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Production Begins
The design of Harmonville centered around the pivotal shootout scene on Main Street. The dazzling gunfight, whose images will surely remain etched in the minds of moviegoers, was the centerpiece of production when it commenced on June 17, 2002. In addition to production designer Buckley, who collaborated with Costner on Tin Cup, the director was supported by rookie cinematographer James Muro and BAFTA and Emmy Award-nominated costume designer John Bloomfield, who worked with Costner on three of his previous efforts. 

The shootout provides the film with its climax, but it had to function on more than one level. It had to operate as more than just a visual effects extravaganza. "The violence is not arbitrary, it's an integral part of the story,” explains Craig Storper. "There's not only the catharsis that comes from it, but lessons about fighting for democracy, friendship and love. These characters don't seek violence, but the notion that it's sometimes necessary to fight and maybe even die for things you believe in is the Western's most fundamental ideal.” 

The staging of the scene started off simply enough, with Buckley and Costner acting out gunfight scenes at his house. And while two adults playing shoot 'em up might not seem like work, it served a legitimate purpose. "It was great because I got to see how he was planning on blocking the shots,” explains Buckley. "I knew what the action was going to be, so I wrapped the scenery around the action. Once I had a general structure down, I had people in Los Angeles build a computer model of it, then it became like a giant Rubik's cube.

"For instance, from up in his loft, Percy needed to see Baxter's men riding into town as well as the eight gunmen heading towards Boss and Charley from the Marshall's office,” she continues. "Percy then had to run to the other end of the loft while spying on the approaching men, fire a warning at Charley, and be seen over Boss's head when he appears to be hit. From Charley's POV we needed to be able to see the shadows of the three gunmen sneaking behind the tents. Kevin had these very specific shots planned for much of it and we tried to accommodate them all. We had to go back and forth and readjust constantly. Then I wanted to maintain one side of the town as a straight wall both to funnel the action and to reflect the many towns I'd seen in research, while the other side was slightly curved so we'd always have something to be shooting into.” 

Filming of the shootout took place over ten days, using up several thousand rounds of fake ammunition. Property master Dean Goodine accessed the latest technological advances to simulate gunfire, mainly using electronics. The guns were wired with three charges in the barrel; when "fired” a small flame erupted. But it was all completely safe, stresses Goodine." There was no live ammo ever on our set,” he says. "Before every scene we gauged the size of load that was needed depending on the distance of accuracy and what the spread was going to be,we ensured that all the camera people were covered with shields and earmuffs, and we gave the actors lessons on when to shoot and when not to. After every scene we emptied the guns; we made sure all the barrels were clear. It was our way to get everybody home safe at night and yet give them a spectacular look.” 

There was no need to worry about the neighbors while shooting (literally). "We were pretty isolated,” says locations manager Peter G. Horn. "That was actually one of the beauties of the location. We were a good four kilometers from the nearest main road, and half an hour from the nearest town, Canmore.” 

The set's distance from civilization was not so helpful, however, for the film's second major scene, the torrential rain and flood. The most obvious challenge out on the prairies was the practicality of getting water to the site. Water needed to be pumped from the<


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