Mar 24, 2015

Cody filmmaker's classic-style Western movie shorts ride into region

Fans of classic American Westerns are invited to a screening of two movies at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Vali Twin Cinema in Powell that follows a successful showing in Cody.

The films are the “Absaroka saga,” two short Western films shot almost exclusively in this neck of Wyoming.

“I’m really excited to be doing this and showcasing Wyoming,” said Patrick Mignano of Hurricane Deck Productions.
It’s right wintery in the mountains of Wyoming when ‘Absaroka’ series heroes take to the trail to catch killers. From left are Sheriff Wilbur Crowley (played by Clay Gibbons), Lucius Blackledge (Patrick Mignano) and Monty Wilson (Kyle Oliver). Courtesy photo

The first film, “Absaroka,” runs 20 minutes. It won the 2010 Wyoming Short Film Contest as well as Best Western at the 2011 Trail Dance Film Festival.

The second, “Absaroka Sins,” is 45 minutes.

“Absaroka” was shown last week at Big Horn Cinemas in Cody as part of showings around the region.

Both “Absaroka” and “Absaroka Sins” have been featured on Wyoming PBS and Mignano hopes to develop it into a television series.

“Absaroka” is set in 1881 territorial Wyoming.

Lucius Blackledge (Mignano) and his sidekick, Howard Prescott (Rob Story) are cowhands wintering in a line shack. When they decide to ride into town, they find a fatally wounded wagoneer. In his dying breaths, the man says gunmen snatched his wife and child, Mignano explains.

Blackledge and Prescott ride to rescue mother and child from the hands of villainy. Justice is served, but it takes an emotional toll on reluctant hero Blackledge, Mignano said.

In “Sins,” a sheriff’s deputy is brazenly shot down in cold blood in the sheriff’s office. The sheriff, Wilbur Crowley (Clay Gibbons), lights out to catch the killer. While in pursuit, his other deputy is killed, so Crowley enlists Blackledge and Prescott to join his posse.

Tracking the desperadoes leads to a surprising series of events for the cowhands turned lawmen, Mignano said.

On the trail of outlaws in ‘Absaroka Sins’ are, from left, Howard Prescott (Rob Story), Lucius Blackledge (Patrick Mignano), Monty Wilson (Kyle Oliver) and Sheriff Wilbur Crowley (Clay Gibbons). Courtesy photo
There will be no admission fee at the Powell screening, but a $10 donation will gladly be accepted to support additional screenings and “Absaroka” filming, Mignano said.

He’s watched all the Western genre greats on the big and small screens: John Wayne, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner and others. “I’m a student of the Western,” Mignano said. “These (Absaroka series) hold up to any of those movies.”

It shows — Mignano ain’t no Easterner.

He grew up in Star Valley and has a home in Cody, he said.

He is pleased to show his films to neighbors featuring realistic Old West characters and sweeping cinematography of Wyoming that locals and movie fans will recognize, Mignano said.

He’s looking forward to his Powell visit.

“Absaroka” was filmed in and around Cody. “Sins” was shot in the Big Horn Mountains near Hyattville, Wapiti Canyon and Mooncrest Ranch, The TE Ranch on the South Fork of Shoshone River and Nevada City, Mont.

The filmmaker is on a screening tour of Wyoming, Montana and Colorado during March and April. Go to www.hurricanedeckproductions.com to follow links for tour locations, trailers and other interesting tidbits. Like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/absarokasagacontinues.

Hurricane Deck Productions is a small film production company founded in 2010. "Absaroka" was its first film.

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