Most of us who write Western novels are also fans of Western movies. I am tempted to say all of us, but somewhere out there is someone who loves books and won’t watch movies — I just haven’t met him yet. However, for the rest of us, there are terrific Western film festivals throughout the United States.
One of my favorites is the Western Legends Roundup, which takes place every August in Kanab, Utah. First of all, Kanab is worth visiting just because it’s so dang beautiful. It’s a great place to hike, four-wheel drive or horseback ride. It’s also where some of our best Westerns have been filmed: “The Big Trail,” “Stagecoach,” “Buffalo Bill,” “Fort Apache,” “El Dorado,” “Jeremiah Johnson,” “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” “Maverick” and dozens, if not hundreds, of others.
If you’re a fan of Western television shows, here is a partial list of some that were filmed in and around Kanab: “The Lone Ranger,” “Gunsmoke,” “Have Gun – Will Travel,” “Daniel Boone,” “F Troop,” “How the West Was Won” and many, many more.
Besides just being a tremendous amount of fun, Western film festivals can also be quite helpful as you write your book. For a few days, you are immersed in all things Old West. Fans and celebrity guests dress up in period-correct outfits, which are fun to see, as well as informative. There are booths selling everything you could want related to the Old West and experts in everything from weapons to clothing to food — all of which can help with your writing.
This past year, I was honored to be invited to spend two days in the celebrity room as, hard to believe, a celebrity. I sold a few books and met quite a few new people, all of whom came to see the TV and movie stars, but were nonetheless kind enough to stop by my table.
But the best part was getting to spend hours with some of the great TV and film people, including Barry Corbin (“Lonesome Dove”), Darby Hinton (“Daniel Boone”), Johnny Crawford (“The Rifleman”), Rudy Ramos (“Yellowstone”) and Buck Taylor (“Tombstone”). One of the best things that has happened since I first got involved in the Western world was being invited to ride a horse in the closing parade, with Johnny Crawford on one side and Buck Taylor on the other.
These men (and women) give a variety of seminars, classes and retrospectives over the four days of the festival. Movies are shown, and afterwards there are panels that include some of the stars, stunt people, producers, etc. The insights and backstories are fascinating for fans and writers alike.
Again, this is a film festival, and that is 99 percent of the focus of the event. I was the only writer in the celebrity room, so I was a bit of an anomaly, but there is absolutely no way you could come to Kanab for the Western Legends Roundup and not leave better informed, better prepared and more excited about your writing.
I wish you good writing, and if you have a question or something you’d like to share, send me an email at [email protected].
Thank you, enjoy and keep writing!