By April M. Brown
The iconic J.W. Eaves Movie Ranch, south of Santa Fe, is currently the stage for a small, yet ambitious western production titled Hyde Park. The film is being produced by Prestigious Films, headed by director Nicholas Barton, who also wrote the script.
The film is based on the true story of the little-known 1871 Hyde Park shootout in Newton, Kansas — an epic tale that has been lost to history until now. The bloody shootout was the result of escalating tensions between the Ohio Railroad Workers and the Texas Cattle Men, and is considered, by historians, to be one of the bloodiest gunfights in the history of the old west.
One Headlight Ink recently had the privilege of speaking with First Associate Director and Co-Producer of the film, Derin Dopps, to get the inside scoop on the story and the production.
Dopps shared, “This ended in the true story of a blood bath that was so gruesome that a New York newspaper said it took them three days to clean it up. That’s how gory and gruesome this bloodbath was.”
Barton and Dopps met on the set of the movie Wichita years ago, and formed a long-time friendship. Dopps describes Barton as the “glue that holds the film together,” having a passion for the old west genre and a clear vision of how the story will unfold on film.
Dopps shared, “He’s not a dictator. He collaborates. That’s pretty rare to find — somebody who has such an intense vision and is still be open to collaboration. I think that’s one of benefits of working with Nick Barton.”
The film was originally slated to shoot in Kansas, but Dopps said, “We decided, after looking at New Mexico, and some of the iconic movies that were shot here — the legendary scenery and landscapes here, the incentives, the help of the Film Office, and the talent that’s here — it made more sense to move our production to New Mexico.”
When asked about his experience in New Mexico, so far, Dopps said, “We’ve been very impressed with everything out here — the quality of people and the craftsmanship. We’ve found it to be a very inviting, very welcoming place.”
The cast includes an impressive list of notable and talented actors including Richard Riehle (Office Space), Luke Arnold (Black Sails), Viva Bianca (Sparticus), M.C. Gainey (Django Unchained), Quinn Lord (The Man in High Castle), and Aly Mang (John Wick 2).
The production is also hiring numerous local actors like Martin Palmer, who will be playing the role of “Tex,” a ranch hand fighting on the side of the Texas Cattlemen. Palmer is no stranger to western movie sets, having had roles recently in Homesman with Tommy Lee Jones, Longmire, and The Lone Ranger.
Palmer told One Headlight Ink, “I am so excited for the opportunity to work with such a talented cast. I recently got to watch a scene in the film with Luce Rains (3:10 to Yuma) and Christopher Hagen (One Million Ways to Die in the West), and it was truly an honor. They are the best of the best.”
Dopps also shared his admiration for the cast saying “The cast we’ve been able to get out here — then adding that with all of the local actors –has been really amazing. I think there’s a lot of people who really have their heart and soul in the film. They’re dedicated.”
Dopps gushed about the dedication and quality of the local background talent, as well. Because of the production’s small budget, Dopps shared that the background talent were uncompensated except for food and film credit. He says that weren’t sure what to expect, but they were pleasantly surprised.
“Our background actors have been unbelievable. These guys have bent over backwards to be a part of this. They’re passionate. They’re excited. And that really thrills us as film makers, because it makes our job easier.”
The bloody massacre at Hyde Park had some dramatic elements that, Dopps says, they plan to portray with realism. Part of the battle took place in a saloon, where the smoke from the black powder guns was so thick, men were shooting blindly at one another. In order to put the audience in the heart of the action, they have chosen a stylized approach that will provide a bird’s eye view of the action without the shaky, kinetic film-style used in other action films.
“Nothing like that has been done in a western before,” Dopps added, “where you have the realism of what the black powder would actually do in a confined place — how that smoke would make it hard to see and hard to hear — and there’s so much confusion in a gun fight.”
Dopps says they have several companies interested in helping them distribute the film, but they have yet to make a formal distribution deal. He said, “The film looks incredible. The acting is top notch. I feel like this is a real quality film, and we’re definitely wanting to get as wide a distribution as we can get.”
Hyde Park is filming exclusively at Eaves Movie Ranch through the middle of April, which, Dopps says has given them a real sense of responsibility to live up to the many iconic films that have been filmed at the Ranch.
“It’s a special project. It’s a lot of talented folks that have come together in a perfect storm,” Dopps said, “Hopefully, we’ll have some lightening in that storm that we can bottle.”