Almost two years ago I spent two weeks in New Mexico and Arizona scouting locations. We were not scouting for a specific movie. (A zombie film I'd been developing was kinda sorta on my mind, but beyond that, no specific project motivated the trip.) Instead, I was simply being introduced to locations that possessed visual aspects I might find interesting, and that were dramatically different compared to the locations in my previous films. Eli DeGeer and I, plus a third member of our expedition, rolled through Albuquerque, New Mexico then headed north to the Taos area, which we explored rather thoroughly. I was especially pleased to stroll across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which I knew had been featured prominently in Natural Born Killers (1994) and Terminator Salvation (2009).
Our trip took us to Flagstaff, Arizona, then south to Phoenix. I was interested in driving through the Salt River Canyon, so next we headed east, stopping in the old mining town of Superior before continuing up U.S. 60 toward the 2,000-foot-deep river canyon with its dramatic, sweeping vistas, jagged spires, and mysterious valleys carved by millions of years of erosion. Our rental car snaked through the hairpin turns and steep inclines as we descended into the canyon. We crossed the Salt River, then climbed the switchbacks up the other side. We soaked up the spectacular visuals of the nine-mile from rim-to-rim drive, then continued north to the town of Show Low.
The Salt River Canyon was one of the highlights of the trip... but the little town of Superior, Arizona also stood out. I found the history of the old mining town interesting, as well as its rusty, dusty, withered look.
Today our scouting trip is paying off. Eli and I are currently developing a film that would be partly set in, and shot on location in New Mexico and Arizona. Taos and surrounding areas would be featured prominently, as would the Salt River Canyon, and the town of Superior.
It was just a few weeks ago when I elected to write Superior into the film... initially because the name of the town clicked perfectly with the narrative.
Little did I know, when I first typed the town into the screenplay, that Superior, Arizona has an impressive track record as a shooting location. As I started researching this little dried-up mining town, I came to learn that the epic How The West Was Won (1962), Clint Eastwood's The Gauntlet (1977), The Prophecy (1995), starring Christopher Walken, Oliver Stone's U Turn (1997), the horror / comedy Eight Legged Freaks (2002), and numerous other films had been partially shot in Superior. Pretty weird, our passing through Superior only because I wanted to see the Salt River Canyon, and my writing into the screenplay this little dot on the map because the name of the town stood out, only to discover later that the city has been beckoning filmmakers for decades.
Our Southwest centric flick isn't the only film I'm currently cultivating, so time will tell if it will be temporarily shelved in favor of another project - or if we'll soon be making our way toward the surprisingly popular film location of Superior, Arizona.
Thanks for reading.
- Eric Stanze