The ABQ Report - Season 2, Special Edition - Chasing Longmire - The Final Season
March 22, 2017. Destination: Las Vegas, New Mexico. Occasion: start of the filming of season 6, episode 1 of Longmire, the final season.
I decided to give the notion of witnessing some of Longmire being filmed one last try. It was pretty much now or never. I had determined through a reliable source that the first filming of the final season would take place that day up in Las Vegas, NM. I left ABQ around 8 a.m. on Wednesday, March 22nd, flew by Santa Fe, and arrived up in Las Vegas around 9:30 a.m. My first stop was the Las Vegas, NM Visitors' Center down on Railroad Avenue. The friendly girl there told me that they were "shooting" today in town. I asked: "Longmire?" And she said yes. I then asked: do they mind if you watch, from a distance? She said, no, they didn't.
Thus encouraged, I had seen that the local police had blocked off an intersection downtown not far away, and there were "special event" signs posted here and there. I parked my car at a nearby park, and walked up to the location. Not sure what was going on, exactly, I headed past a police car and walked a block or two down the street. All of a sudden, I saw a group of people huddled on the next block, and a very strange looking character standing frozen on the corner across the street. He had on a white cowboy hat, sun glasses and was carrying a satchel of some sort. He seemed to be staring directly at me. Not sure what was going on, I ducked into the doorway of the local Wells Fargo Bank.
All of a sudden, a guy with a pony tail and a Netflix ball cap crossed the street and came up to me and said: "You are looking directly at the camera; would you like to come over and stand behind the shot with us?" (Meaning the film crew.) I replied: "Longmire?" And he said "yes." I said: "I am a BIG fan". He said: something like: "That's what we like to hear." I quickly complied with his request and found myself rather anonymously in a group of film crew, all pretty much dressed like I was: distressed ball cap, long, straggly hair, blue jeans, tennis shoes and with some sort of bag or straps on their body; some with sling bags like I was carrying. The guy who invited me over was incredibly nice to me about the whole thing. So even though I had no credentials to be there, I seemed to fit right in. No one batted an eye.
Turns out that the guy who seemed to be "staring" at me was a bank robber, and they began to shoot endless "takes" of the guy walking to the corner and then running full speed around the corner. Soon after that, a young actor playing a bank guard appeared, drew a gun, and chased after the bank robber. That was the scene. Since he was doing so much of the work of making sure the scenes were ready to be shot, I soon came to the conclusion that the guy who invited me to stand with the Longmire film crew was the assistant director. I know that because I recognized the guy from Facebook who actually was the director, TJ Scott, and I knew he would be there. He clearly did none of the work of herding people around.
We were all then told to shift a block farther down to the next intersection. At one corner, a local bank's name was changed with temporary signage from Community 1st Bank to "Powder River Junction Bank". There were three vehicles parked all from the fictional Absaroka County, Wyoming. One was Deputy Ferguson's Dodge Charger, one was Deputy Vic Moretti's sheriff's department pick-up truck, and the last was Sheriff Longmire's Bronco. Soon thereafter, the Sheriff, Vic and Ferg all showed up ready to work. The idea was, the sheriff would drive up and meet his two deputies in the middle of the intersection and all walk into the bank together. The actual film crew followed close behind, actually filming. A couple of times, these three main cast characters were no more than 20 feet away from me, but they were rehearsing and working the whole time.
Undoubtedly, there was filming going on in the bank, but none of this was visible. The next scene had the blonde Vic (played by Katee Sackhoff) talking to a guy with bushy hair outside at the back of her pickup truck. Probably, the guy was a "witness" to the events in the bank. This scene went on for quite a while with take after take from a lot of angles and at various distances. This, probably, in part, because there must have been considerable dialogue which I could not hear from my vantage point across the street. (By that time, I had drifted back to my rightful position as a bystander and not a crew member.) The last thing I saw was the take where they had the cameras right up in their faces, practically.
As they were filming the scene with Katee Sackhof and the bushy haired guy, a rather large knot of production crew was gathered in the middle of the street facing the ongoing scene and filming. An Hispanic guy and his son walked behind me down the street and I could hear him say to his son: "Look at all those white people!"
The other thing going on was a group of "extras" who looked very much like a cross section of ordinary citizens, repeatedly clamored outside the bank window, alternately pointing and peering in and gesturing as if they were trying to see what was going on in the aftermath of the "robbery". There were also numerous takes of this scene.
Finally, after 4 or 5 hours of this spectating, I decided I had had enough and headed home, but was very glad to have actually witnessed not only one, but several scenes from Season 6, episode 1 being filmed! (Spoiler alert: I bet Longmire, Season 6, Episode 1 starts off with a bank robbery!)
Sent from my iMac
1. The Sheriff getting ready to rehearse the scene walking into the bank. Seen with the director, TJ Scott and the assistant director (far left) 2. Crew preparing to film scene with Vic and bushy haired witness. 3. Ferg, Vic and the Sheriff re-uniting with the Longmire film crew members on the first day of filming.