Old West images: horse, rider, and gun
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How to Make a Western for $20,000...or Less

Someday we'll have multi-million-dollar budgets and the backing of major studios. But now our major assets are talent, part-time jobs and a willingness to work our butts off. So how did we make a quality Western for less than $20,000?

  1. Start with a great story. Our original screenplay is based on a true story -- an incident that happened in Wyoming in 1884, when two cowboys struggled to save the life of a third. Their selfless act eased the suffering of a stranger, and changed perceptions about the character of the cowboy.

  2. Shoot on beautiful and historic locations. With real cows. Thanks to the generosity of location managers Debra Early and Gary Robertson, our student production filmed on beautiful locations that have been home to television and movie Westerns as far back as Gunsmoke.

  3. Get the support of some pretty wonderful people. This film could not have been made without the support of the CSUN CTVA department, and of the families, friends, businesses, and organizations who offered everything from financial aid to time and expertise. We are grateful beyond words. Thank you to our generous sponsors.

Thank You!

  • Debra Early, Pacific West Management*
  • Don Early*
  • Gary Robertson, Greenfield Ranch*
  • Rollywood Studios
  • California State University, Northridge Department of Cinema and Television Arts
  • Ron Smith, Sr.
  • C3 Advertising
  • Archie & Angie LaPointe
  • Steve Westerfield, Frontier Gunfighters
  • Juan Carlos Morales
  • Bill & Debbye Hillstrom
  • Mark Edelman
  • Debbie Morel
  • Phylliss Harris
  • Tim Moore
  • John Luna
  • Dan Price, Ventura County Film Office
  • Student volunteers Kota Oiwa, Charles Ohta, Sabrina Beattie, and Kola Popoola.
  • Steve Stanard
  • Tracy Smith Design
  • Casey Remy Multimedia

*When one of our locations was destroyed by the Simi Valley fire of October, 2003, these individuals went above and beyond to help us find alternative locations and schedules so that we could get this film finished. Debra and Don Early did this even in the face of their own devastating losses. To Debra, especially - we can never thank you enough!

  1. Seek sponsors. This 18-minute film is based on historical fact. Its subject and length make it ideal for screening for educational groups or events, or as a permanent exhibit in a museum. We would be happy to make this film available for these purposes in exchange for a donation. Please contact Heather Hillstrom, or see Film Uses for more information.