The wild west movie Western Religion, produced by 3rd Partner Productions and directed by James O’Brien, just unveiled its poster and trailer. The Western film was supposed to shoot at the storied Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, CA, until an unexpected government closure of all National Parks sent the filmmakers into a radical Plan B which saw them build their own Western world from scratch in the remote mountains of Agua Dulce, CA.
Writer-director James O’Brien and actor-producer Louie Sabatasso, the team behind the indie road movie Wish You Were Here, created an ambitious vision of a rough and tumble Wild West tent city, along with Peter Sherayko, who was responsible for the authentic period detail in Tombstone.
Western Religion is set in 1879 where Gunfighters from the far reaches of the globe have descended on the mining town of Religion, Arizona to compete in a legendary poker tournament in which their very souls are on the line.
“Having done a run and gun road movie, I wanted to dive into something bigger, something with historic appeal. We brought in Western historian Pete Sherayko to create a town that reflects the tent city aesthetic from the ground up. Due to the government switch, the town was built as the film was being shot; much like these towns went up overnight in that era. The classic case of art imitating life,” said O’Brien. “The impetus for the story was the incredibly colorful nature of these tent cities, where anyone from anywhere could turn up. They might be a deadly gunfighter, a con artist, or maybe the love of your life. Anything can and did happen in those pop up towns. And the same holds true in Western Religion.”
The production faced a number of challenges, from government closures, hurricanes blowing down sets, to coordinating a massive international cast out in the mountains of Agua Dulce, far from the confines of a Hollywood studio.
“Indie filmmaking in general isn’t for the faint of heart or for those who can’t troubleshoot,” said Sabatasso. “It’s about constantly putting out fires. This film was indie 2.0. An indie Western with a huge cast and the building of sets as we went along. Almost impossible, but so much fun. Sometimes when you take a leap of faith you land on your feet.”
Western Religion boasts an impressive international cast and crew. The movie stars Claude Duhamel (Dawn Rider), Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil), Merik Tadros (Munich), Miles Szanto (Married), Holiday Hadley (Gone in 60 Seconds), Peter Sherayko (Tombstone), Gary Kohn (Almost Famous), James Anthony Cotton (Phenomenon), Tony Herbert (Speed Dating) and Louie Sabatasso (Wish You Were Here).
Western Religion starts its film festival run and theatrical launch in 2015.