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Tulare County wraps up film season

Tulare County wraps up film season

Dick Cheney biopic, True Detective series and car commercial among projects filmed in Tulare County

By Reggie Ellis @TheSunGazette

TULARE COUNTY – Former Vice President Dick Cheney didn’t grow up here, but when you see a biopic of his life on the big screen this winter, the scenes of his childhood in Wyoming are actually of the Kern River in southeastern portion of Tulare County. 

“We got the fly fishing scene in the movie,” said Eric Coyne, deputy county administrator and Tulare County Film Commissioner. 

“Backseat” by Annapurna Pictures, chronicles the life of arguably the most powerful vice president ever. Cheney will be played by Christian Bale, who gained 40 pounds by eating a lot of pies, shaved his head and bleached his eyebrows for the role, according to IMDb.com. The movie is slated for release in the United States in December and also stars Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney, Steve Carrell as Donald Rumsfeld and Sam Rockwell as President George W. Bush. 

Backseat is not the only film project to film in Tulare County in the last fiscal year. The HBO series “True Detective,” filmed several scenes for its second season in Tulare County. The show, which according to HBO, “weaves a web of conspiracy and betrayal around a bizarre murder in the scorched landscapes of Southern California,” changes its cast each season. Season 2 starred Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch.

Other projects included “Golden Revenge,” a web series by Conan O’Brien that shut down tourism traffic temporarily to film a scene at the Pumpkin Hollow Bridge in Three Rivers, and a car commercial for the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox SUV that was filmed in Balch Park for Chinese television. In all, Coyne said projects with production values totaling $7.5 million, spent an estimated $143,000 in lodging, food and permits while they were in the county. Coyne said the county’s Economic Development Office was able to do all of that with just a $70,000 investment from county coffers. That money is supplemented by $50,000 from the Tulare County Association of Governments and an estimated $50,000 in private donations. For 2018-19, the County will spend about $19,500 on trade shows, $32,000 on marketing and $5,500 on training, to oversee any pyrotechnics that might be used on location. 

“We don’t always spend the allocated amount,” Coyne added. 

Coyne did note that the affects of the drought and fires has somewhat hurt Tulare County’s forest that often serve as the wooded backdrops for movies and commercial spots. 

If he was short on projects, Supervisor Amy Shuklian suggested that some of her fellow supervisors should get casting calls for some potential film projects.

“If you ever get a call from someone to remake Wizard of Oz or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I know an umpa lumpa or munchkin,” she said, referring to Supervisors Crocker and Vander Poel.

Worthley added, “Alright, no more short jokes.”

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