By Juan J. López
November 9, 2014
For years a group of western European fans gather almost every year in Almeria to shoot small amateur films, with the simple goal of recalling the shootings that were made in our province as well as, having a great time and having fun as gunfighters. Comparisons with classical shootings abound, the disparity of the origin of language and its participants, as coexistence with other movies, that crossed occasionally with Roman soldiers involved in Clavius.
Almeria Clips has long wanted to talk about them, and this year we were able to talk to two of its
directors and certain participants.
Ray Watts is English and tells as an18 year-old he saw the Sergio Leone films and fell in love with the stories, film, music and scenery. The opera of violence is where I learned most about the genre and where they were made. Since then his family has vacationed in Spain and on one of those trips he was led to Almería and saw the sets and villages of the West including EL CONDOR "where a guard came up to us and said that we could take no pictures. But a few pesetas changed hands and made him happy and he took us on a tour. The fort was solid and still in good condition."
The year 2012 they planned in advance to attend the Almeria Western Film Festival, but ultimately the organization changed dates delaying the celebration a month but they still chose to come to Almeria and in order to have fun at the locations he wrote a script and the group filmed a small short, which was extended in 2013, and again in 2014 "adding more characters, including Lone Fleming and her sister. El Tenador is a tribute to the character of Cuchillo, played by Tomas Milian in several films. "Altogether we had fifteen days to shoot over three years and has also filmed in Tabernas in Albaricoquas and Calahorra.
Although their expectations at the beginning was to make a film for them, "once you have a soundtrack recorded, I'll upload it to You Tube or Vimeo for a wider audience." Ray also has a Sergio Leone's locations page called A Fisftul of Locations. This also carries a video channel where you can watch some of their earlier work called swlocations.
This year he has shot a final chapter called HOLD THE DAMN GROUND in the remains of the abandoned Exodus set in Alhamilla, "It means to be an ancient town where a confrontation between the Navajo and the other protagonists develops." Besides the professional actress Lone Fleming in the cast includes Enrico Borracuda (Helsinki), Anne Hagel (Germany), Ian Foster and Jill Foster (Scotland), Adrian McAllister (Ireland), and Justin Isenberg and Raymond Isenberg (USA) Luz Altamira, Javier Ramos and Jose Hita (Spain), Julian Braithwaite (Norway) and Chris Keller (Germany) ... for now.
One of the actors who has appeared every year is Ian Foster, who is known for this commercial for Lidl which we announced a few months ago appearing twice as Lee Van Cleef. His first contact with Almeria, was visiting the Festival Western de Tabernas "Friends Ray Watts and Adrian McAllister took me to several original locations of the movies." Someone said I looked like Lee Van Cleef and so I sought some appropriate clothes and then joined HOLDER. For Ian the shooting "Was a lot of fun, with many wonderful friends, great locations and a magnificent time" Tabernas "is a good place to stay, everything we need is only fifteen minutes away."
,,, AND THEN THE VULTURES HAD A FEAST
"... AND THEN THE VULTURES HAD A FEAST" with this title almost guess what's going on in the film that has produced by Christian Keller, who first visited Almeria in 1985 "was on vacation with my family in Vera and persuaded them to go to Mini Hollywood, we visited both villages and took photographs, at Mini Hollywood and Fort Bravo because I already had the camera, and since then I became interested in the villages and the desert in western Europe, also in war movies and later adventure films."
I wondered how I could get to shoot a movie later, Christian tells us "In the old Spaghetti Western Forum by John Nudge in 2003 Mario Marsili offered me a chance to go to Almeria, so we prepared a gathering in March 2004 with people from New Zealand, Europe, Asia and America, it was a great occasion together in Albaricoquas, and many of that group returned in 2004. We still watch movies filmed in Almeria and honoring the classics of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Unfortunately today Albaricoquas is surrounded by plastic, so we moved to San Jose and Nijar, but this year we stayed in Tabernas. Best of all is that people from different countries met at a place we all like, and built a friendship in some cases lasting more than ten years, thanks to Almeria and these films."
The plot of the film tells us that "many people come to a well to fetch water at the same time, no one knows anyone and nobody trusts anybody. To make things more difficult, the group is under threat from a group of bandits in the surrounding hills, they believe that someone in the group knows where a treasure is, but no one knows who. Then a woman who was abducted by robbers flees and takes refuge with the threatened group. Soon one of the group is killed. "In addition to the cast of El Tenador, the film also features Madlen Vogt, Ulrich Angersbach and Daniel Maier all from Germany.
Last year I had a story to shoot in the summer but the farmhouse where they had booked suddenly canceled the reservation and we had to leave, but we still shot a fake trailer called 4 HYENAS FOR DJAMANGO we recommend that you see it, and then filmed it this year, "The main objective is to have fun and feel like we were shooting as a group, if the result is good we'll see if we can introduce it to some event or festival." "Not everything went as planned in the shooting schedule but there have been no major problems, only some stress and despair, but no disaster. Tabernas has been brilliant in all aspects. The locations are stunning, it's not hard to get great images thanks to the landscape. The village of Tabernas was also perfect, very friendly, with lots of bars with cold beer and delicious tapas. It's a great place. Regards for GRANKA"
Anne Hagel is one of the few who speaks Spanish and has participated in both projects and some short films and theater while living in Los Angeles and in Germany "I know Chris Keller (director of Vultures and Djamango) from many years ago. He traveled to Almeria for the first time in 2004 and always told me about his lovely experiences. But it was in 2012 when he asked me if I wanted to participate in his film "Vultures" to take place in 2014 and of course I accepted immediately. "On THE HOLDER AND VULTURES" is the second year now (I started in 2013 to play the role of Estella) and it was always fun, we laughed a lot and the cast became more and more professional every year. The shooting of "Vultures" was very professional. We worked eight hours every day in the desert very concentrated and we were all very dedicated to this project (of course we also laughed a lot)."
Like the rest of Tabernas, "I love Tabernas! It is a very picturesque village with warm inhabitants. I feels like coming home and although I'm moving to Brazil in January, I am returning to Tabernas next year. A special greeting for Mercedes and Javier del Granka - our favorite bar in Tabernas. And I want to thank all our native friends who joined us, helped us and are much of the magic of this land of cinema and are so special! "
So we’ll just have to wait some time to see these projects on the Internet. It's good to see that not only large film productions lives but these small productions help in many ways to show our land and keep alive a genre for which we can feel very proud. Thanks to all the team members.