About The Sets & Locations
Filming commenced on July 17, 2000 at a ranch in Wimberley, Texas, a small community near Austin. "Texas was a great place to shoot American Outlaws because the topography fit the script," explains producer Bill Gerber. "You could get many different looks for the different towns m one place, yet create a movie that felt like it was roaming all over the United States. The weather's generally pretty stable and the people of Texas were very cooperative. We were able to bring our re enactors from all over the country and that was a good kind of midway spot for all of them."
The wide-open spaces of the Lone Star State provided the perfect backdrop for the film's pulse-quickening action. "The film reads as an action movie which takes place in the Old West," comments Mayfield. "We tried to elevate that part of the movie, give it more bang and a little more aggressiveness. We have five big set pieces that are all exciting. Our opening scene is a Civil War battle where we see Jesse's courage and charisma for the first time. We blow up a farmhouse. We have a stampede of about 200 horses running through town. There's the
Hyperion Bank ambush, which concludes with a huge, classic shoot-out. And we have an amazing train battle at the end of the movie.
The filmmakers undertook the mammoth task of constructing a 6-acre, full-scale, 'back-lot' style western town - complete with banks, saloons, a blacksmith, a livery stable, and a schoolhouse — on the Double C grounds. "Our first idea was to shoot at an existing western town," remembers
Mayfield. "And we scouted them all. None were even close to the specific needs of our script Being able to build it was a dream come true because we could make the street exactly where we wanted it, the courthouse where we wanted it, not where it existed in some other person's movie. This big valley is a great location and we were able to plop the town right in the middle of it. The setting looks like it's in the middle of nowhere and the town looks like it's been there for a hundred years. It's a wonderful place."
"I believe it's the largest western town set ever built for a film," adds producer Jim Robinson.
Production designer Cary White and his art department had the daunting task of
constructing the town's 42 buildings in fewer than six weeks. The construction team broke ground the third week in June and filmmakers were shooting the town by mid-August.
Carpenters used rough sewn wood on the exteriors of the buildings to give them an authentic look, since wood from the
mid-l 800s were not finished like wood products today. Only monochromatic colors were used, so the buildings would appear muted and worn. Due to a building boom in Austin, lumber had to be ordered and trucked in from as far away as British Columbia in time to meet construction deadlines.
White and his crew also accommodated Mayfield's request to build the set's streets much narrower than would be accurate for a real western town. "Photographically it works nicely because you can see both sides of the street in the same frame," White explains. "An actual
western street would be too wide for that. With our streets, you can see both sides quite easily because we ye compressed the distance."
Extensive planning allowed for this one set to "double" as three different towns in the story:
liberty, Fidelity, and Hyperion. After shooting the main street as Fidelity, workers changed false
fronts and signage to transform it into the fictitious town of Hyperion. Crews planted large trees and other greens, removed cornice pieces on the tops of buildings, shifted roofs made from different
materials, and removed wood siding on specific store fronts to reveal brick walls. There was also a rustic windmill with wooden blades that was moved to different points around the large set and
redressed. In the meantime, the production
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