I remember when I first started out in production assisting the Art Department on tv commercials that sold things with stories: A couple of guys on a road trip; girl meets fly-boy in a dusty roadhouse, sparks fly, you know the rest; a pair of grifters on the run always one step ahead of the law; a typical Canadian family decides to forgo mom’s pot roast for a short drive to get Mexican take-out and instead find themselves (by the end of the spot) in old Mexico for the real thing (they so-love driving their new minivan)...

But people rarely tell stories any more.

a roadside trading post

What got me into the business back in the early 80’s – before today’s cute Apple one-liners pitched on an evenly-lit cyc or adorable babies break dancing in some McMansion, before entire feature films generated wholly on computers – were the audacious scripts and storyboards folks would then fly to Wherever Was Perfect to build complex sets in some wild landscape or land a biplane on some bumpy gravel road all to pitch products with an amazing story!

So every once in a rare while (these days), when someone comes along with a brief that requires me to tap my decades-long explorations into the corners of The West or remember a scene from whatever classic film is on everyone’s list; when I need to figure out where to find all the right details to make the picture everyone has in mind to produce – and not be more than an hour’s drive at the end of a long day for the crew to sleep in comfortable beds before getting up hours in advance of sunrise – I get excited about work again.

Just such an opportunity fell into my hands when Joy Asbury punctuated a conversation we were already engaged in, for me to provide some additional scouting on an IBM ad she had a number of scouts out finding options to a layout she was producing, with "Oh, and by the way, I've got a fashion shoot coming-up after this and the client wants to replicate the classic western 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'... " I thought this could be cool.

She and her clients had already done a bit of research on their own and found that some of the filming had taken place at an old ghost town outside of Zion National Park. I've traveled and scouted that part of the country many times in the past and was familiar with the settlement she referred-to in our conversation.

Unfortunately, between the late 1960's when the film was produced, the early 90's when I first stumbled upon Grafton on my way to Zion and then today, evidently that historic settlement has come under private conscervancy and the folks in charge told her it would be unavailable for use on the photo shoot she was organizing.
Joy and her colleagues needed 'a double' for their project.

I was sure I had several spectacular options for them to consider – not only comparable by providing old, period structures and homestead environments, but similar, yet even-more stunning landscapes than those found at Grafton – as backdrop for them to tell their story! On top of that, comfortable accommodations and great meals were well-less than an hour away from the sites I then scouted and presented!

To follow is a handful of my personal favorites – 12 ‘rollover’ images that will transform as you roll your cursor over each image, from an ‘antique photo’ representation of each picture to a standard color version of what I saw on those beautiful Spring days I was out exploring a remarkable part of Arizona.

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