INTERVIEW BY ROBERT HATTING
If you were to poll the people I know and all the ‘friends’ on face book, they would tell you I’m a novelist. That’s true. BUT, I’ve also spent a few years writing screenplays for the Movie and Television industries.
My experience over the past couple of decades of dealing with the ‘Hollywood’ folks has been negative. Mostly because of the ‘sleeze’ factor; the GET SHORTY mentality that seems to prevail. The next feature of this blog focuses on the exception; the cream of the crop… A sterling individual in the film industry? Yes, folks and his name is ED WHEELER.
My guest today is Ed Wheeler; Photographer -- extraordinaire, Cinematographer, director, and writer.
EDWARD WHEELER - Creator, Director, Producer
Being a professional martial arts instructor and acting since high school, Edward became a stuntman performing in live shows and television around the country, eventually writing, producing and directing his own shows. With this experience he became a stunt coordinator, working behind the camera with many directors to learn his craft. Edward has worked on 20 films, 16 television shows and over 70 stage productions. His projects include Court TV's, Haunting Mysteries, soap operas One Life To Live and Guiding Light, and the Fox Series New Amsterdam. More recent directing credits include Good Will Industries documentary Breaking The Cycle, pilot episode for The History Channel's Woman Warriors and the television pilot for The Territory. Edward is now a Media Production Director in New York City and a staff photographer.
I met ED while he was directing a trailer for a pilot Television series entitled the TERRITORY. At the time, he was doing a lot of the filming in Tucson’s Old Trail Dust Town. I was on my book tour with PARTNERS and periodic fixture at that establishment; set up outside Pinnacle Peak’s -- selling and signing my novel PARTNERS. (Some of the scenes caught my eye)
BTW, Ed is the photographer who allowed me to use his exquisite B&W photo for the cover of my novel, HART RULES.
Q.. Ed, let’s talk about THE TERRITORY. I noted that when I posted the old poster on my blog a few weeks ago, I received a lot of action. Since it didn’t get off the ground during the 2006 depression, do you think it’s time to revisit the project?
A..In many ways the timing is more right now than back in ‘06. We had a very real, gritty idea for how it should be shot that is more in style now than 7 years ago. The main creative team of Alberto Bonilla, Jerry Woods and myself have put a lot of experience under our belts since then. Also the technology is much more accessible.
The nice thing about doing a period piece is they come back into fashion over and over, particularly westerns. I’d like to believe this story transcends the genre, but maybe that’s just me.
So the answer is yes, we’d love to revisit this project.
Q . . In the promo piece you sent me, the following excerpt caught my attention. Is this still a valid assessment?
The Territory delivers drama, action and rousing romance in the style of Dances With Wolves, Last of the Mohicans and Legends of the Fall.
A..Did I write that? Those are big, big budget films, so of course ours would be scaled back, but the world we would want to deliver is similar. Those stories took place in a world you could buy into, believable. I consider ‘Last of the Mohicans’ Mann’s best work and I’d be honored if we could capture even a little of Edward Zwick’s vision in our project. There’s no flying through the air fight scenes and impossible stunts. The characters in those films were involved in an amazing adventure, not an impossible one. It’s very important to our team to “keep it real” and magical at the same time.
Q..Let’s leave the TV format for a moment. In the above examples, those are all full length movies. Dances with Wolves was way over the two hour norm. What is your opinion on that venue for your story?
A..Well, I believe the line between venues is increasingly blurred. TV is shot like film and vice versa.
Back in 2009 I was approached by a financial backer who was interested in the project, but as a feature, not a series. So I worked up a treatment that I felt worked great. In many ways it’s easier to get in and get out with a feature. Obviously the funding I mentioned fell through, of events that should have been made into a film of its own. I had to fly back and forth from New York to Tucson, the backer was crooked, police got involved, I had to testify to the TPD…it was very exciting. The good part is I developed a solid feature treatment for the story.
Q..Let’s assume you move forward in resurrecting the project. What is your next step?
A..Securing funds, finding the talent and finalizing the script. Some of the members of our team have moved on. Our good friend Bob Morgan, producer and horse wrangler, has passed away and is sorely missed. The rest of us are ready to carry on. I’m a big fan of getting the dialogue up on its feet and work shopped with actors, historians for accuracy and great story tellers, like yourself, Robert, that can work the script over, make it as clean and powerful as possible. Story, story, story. That has to be right and we’d love your input!
Budget of course affects all of this, but that’s the great thing about shooting this story in Southern Arizona; we can make a budget go much farther than most would expect. We shot the pilot for only $3,500.
Of all the projects I’ve worked on over the years, completed and not, I believe in this production the most. Everything is just waiting for us to “pull the trigger”. We’ve developed original characters in an exciting story, in one of the most starkly beautiful places on the planet. We’re ready.
THANK YOU EDWARD WHEELER!!!
This blog post will remain in place for several days while I promote the two novels contained in TUCSON TERRITORY. Both are period westerns set in and around Tucson, Arizona. BOOMER was written first and then HALF BREED. I’ve packaged both novels in the volume, TUCSON TERROTORY.