Calling local actors – here’s your chance to be in a television pilot that will be filmed locally.
Actors and extras interested in appearing in a television pilot to be filmed in and around Montezuma County in the fall should head over to the Mancos Community Center, 130 Grand Ave., in Mancos between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday. Resumes and headshots are encouraged but not required. Masks and social distancing will be strictly enforced per SAG-AFTRA guidelines. All ages and types, and particularly Native American actors, are sought to fill both background and speaking roles in a dramatic one-hour television pilot.
Novelist Chuck Greaves (author of “Green-Eyed Lady” and “Church of the Graveyard Saints,” among other books), who lives in McElmo Canyon, and director Félix Alcalá, a relatively new resident of Mancos, are joining forces to produce the series that, if picked up, will be a locally-produced affair.
The two met through a mutual friend, and it wasn’t long before an idea for a show was born, Greaves said.
“Félix is a veteran of the business, he’s directed dozens of shows, including ‘ER,’ ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Madame Secretary’ – he’s a known commodity in the television business,” he said. “Our mutual friend said, ‘You’re a writer, he’s a director; you guys should know each other.’ So, Felix and I had dinner about six months ago. And we hit it off and we said, ‘Let’s do something together.’ We had a concept for a television show.”
The two are going about the production and selling of the series in a somewhat unusual way: Instead of shopping around a treatment of the show, which lays out the basic idea for the story and the characters and lays out the whole first season, the two have raised money to shoot their own pilot and then take that to Hollywood.
“What we decided to do in this case was something a little bit different, a little more radical,” Greaves said. “What we decided to do is privately raise financing to shoot our own pilot episode of the show and then with the completed pilot in hand, take that to the various networks and the streaming companies for distribution. So it’s a little bit different paradigm and it involves a little bit more risk, but in terms of maintaining creative control and ownership of the finished product, the rewards are substantial.”
The show is called “Badwater,” and not to give too much away, it’s set in a fictitious small town in the American Southwest – the town of Mancos, Cortez and Dolores will collectively substitute for the fictitious town, Greaves said.
“It’s about an intergenerational conflict between the older, more established and corrupt town fathers, we call them, and a younger cohort of people who discover the corruption and are trying to disrupt it. That’s the basic story,” he said. “There are a lot of overlays to that – there are environmental issues, Native American vs. Anglo issues, there are going to be a lot of contemporary issues ripped from the headlines, for the most part.”
Production on the pilot is scheduled to begin Oct. 19 and will be filmed over the course of 14 days in and around Montezuma County, Greaves said.
“The goal here is to have the show, have a network – let’s say ABC or let’s say a streaming service like Netflix – say, ‘Yeah, great show, we want to buy the next five episodes.’ If that happens, we will then be in production in Montezuma County for that entire season, and if it’s picked up for renewal, we’ll continue to shoot it in the county.”
And the county will benefit both financially and educationally, he said.
“A production like that would bring, what we would spend, approximately $3 million per episode for each of the six episodes (in a season) that we would bring that into the local economy,” Greaves said. “One of our goals when Félix and I talked about this, part of our ethos – what can we do to help this community in terms of bringing something new and exciting to the community. So the idea of bringing a TV production here had a big appeal to us. We also want to incorporate into the production a teaching component. So the idea is we’ll have young people, either from the college or definitely from the Ute Mountain Ute and Navajo reservations working with us to learn how to write a show, how to make a television show. We won’t do it for the pilot because the pilot’s going to be lean and mean and we’re trying to get this done. But if we’re successful at having it picked up, that’s our plan going forward.”
The auditions will be conducted in two parts, Greaves said, beginning with the open call on Tuesday. Then, those people who may be suitable for speaking parts will be asked back for a second look. For the rest who want to be extras in the show, their information will be taken as well.
Greaves said that because this is a SAG-AFTRA production, fully union, all the SAG-AFTRA requirements will be met, including the requirement of paying SAG-AFTRA scale wages to the cast and crew, including the extras, who will be working on the production.
“It’s really exciting. What’s really fun about it is we started with this concept a few months ago, and it’s now – the train is on the tracks and going. It’s a reality. We’ve got the financing, we’ve got all the gears moving,” Greaves said.