klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
[personal profile] klwilliams
I used to hang out at the Pocatello Public Library when I was a kid, because it was an entire building filled with books, and nice people who not only encouraged me to read these books, but also suggested books I might like to read. One day, when I was in the ninth grade (about age fourteen), I met Marty Welch, one of the nice people who had just started working there. Instead of working with all the books, Marty had his own room downstairs, a room filled with equipment of some sort.

That day, Marty introduced himself, and asked if I wanted to learn how to use all that equipment to make shows for television. Community Access Television, the deal cable providers had made that gives one channel for anybody to put anything they want to on TV. (Think "Wayne's World".) I immediately translated this into "make movies", because the year or so before I had read David Gerrold's "The Trouble With Troubles" book, where he talked about writing scripts. Ever since, I'd been itching to write a script and make a show for TV.

I quickly called up my best friend, Tracey Rhys (who went by Tracey Reese back then), who was interested, as well. Marty taught us, and not long after that Mrs. Covert, our teacher for our English class on Westerns, assigned the class to do projects. Tracey and I pitched doing a movie, and she said yes. Then we needed a script.

Mrs. Covert had taught us about common cliches in Western novels, including things like the ongoing battle of cattlemen vs. sheepmen over grazing (the sheep each the grass down too far for cows to eat, so they can't share), and the railroad taking over land by eminent domain. One of these cliches became an actor (Rajeev, who played the most characters in my films, and died the most times) playing a landowner railing at the railroad about to take over his land. Our plan had been to tape this next to railroad tracks or some other train-related thing (we lived in a major railroad town for the area), but for various reasons we didn't have a time where we could get the equipment, the actor, and the transportation together to tape this next to railroad tracks, so he's railing at nothing. But he railed well. The other cliche became a slightly drunk cattleman sitting in the saloon (another cliche!) petting his plastic cow and saying "I hate sheepmen." So you get the idea.

For a cast, that included a hero (cliche) and his sweetheart (cliche), a bad guy (cliche), a saloon with a dance hall (cliche, cliche) with dance hall girls (cliche), so Tracey and I began reaching out to various people to join in. The public library lent us their resource room to become the saloon/dance hall, and various kids in sections of the Western novels classes agreed to be in our movie. I was amazed by this, because I was dreadfully shy and didn't really know many people that well. Still, I'd had several smart people in the same advanced math classes with me for three years (Devlin Gill, our hero; Christine Mead, our heroine; Bobby Bushta, our bad guy; Rajeev, our cattleman who doubled as Pa; Marjanna Davidson, our lead dance hall girl, who became the lead after I said something like "You all need to dance. Figure out something." This is my usual leadership style to this day.), so Tracey and I asked them. It turned out that they had friends, too, and all the roles got filled. Tracey's little sister, Laurie, played "Boy". It was awesome.

But you can now see how awesome it is, on YouTube. The title is another cliche, but since we didn't have enough friends to field a cavalry, the cliche became the title. I like it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you "The Cavalry Comes Over the Hill."


Tracey says:

What I remember is that the instructor (Ms. Sexton?) handed out a list of cliches in Western novels, and we decided we would write a script that had every single one of them. Due to budgetary constraints, however, we couldn't show a range war between cattleman & sheepman, a standoff between the railroad barons and local landowners. Nor could we stage a white horse for our hero and a black horse for our villain. So, you get a drunken cattleman telling his tiny cow how much he hates sheepman, and angry landowner standing in a field ranting about the railroad, and a young boy explaining that the hero's white stallion done run off with the black one when the villain dragged the girl away. And we REALLY didn't have the money for a cavalry coming over the hill.... so that's what we named it.

and I add:

I remember the teacher being Mrs. Covert, because I didn't know what a covert was when I met her. Wasn't Mrs. Sexton the Spanish teacher? I do remember we had a teacher with that name.

and Tracey replied with the correct info:

Mrs. Asboe was the Spanish teacher. I think it was Miss Sexton and she got married and became Mrs. Covert. I say that because when I was typing it earlier, I was thinking it was Miss Sexton but then I was sure she was Mrs. something.

and I said:

You're right! Miss Sexton became Mrs. Covert. But wasn't Mrs. Asboe the Spanish teacher at Alameda? I thought the Spanish teacher at Highland was younger.

and Tracey came through with the right name again:

Yes, you're thinking of Mrs. Soderquist. I said Asboe because we made this art film at Alameda. You know, between the two of us, we have quite a full memory. lol.

and Marjanna says:

I don't think I knew how the thing came into being, so this is great. Love the backstory. I think you had us put together our own costumes. The music was baffling--no way did we have any saloon music or a piano player or even a piano. I think I recorded this on a cassette from a 78 record I purchased. And we just played that.

and I add:

The costumes and music were perfect. They gave a great example of the cliche (dance hall girls) while being appropriate for our current time and place. Thank you.

Date: 2016-08-19 09:45 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-08-20 02:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rustmon.livejournal.com

Date: 2016-08-20 04:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] helblonde.livejournal.com
My high school had a cable access studio. Students got to film a coupe of different shows. It was super cool.

Date: 2016-08-20 03:26 pm (UTC)
madrobins: It's a meatloaf.  Dressed up like a bunny.  (Default)
From: [personal profile] madrobins
I love that you had all these adults who aided, abetted, and encouraged this stuff.

Also I love the plastic cow.

Date: 2016-08-21 03:41 am (UTC)
madrobins: It's a meatloaf.  Dressed up like a bunny.  (Default)
From: [personal profile] madrobins
And the period music is magnificent!

Date: 2016-08-20 11:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] darcyjavanne.livejournal.com
A tour de force! What a lot of fun you must have had.


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