convince the other to the strength of his convictions.
The audience’s reaction to the premiere
It’s seconds from the last scene and the crowd is on the edge of their seats. Gunshots are fired and the crowd screams, oohs, and aahs as the theater goes black…The audience is left wondering just what will happen next. At the end of the film, the applause is deafening as the crowd stands to its feet.
Savage calls up and introduces his star actors, cast and crew offering up his praises and thanks.
Savage told the crowd that several of the cowboys will be in his upcoming major film “Winds of Heaven” which should start filming this year and mentions how surprised he was that that some of his stars have enjoyed the experience so much, they have gone on to star in other independent films as well.
There is the sense that something very special just happened as family and friends go toward the stage to congratulate the “Tucker’s War” cast and crew. Pictures are taken and everything is abuzz with the afterglow of the showing. Later outside the theatre, the exuberance of the moment continues. All are amazed at the production and how well it pulled together despite the obstacles, all are proud and left wanting more after seeing the first episode of “Tucker’s War
“Tucker’s War” Facebook page, which can be found at www.faceboook.com/TuckersWar/, is the best way to keep up with the series and Summerhawk Film Institute’s progression. According to Savage there are plans for more episodes that are already written. The group is currently working on securing the funding, time and support. According to Facebook the plan is to show the series on Netflix, Amazon or another streaming service.