Movie Making Gone Wild… WEST!

Wanted_denThey were wanted in several states.  It wasn’t uncommon for them to shoot up the local saloon in search of their men.  They were the toughest cowpokes in all of the Wild West and they were simply known as The Wild Bunch!Dsc01603

It didn’t take them long to find their men in Vallecito, California.  The men had just cleaned out the town bank and were looking for trouble with two of the town’s more well-known saloon girls.

It was high noon when The Wild Bunch issued their final challenge.  With guns drawn, they made it clear that it was time for the men to go for their guns or to go quietly with them.  Would they fight for their freedom?




It was a day of wild, western dress-up and technology combined.  Each person in this group of hardy and adventurous DEN members came from miles away to try their hand at movie making.  Some of them left the comfort and security of their homes at 5:30 AM to make the dusty trek to California State University-Stanislaus.  At 7:45AM they circled the wagons for a brief breakfast of donuts and coffee — the breakfast of all true cowboys!

But there was no rest for the weary.  By 8:00AM, the wagon train headed into the hills toward the goldrush town of Vallecito.  Tucked away, down a rough, dirt road, was the western set known as Millerosa.  Not sure what awaited them, they continued forth bravely. 

The NorCal DEN members stuck close together (there was safety in numbers) as they were introduced to Jim Miller and his wife, the owners of Millerosa.  The DEN was instructed to follow Mr. and Mrs. Miller down a steep staircase.  But, as they reached the bottom of the stairs, all eyes grew wide!

Suddenly, and without warning, this group of one dozen adults all became seven years old again.  It was time for dress-up and the ultimate game of make-believe!



After HOURS and HOURS of some serious play… it was time to head deeper into the mountains to the "NorCal DEN Family Cabin."  They had a fabulous time, and it was hard to say good-bye to their new-found friends, but they wanted to be done by sundown.

Even with a beautiful backdrop of pine trees and lungs full of fresh mountain air, they could not be distracted from the task at hand.  Heads were together and thumbdrives were flashing fast and furious between them.  And so, "The Wild Bunch" movie began production.

Good food, great friends, and huge laughs were the order of the day.  A wild (western) time was had by all!

What_if_we_tryIn_the_woods_and_still_working Ill_worry_about_the_food_1 Hes_hot Before After

Gotta_go If you would like to be a star for the day… please visit!

Thanks for a wonderful day, Jim!! 😉


Related posts


  1. Scott Johnson said:

    WOW! I loved looking back over these pictures! Talk about kids in a candy store! This was such a memorable and inspiring day. It was so much fun to “horse” around and be like the kids that we teach. (Although I hear that is not far from the norm for some of us DEN members!) I can’t wait to try this type of lesson with my students. I have spent several hours editing our movie and I have many more hours to go. I had so much fun at this event that I want the movie to be just right. In fact, when finished, I hope to have a few versions. Look out Spielberg!

    This will be an event that will go down in the archives and be spoken about for years. In fact, this could have the makings an annual event…hint, hint, Susan.

    Susan went way above and beyond the call to plan the perfect day for us wanna be westerners (As she always does.) Perhaps next time we can incorporate a sleepover at the NOR-CAL DEN Family Cabin.

    There is so much more to talk about that made this day so great but I will save those comments for the others that were there as well as for conversation at future events and conferences. Thanks again, Susan, for letting me be seven again, even if it was only for a day!

  2. Jannita Demian said:

    What a TERRIFIC event! Looks like a fun and wild time was had by all. Those cowboys sure look scary… definitely not the bunch I would want to mess with! I can’t wait to see your videos!

  3. Debbie Helm Stewart said:

    Movie Makin’ Gone Wild …… West had all of the ingredients of a well-planned lesson a la Madeline Hunter. Although Hunter’s once mandatory format is rarely mentioned in our hallowed halls in this age of NCLB, AYP, API, PI, etc. etc, many a lesson could benefit from a well-crafted anticipatory set. Susan hooked us with the offer of filming on location at Millerosa. The hook was baited even more with costumes. As we layered on each garment, our educator personas soon faded and we morphed into slow walkin’ and talkin’ personalities straight out of the 1880’s. I would have been a reluctant actress without the guise of that hoop skirt and sun bonnet. We were experiencing first hand that fundamental principle of taking risks in a safe environment. The stated objective was to experience the relative ease of incorporating movie editing into standards-based lessons, and Jim’s patient explanations through modeling and demonstration (with do-overs) resulted in ample footage for sharing and editing. What teacher doesn’t yearn for a response like Scott’s, “I have spent several hours editing our movie and I have many more hours to go. I had so much fun at this event that I want the movie to be just right”?

    Susan, thanks for providing one heck of a good time and a reminder that motivation and engagement create a desire to exceed expectations.

  4. Mark Jeffery said:

    Yee haw!Scott is absolutely right about us acting like kids! This event took me back to my “good ol’ days” of playing out scenes from the Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, Maverick, Wyatt Earp, the Rifleman, and Bat Masterson. I even reminisced about my favorite Christmas gift, a Fanner Fifty pistol, to Susan while the event was being planned! (OK – Who out there knows what I’m talking about?) This event gave me some really creative strategies for digital story-telling to share with the teachers whom I train.

    It was terrific to meet up with “old” DEN friends and make new ones – like Yolie and Dawn. Donna and Debbie driving three hours from Visalia to get there showed incredible dedication and boy did they add to the day with their acting talent! Watching eleven people meld so rapidly into a crazy acting troupe was fantastic and a real testament to Susan’s creativity in creating the event, and Jim Miller’s talent for western re-enactments. We jumped wildly back and forth between being dedicated actors, to seven-year-olds, to absolute hilarity! I wouldn’t have believed we could have that much fun if we hadn’t caught the whole day in pictures and on video. The wrap-up and movie editing party at the cabin was a perfect “ten-gallon” cap on a marvelous event. Thank you to Susan and Jim for making the event possible and for all of you of The Wild Bunch for a rip-roarin’ memorable time!

  5. Scott Skidmore said:

    My hat is off to you Susan. I had an absolute blast on this day. I just love having the chance to be a big kid. I have to apologize to everyone for taking so long to leave. But basking in the moment was a delight. I am so very grateful for the opportunity to make new friends and play for a day. School has been a stressful burden the past few weeks and the memories of our day in the sun have been a constant reminder and joy. I finally got my hands on the raw footage this weekend so it will be my turn to see how I can stretch my experience and create a product. I cannot wait to swap movies and stories with everyone in the future. Thank you all for letting me come and play.

  6. Dawn Rowland said:

    Hello all!!! What great fun was had that day. I didn’t know any of the other DEN members, and they all made me feel so welcome. Susan went out of her way to make this such a wonderful event. As a new DEN member and not a very tech savvy one at that, I really appreciated all the wonderful help that everyone gave me. I still can’t believe how much I learned at this event. I am definitely ready to make movies with my class now as well as teach them how to use the programs. Thanks again to Susan and all the great DEN members I met at this event.

  7. Jackie Wimberley said:

    Wahoo! What a great experience! The whole day was so well organized and so creative! We had a chance to play and work…practical application of skills! Thanks for a marvelous experience. I can’t wait for the next adventure.

Comments are closed.