Protest scenes for the new television series “Badwater” were filmed at Mancos High School and on Grand Avenue on Saturday morning.
Local novelist Chuck Greaves and well-known television and film director Félix Enríquez Alcalá of Mancos teamed up to create a television series set in contemporary Montezuma County.
Saturday was their seventh day of production for the pilot of the series, written by Greaves and directed by Alcalá.
Known for his work on major television shows such as “Breaking Bad,” “The Good Wife” and “Criminal Minds,” Alcalá said he plans to shop the pilot around to networks after filming is wrapped up.
The show focuses on intergenerational conflict, environmental issues and the relationship between Native Americans and white residents in a town on a reservation border.
Actors Glen Gould, or Mi’kmaq, of Canada and Turkey Boy (Diné) stood on the back of an old pickup truck, speaking to a small crowd of protesters below. The Mancos High School building serves as the local sheriff’s office in the show, and protesters are demanding justice for a missing Native girl.
The protesters were played by students from Fort Lewis College, people from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the Navajo Nation.
Greaves said it is exciting to see the pilot he wrote for the show come to life in the past week.
“It’s nice to put all the pieces together, but I’m also wearing my producer hat, so it’s been a lot of work, too,” Greaves said.
As characters Rufus Medicine Crow and Curtis White Elk, Mi’kmaq and Turkey Boy call out: “What’s her name?”
Protesters respond with the character of the missing girl: “Nayomi!”
They also held signs bearing the words: “Where is she,” “No more stolen sisters” and “Bring her home.”
In the scene, Sheriff Lucas Briscoe, played by Kevin Kilner, pulls up to the station and is confronted by a reporter for an update about the missing girl.
A drone was used for aerial shots of the protest, and camera operators filmed the scene from each angle, including some shots through a window on the top floor of the high school.
Filming then moved to Grand Avenue in Mancos, where the protesters marched down the street calling out: “No justice, no peace.”
Filming during COVID-19Greaves and Alcalá were hoping to film scenes on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation, but a recent spike in COVID-19 cases caused tribal leaders to reimplement a stay-at-home order and tighten restrictions for tribal members.
“We were scrambling to find new places to film,” Greaves said.
Ute Mountain Ute Tribal members already participating in filming received accommodation such as a hotel room or AirBnb room from the producers to ensure COVID-19 was not spread on the reservation or among the cast and crew.
Members of the crew, the director and the producers wore masks when filming both indoors and outdoors.
Actors wore masks between takes, and everyone involved in the pilot was tested for COVID-19 throughout the production process.
“After a while, it kind of hurts your nose,” Alcalá said.
The director said the community in both Mancos and Cortez have been very cooperative during the filming process.
“They see us and go on about their business,” Alcalá said. “The building owners, the mayors ... everyone’s been really positive.”
Filming for the pilot is set to wrap up Tuesday.