Stories from the Life of Porter Rockwell
Documentary, 50 minutes, color, 2010
Director: Jared Cook, Jacob Hoehne, David Swanson
Stories From the Life of Porter Rockwell is a full-length documentary that explores the life of Orrin Porter Rockwell, a man known by many as “the Jesse James of the Mormon West.” Indians feared him, saying he was impossible to kill, but some people traveled hundreds of miles to try. Was he a saint or a sinner, a lawman or a criminal, a hero or a villain?
Production is always full of curve balls. Today, a key production day at This is the Place monument, we had a set back that could have brought the entire day to a screeching halt.
I went to go shuttle an actor who was arriving on set. He was clean shaven, short sandy blond hair. We talked as I drove him up to the cabin where we were filming. When I asked him what he knew about Porter Rockwell, he admitted he had heard the name and that was about it. I figured he was an extra to fill in the background and didn’t think much of it. When he met with Sarah, the production coordinator, I saw her face go white.
This guy was supposed to be our 30 something Porter. A short-haired, clean shaven Porter? While our make-up artist on-set is fabulous, you can only do so much. Apparently he had changed his look a few days earlier (from long hair with a beard) and his agent was unaware. We couldn’t use him. It’s like casting a flat chested Dolly Parton; it just doesn’t work.
We had to call an audible. We had the other cast, crew, equipment, extras, location, even a dove handler – all contingent on one character. Thankfully, our older Porter, Richard Purdy, was able to stay the rest of the day and play all of the key scenes our clean-cut Porter could not.
Well, Porter must have lived a hard life to look 60 when he should have been 30! But an older Porter is better than no Porter. We’ll have to suspend disbelief a little further out there.