Thundering Plains & Badland Vistas: The Filming Possibilities Of Black Hills, South Dakota – Feature
The key to filming locations is diversity within a structure of sound sense. The implementation of South Dakota in terms of cinematic persuasion allows for some different thoughts. While many intonations speak toward the Old West, the doubling can range as far as Ireland and Denmark. While the most famous variation of filming in the state remains Kevin Costner’s Oscar-winning “Dances With Wolves” (which was shot extensively in the Black Hills area), different applications need to allow for different outlays of creativity. As always however, the aspect of convenience versus price distinctly plays a role.
Ranches offers the most distinctive implementation of the area, each creating a different variance on what is possible.
Amiotte Ranch, on the edge of the Badlands, encompasses a swath of dark elements marked by somewhat otherworldly and stimulating crevices. The sight of bison edging on the top of the hills in a massively mind-blowing tundra gives presence of mind while male wild turkeys ruffle their feathers at each other attempting to impress the nearby females. Dogs avail on the property as a lone marker for gravestones towers underneath dark clouds along desperately descending ridges.
Clint Amiotte, the bearer of the land himself, revels in stories, a true cowboy of the cloth. Bull steers stare icily as a tale of coyotes tracking down smaller animals give credence to the Darwinian vision of the place highlighted by endless horizons and looming thunderstorm clouds.
By rigid counterbalance on the other side of the mountains near Deadwood in Spearfish, Frawley Ranches moves more within the structure of time lost instead of instances of long flowing ranges. From the inference of a restored school house along the desolate infinity of a distant mountain road to a Danish inspired barn that might be born out of Lars Von Trier’s “Dancer In The Dark” to a partially submerged bunker that could play anything from a Hobbit’s home to the hideout of a French soldier during World War 1, different ideas flash to mind in consecutive order which identifies to the morphology of the landscape.
Hank Frawley, whose great grandfather took over the massive arena of the land (which is broken down into 160 acre lots) took to restoring alot of the material which had been preserved in the amount of artifacts his family retained over the years. Aided with the passing of the Deadwood Gaming establishment which funds historical restoration in the State, many of the land which is still used for cattle has been historically recognized. An example in essence is an old barn/horse and cattle stockade whose interior becomes both a world closer yet removed from its outside persistence allowing it to double for horse elements from around the world. Add in perpetuity, an intricate upstairs hay catacomb system which revels in the best visual style of “The Village” mixed with Stanley Kubrick. Many ideas evolve in this structure with different abilities of TV series within a small radius swirling and possible to come to bear.
One of the most known visual specifics in South Dakota that could easily be implemented in many pictures and was most intrinsically captured in the Wounded Knee battle in “Hidalgo” starring Viggo Mortensen is the Wild Horse Sanctuary outside Hot Springs. With intrinsic filming spots located above on two ridges, the breathe of view gives sweeping interpretations of valleys say in the Lower Plain States but without the interference of modern elements. Original housing structures including cabins and water locations traversing the Cheyenne River on the property truly giving a sense of scope to the proceedings which is aided by the ability of the property’s managers to understand what a production needs especially in terms of the behavior of the wild horses.
Above the ridges on the Upper Plain areas of the Sanctuary, the snow capped hills rise into the sky as a herd of wild mares gallop across the plains encouraged in no small part by able wranglers. Rolling over with abandon, these horses display magnificence in their sheer being. Production value in these situations is of the essence and the balance of both creative and cinematic possibilities rings soundly within this location.
Another one of the key components of South Dakota’s possibility is the easy driving element between key locations. While tourism is an essential part of the progression with both Mount Rushmore and the still “under-construction” Crazy Horse Memorial, the base cities of Rapid City and Hot Springs command interesting perspectives of their own.
The port city for most air travel in this part of South Dakota is funneled through Rapid City which requires one stopover from most major domestic gateways. While this does provide a little less incentive, the balance becomes between production value and budget constraints but also the length of the dollars within these certain locations.
The vision of Rapid plays a balance between blue collar industry and a laid back town. Wandering the streets between the back alley billiard parlors and brick ensconced watering holes like Dublin Square and Murphy’s, the aura winds between darkness and light. The receding street melts into the horizon while mills and abandoned seed filtrators pocket the landscape of downtown as a hidden alley replete with art around the corner from the hotel where Alfred Hitchcock stayed as he scouted “North By Northwest” stands tall and unfettered.
Hot Springs, by comparison, contemplates more rustic. In the early summer months, the difference of small elevation plays to the possibility of snow completely changing aspects of dynamic in undeniable and pleasant ways. From the steam rising off the constant 87-degree crick flowing past a lone gazebo wisping in the snow to an intense sanitarium framed by the drifting white and blooming cranapple flowers, the stillness ponders with a precise eye.
The briskness of different perceptions takes the ideas and visions through every single different aspect of forest and raging creek beds. The snow intonations play in the gentle dripping of the morning whether it be in the comfortable old school hotel of Custer State Park Lodge or the late night permutations of Deadwood.
Always a perception of life, food though offers a distinctive presence within any location offered and gives a glimpse through which the local identity can be placed.
Rapid City, framed by the central Radisson Hotel, allows easy walking access to a variety of different possibilities, many of which have been highlighted by the likes of Rachel Ray and the James Beard Foundation.
Firehouse Brewery, structured with the ideas of the local rescue squad, boasts the only local beer in its own namesake. Overlooks intensify as a Smoke Jumper Stout boasts creamy while the aptly named “Spontaneous Heating” created in the viscosity of a South Dakota version of gumbo with shrimp, sausage and rice fires the range nicely.
Tally’s, likewise for lunch, uses the patterned wraparound diner motif to highlight comfort food in essential rhythm as the apt “Fist Full Of Fish” moving in the whiting direction highlights crispy as a local man outside sings to a statue of Ronald Reagan with aplomb.
Chilling in the afternoon working with a Big Dog beer of Amber Bock might sound like a daunting task but the ability with Wi-Fi at Thirsty’s (across the street from the Radisson) accelerated by the waitress-approved Gorgonzola Burger revels chill as the dish popped with the sweetness of the cheese and delicious and freshly cut steak fries.
Of course, journeying around the state even within a certified radius creates the need for specific culinary ideas, especially in a mostly non-franchised land
On the cusp of Badlands National Park at Cedar Pass Lodge, a deer watches hungrily from a hill overlooking the inside dinner table as buffalo chili and a buffalo burger topped in cheddar waxes the afternoon fantastic culminating with a ice cream enhanced root beer float and homemade chocolate and peanut butter cookies with chips melting on contact..
Lintz Brothers Pizza, minutes away from the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Hermosa, by comparison, has the local vibe set with a wraparound vision on a road extending soon to Denver as a major thoroughfare. This tucked-away gem boasts an inventive and intense “Flaming German Samoan” pie that integrates nacho cheese, sauerkraut, jalapenos and ham with requisite Hank’s Hot Sauce to make a midday journey all the more interesting.
In terms of progressive dinners, the State Game Lodge at Custer enhanced the start with a flambayed blue cheese brulee served with hearty salami and followed by a thick and filling buffalo strogonoff that filled the stomach in richly vivid tones.
Drawing to the conclusion, Deadwood paints its simmering streets with gambling parlors of lore giving the impression of its past indulgences. Up the hill sits Kevin Costner’s abandoned Tatanka Casino project which never quite made its intent realized while his operational and still flourishing Midnight Star Casino on Main Street flitters with action including a bar right out of “Wyatt Earp”.
The Deadwood Social Club, atop Saloon #10, just steps away, relocated from down the street where Wild Bill Hickok was killed in a gunslinging incident back in the 1800s, offers a grand dinner experience. A shrimp and sausage invention mixing Old West tang gets the buds running followed by a tangy steak fajita soup culiminating in a pheasant alfredo over fettucini. After dinner brings the cheesecake, worth the trip alone, with flavors ranging from Cookie Dough to White Russian.
South Dakota, in the 100 mile radius from Rapid City, offers a distinct diversity of filming and culinary possibilities relegated within genre but open to the eyes of creative people. While home in varied aspects to recent productions like “Hidalgo” and “Into The Wild”, the legend of “Dances With Wolves” and “Wyatt Earp” prevails balancing its idea of beauty with the vastness of this untouched land.
With productions on the horizon that might seem to fit the state like the in-development “Lone Ranger” and “Gunsmoke”, the locations have inherent possibilities. The lingering question remains ease of use and budget considerations. Close yet far away in others, the ideas and intent are there simmering in the burning sunset. It is just a matter of time.
The essence of the Newport Beach Film Festival ranges within its geography which comes together. Established within the Fashion Island complex right on the coast, the highlight of the operation becomes perception. While the upshot becomes a highly attended, locally supported product, there is a lack of connectibility in terms of the filmmakers. However there is a touted independent spirit which when combined with the interactive nature of the foreign film spotlights comes off as wonderfully programmed. The lack of celebrity infusion creates a more local experience but the energy, while elusive, still points to success.
Shorts Love seems to be an inherent background for the essence of the programming with different ideals being explored. In the subsection of “Another Love Story”, “Split Hands”, despite a scitzophrenic narrative fares the best dramatically while “Picture Day” and “Jimmy’s Cafe” with their elements of disconnection within mundane progression come off a little too stilted. The subsection of “Complicated Love” fares a little better because of the more eccentric nature of the subject matter. “The Tab” has highlights in its mockumentary style of comedy but stumbles at the end while “Rope” maintains its wistfulness due to the utter committment of the lead actress. She makes the connection to the bonding mechanism real. “Kate Wakes”, bouyed by a understated performance from Adam Goldberg, tries to be sweet but comes off slightly frayed. “Worst Date Ever” by comparison just seems to want to ingratiate the reaction factor. The next subsection entitled “Love Is Strange” ends the factor with the best witnessed short in the form of the simple and effective “My Four Inch Precious” from Florida State’s film school while “Tea & Remembrance” shows glimpses of greatness but a lack of throughline.
Monster From The Id The quite effective documentary seems almost out of place on the festival scene since its breakdown of philosophy, psychology and hopefulness would be quite effective on History or A&E. That said it balances the essence of what 50s sci-fi movies intrinisically created in the public consciousness and how that alternately provoked an essence of history. There is a “what if” mentality that reaches and speaks into the 21st Century and is perfectly timely. The doc talks of movies seeing scientists formerly as heroes and its integration with the way the youth viewed the world which is now replaced by movie stars. The perception is quite adept despite the lack of intrinsic detail but it becomes more broad in the later breakdown. Still the theory and its presentation of the future of space travel is generally hopeful.
Suspect X – Japanese Spotlight This battle of the minds integrating the mind chess in the cover up of a murder lacks overall logic despite its basis on that fact. However because of the duel-like tat between the two leads, the tension is kept maintained but reflects more like an Asian version of “Law & Order”. Its strength is within its details as specific wordplay and placement of clues works well but not overwhelmingly slow. At the end, there is not revelation and the heartbreak tends to shortchanged the narrative despite some flourished acting. The after party at Kimera shined with a shadowy reflection that while inherently Asian hined at fusion. Crab stuff sushi rolls balanced the Karl Strauss Amber Ale as the wraparound bar slithered the snakelike U formation which kept privacy but lacked a flow.
Seraphine – French Spotlight The essence of what defines “artist” takes on a paradox in this film. With a fine standout role in the lead role by Yolande Moreau, the essence of stripped down performance becomes almost lethal. Within the visage of this cleaning lady/painter on the cusp of war, the narrative lacks sentimentality instead opting for a practical if not lucid basis on which to show this woman dealing with life. Her mindset floats between basic motor elements and a deeper understanding of truth. As the narrative explores more depth than would be expected, the essence of misperceived greatness and loss is revealed in subtle key changes that make you feel for this woman. The afterparty at French 75 Bistro had a definite Moulin Rouge style to it with the bar area buzzing with interaction despite a lack of roaming french tastes.
Il Divo – Italian Spotlight This ode to “Scarface” in a reverse fashion has a “Godfather” essence in terms of its use of lingering basis. Made from the inards of Italian cinema, this film represents both an edgy manifestation of the wielding of power, evidenced in a nuanced if almost alien-like performance from Toni Servillo as Giulio Andreotti, along with a classical elegance bathed in a endless stream of data. The film balances between these essential cinematic sequences optimizing opera and silence and then simple long-take character scenes. This juxtaposition creates an imbalance of effectiveness but jars you in terms of its ability. The beginning aspects hint a larger possibility underneath which meanders a little bit to the end in congruence with staying true to the actual story and not baiting too much in poetic license. But nevertheless, this is a very ambitious and virulent perception of Italian politics from a student of cinema. The after party at Canaletto simmered in white as the “2001” elements of the bar gave an ethereal feeling as the essence of the night washed over in a blaze of indiscretion.
Closing Night Party While most of the films were held at Fashion Island, the final was miles away on a removed peninsula at Via Lido. While more effective in terms of a final venue, location balance created a time lag. While waiting for the party to begin, Malarky’s Irish Pub by walking distance allowed a short pint of Guinness while locals swirled with the black cocktail contingent staring in contentment. The restaurants pulsed upon the opening of the tent with the onion rings and chili from Tommy’s Cafe. Also making the grade was a spicy wrap of with chicken tantalizing the tongue as Perrier bubbled from flittering eyelashes in a roped mix of flashbulbs, talk and whispered glances.
The 10th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival succeeds in their enhancement of a film festival for locals that knows how to maintain its virility. Despite low attendance on the first day attended, the support of the community in tandem until closing showed an intense belief in the power of culture despite a somewhat misguided program structure in terms of the overall breakdown. However a commendable integration of political and cultural highlights stood out in spades giving the confab specific identity.