I’ve been retired and living in Central Texas, just south of Austin, for two and a half years now and, as a former working journalist, I, of course, subscribe to the nearest major daily newspaper, which, in my case, is the Austin American-Statesman. During that time I’ve been amazed by some of the clueless dolts who purportedly write letters they hope will appear in the newspaper’s editorial page. I can no longer stand it and felt the need to respond to some of these fools.
Today’s winning letter comes from someone who identified himself as Charles Mistretta of Austin. Charles writes:
"I saw an interesting movie recently set in West Texas, Hell or High Water. Good enough to get Jeff Bridges an Academy Award nomination for best actor in a supporting role, similar to the one he got for The Last Picture Show.
"My pain comes from the fact that my beloved West Texas was portrayed by New Mexico. What’s wrong with filming Texas movies in Texas? Shame on those responsible for this travesty. Might as well film Alamo movies in California!"
Or film Boston priests movies in Toronto, which, incidentally, is actually where the Academy Award winning Spotlight was filmed. I wonder if Mistretta knows that all the Johnny Weismüller Tarzan movies were filmed exclusively on Hollywood sound stages. Or that most of Lawrence of Arabia was filmed in Spain.
But, perhaps Mistretta is only concerned with movies supposedly set in "my beloved West Texas." So I have to wonder how he feels about the fact that neither the majority of No Country for Old Men or There Will Be Blood, two other recent films purportedly set in West Texas, were not shot in this state.
Filming locations are chosen based on a number of factors more important than "is this exactly the place where action is supposed to take place, according to the script?". Chief among them is budget (and, as a corollary to that, does the state in which you are filming provide competitive tax subsidies). Most filming location decisions are based on the costs of filming, the production expenses involved in the various location alternatives. The second most important factor is convenience (Will it be easy for the cast and crew to reach the shooting location each day? What are the obstacles that might be encountered? Transportation requirements, supply needs). Local laws and regulations, especially when it comes to the ease of obtaining filming permits, also play major roles in determining where films will be shot..
Mistretta needs to simply get over it. Hell or High Water is an outstanding work of fiction. It’s make believe. Filmmaking is all about make believe. Accept that fact and then just sit back and enjoy.
On the other hand, I’m glad that Charles Mistretta of Austin lives such a carefree life that his major concern is where Hell or High Water was filmed. It must be nice.