Interview With Filmmaker Wayne Shipley on ‘Day of the Gun’ by Teresa McCormick Ertel

Interview with Wayne Shipley

Wayne Shipley
Wayne Shipley

Using his family’s farm to shoot most of the film, Wayne Shipley and One Eyed Horse Productions recreates the old West circa 1895 in Jessup, Maryland, to bring forth a new indie Western. What begins as a property feud, leads to a town in conflict, complete with classic shoot out scenes and unforgettable characters. Day of the Gun promises to deliver a treat for lovers of a genre audiences rarely get to enjoy today.

Teresa: What inspired you to write a Western?

Wayne: Having grown up with B-Western features and tv shows, I’ve always found the genre entertaining. When I was mature enough to appreciate more adult fare, pictures like High Noon and The Searchers continued to resonate. In fact, I remember seeing The Searchers in a drive-in theatre in 1957, a year after it was released. I was only thirteen years old, yet the film made an everlasting impression. It remains my favorite film.

In DOG, you have cast well-known seasoned actors like Johnny Alonso as well as up and coming local talent such as Sam Lukowski. Tell us about the casting process and the actors selected.

We held open auditions. Many fine local actors showed up. Some were looking for principal and featured roles; others were simply interested in serving as background action. I filled several roles with people with whom I had worked before. Since several characters required actors who had the range to deliver several layers of emotion, I took a great deal of time to select the most appropriate talent for the given role. “Look” is important in Westerns; so that was a prime consideration in the casting process. We could not, however, place too heavy an emphasis on “look” in a piece that’s largely character driven. There’s no substitute for talent.

Jason Brown and Sam Lukowski.
Jason Brown and Sam Lukowski.

Which of your characters do you most relate to personally?

I think most writers would admit that there is a little of the writer in each of his or her main characters. My tough-as-nails rancher Cyrus McCall is someone who commands respect because he has fought to create a secure world for his family. My equally ambitious Maggie Carter fights demons that would have corrupted a lesser person. Maggie’s son Ned is troubled in his search for his identity. His sister Kate, too, comes to know what she wants and will not simply take the comfortable path to self-realization. Cyrus’s son “Young Cy” is secure and somewhat cocky, but, like Kate, is not interested in anything that comes to easily. These people each summon a measure of empathy.

You are filming primarily in Jessup, Maryland. How does Jessup suit your needs for recreating the old West?

We built the town of Singletree, Montana in Jessup, on our family farm. We also used two other locations within the area and will use landscapes from Montana to cut into DOG to create a sense of place.

dayofthe gun posteruse

When and where can audiences catch The Day of the Gun?

DOG will be screened locally and in several other venues (including Montana) beginning August, 2013. Our plan is to four-wall the film for some time before seeking formal distribution.


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