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In The Land Of The Yeast Lords
GENTLEMEN BRONCOS is packed with off-the-wall imagery inspired by director Jared Hess's childhood love of science fiction and fantasy. The film's geek-tastic world of heavily armed robotic deer, cyclopean military brigades, and gonad-filled jelly jars was shot in and around Salt Lake City, Utah, familiar stomping grounds for the Hesses. Salt Lake City has several production facilities, but there was a shortage of studio space at the time.

"The city doesn't have a lot of studios where you can build sets,” says Hess. "There are a few, but there were also quite a few things being shot there at the time, including HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3. Richard Wright, our production designer found an old furniture warehouse that had just closed. We shot a ton of stuff there including Benjamin's dome home and the big gonad lab—even the green screen stuff. Richard designed all of it and he was just amazing.”

For his part, Wright says he jumped at the chance to bring the various worlds of GENTLEMEN BRONCOS to the screen.

"When I first read this script, I just busted out laughing,” he recalls. "It's the product of a unique set of minds. Jared and Jerusha have created something I don't think anyone else could've imagined. And it's just gotten wackier as we've gone along. Jared is not afraid to take chances and not afraid to go a little over the top. That makes my job a lot of fun.”

Wright was tasked with creating two elaborate science fiction scenarios on a shoestring budget, a challenge he reveled in. "Since we didn't have a bottomless purse, we had to get very creative,” he says. "We spent a lot of time at the thrift stores, garage sales, and junkyards collecting anything that looked interesting.

"We took it all apart to see what we could make out of it. It's led to some pretty original and wacky-looking things in the movie. We built a futuristic lab and a turret and other elements of the sci-fi world,” Wright says.

The medical pod, site of a crucial scene in which Bronco awakens to find his 'nads have been stolen, was fashioned from a disused back-stretching machine from the local thrift store. "We painted it and altered it a little bit, added some weird pieces of metal from the military surplus store and a few car parts,” Wright explains. "We were going for kind of a throwback to some of the great '60s and '70s sci-fi films, the pre-CGI, pre-STAR WARS days.”

Hess's deep well of offbeat references helped Wright find the right mood for the film. "Some of movies that inspired Jared were from YouTube,” says the designer. "Or things he bought off the Internet from filmmakers you've never heard of. Jared even finds inspiration in public access television. That's not to say he doesn't watch the classics and the greats. But he takes a lot of inspiration from amateur video, as well.”

Hess's eclectic influences even extend his own early attempts at moviemaking. "Some of the battle sequences are drawn from earlier ideas I had when I was trying to make lame science fiction films as a kid. I was always trying to pull stuff off that I'd read about, but with very few resources.”

To get into the mood for the films within the film, Hess and Wright screened some old sci-fi TV series that used miniatures to create stunningly unconvincing special effects. "There were model spaceships coming out of the moon and then all of a sudden there were these guys in space outfits driving a moon buggy,” says Wright. "We thought, ‘That's kind of sweet.'” It was actually just a six-wheeler ATV from back in the '70s and '80s. We looked it up and found out there were eight-wheelers available, so why settle for six? We painted them and threw some people in funny outfits on them. I think it's hilarious that you can take something that is just everyday and all of a sudden, boom, you're on the moon.”


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