It was by pure chance that we found this treasure trove of a saloon bar off a remote country road in Western Montana. Time appeared to have stood still for over 100 years and as an authentic “Final Frontier” canvas on which to tell a story, I have never seen a better room in which to work. There was not one hint of modernity and the wooden and leather finish to the pool table was absolutely remarkable. The attention to detail throughout the bar was exceptional – the Bucking Horse is a labour of love for its owner – a true mountain man called John Crane.
48 hours before Cindy’s arrival, we spent a morning in the bar exploring every angle. The window light was okay, but the ambient light was marginal and it was clear we only had one angle to work with as I could not shoot towards the two windows. Luckily, with my maximum wide-angle lens, we could, from the chosen position, include enough of the bar to do it justice and also major on the pool table – which was the standout feature of the saloon.
The next question was what to do? This is an outstanding location and we needed to do it justice. We knew that the pool table would be critical and if we were to bring a wolf into the mix, he would need to be involved in the game.
On the day of the shoot, Cindy killed it – she was such a presence and that was exactly what I asked for. She owns the bar with her sovereign and authoritative look. I wanted to create a final frontier vignette that had a menacing overlay – no out of towner is coming into this territorial bolthole, playing pool and leaving with the cash. It is Wild West American hustle.