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January 24, 2011

Man Without a Saddle

By Ron Ford
I haven't made a film for over five years now. Divorce and the poor economy have pretty much rocked my world and put me off my game. But now it is time to get back in the saddle, so to speak.
This project began when Mitch Tiner, who was the make-up and effects supervisor on my last four films (THE ROAD, TWIST OF THE VAMPIRE, TIKI and THE SNAKE-MAN), suggested we combine our two favorite genres and make a werewolf western. I remembered Kipling's story, Mark of the Beast, which I had previously adapted as a gangster comedy in my horror anthology DEAD TIME TALES. I always felt I had short changed the story that time around, eschewing its poignant themes in favor of cheap gags. The truth is, it's a powerful story with a lot to say about racism, faith and disillusionment. The original was set in Colonial India in the late 19th century, and I felt it would work very well transferred to the old west; using Native American "Indians" in place of the actual Indians in Kipling's story. The resulting script is, to my mind, the best thing I have ever written.
 The story: Three ex-Army regulars, Strickland, Fleete and Barton, are hired to convince a Shoshone shaman to move on to the reservation. The shaman, Tanupah, guards a stone petroglyph, sacred to his people. Fleete, in a drunken fit, urinates on the petroglyph and dishonors its spirit. In retaliation, he is cursed by Tanupah, turning him into a raging creature, half man, half wolf. After subduing the creature (an act which very nearly costs them their lives), Strickland and Barton torture Tanupah until he removes the curse. However, in so doing they all feel deep shame, and forced to examine their belief systems.
Mitch Tiner will be designing and wearing the werewolf make-up. It's going to be an old-school wolf-man, allowing the actor to use as much of his own expressive face as possible.
I also have access to some Hollywood quality miniature trains used for a western I starred in a few years back called Transcontinental. The trains will give us some great production value in a very slick title sequence to set the tone and period of the film.
It has become a labor of love. We plan to take our time, concentrating on theme, performance and period detail to make a thoughtful and entertaining film which will hopefully garner much attention on the festival circuit.
We are currently in pre-rpoduction and plan to shoot over the summer of 2011. The small cast and crew have already been assembled, utilizing some of the finest people in the area; all with many film credits to their names.
We are currently raising funds through Kickstarter. Please see our pitch at

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