T2004-57-3
T2004-57-3

Landscapes of Production

Part of a Series: Exploring Highlights from the David Dortort Archive

The Autry National Center’s Institute for the Study of the American West is currently processing the donated papers of novelist, screenwriter, and producer David Dortort. Every 1st Tuesday of the month the Autry Libraries blog will feature highlights from the collection in anticipation of processing completion in June 2011.

New Mexico Governor David Cargo, David Dortort, Motion Picture Commission Chairman Lou Gasperini, Mayor of Albuquerque Pete Domenici, David Dortort Archive, Autry Library, Autry National Center; T2004-74-5.
New Mexico Governor David Cargo, David Dortort, Motion Picture Commission Chairman Lou Gasperini, Mayor of Albuquerque Pete Domenici, David Dortort Archive, Autry Library, Autry National Center; T2004-74–5.

State governments view film activity as a profitable way of creating jobs and increasing state business activity. As a result, many state governments courted David Dortort and offered enticing images of their states in brochures, binders, and original photographs showcasing vast sweeps of beautiful landscape. These photographs and related documents offer insight not only into the process of enticing filmmakers to set up shop in a particular region, but also provide evidence for tourism and regional development strategies in the second half of the 20th century.

Promotional Colorado Tourism Brochure, David Dortort Archive, Autry Library, Autry National Center; T2004-57–3.
Kentucky Tourism Photo, David Dortort Archive, Autry Library, Autry National Center; T2004-57–8.

Some of the most compelling images in the David Dortort Archive relate to location scouting production materials. Kentucky photographs for a proposed production of “The Saga of Jennie Wiley” provide one example. The production was to be based on Harry M. Caudill’s novel “Dark Hills to Westward,” a fictionalized account based off of a true story about a pioneer woman’s capture by a band of Native Americans and her subsequent escape. In May 1980 the Kentucky Film Commission took the photographs and mailed them to Dortort, suggesting that he film in the region of the U.S. where Wiley was held captive.

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A trip to Arkansas is represented by a group of photographs mailed to Dortort after his visit in June 1969. Some photos featured images of the visitors, but they primarily focus on the landscape:

Arkansas 1969, David Dortort Archive, Autry Library, Autry National Center; T2003-198–14.
British Columbia Tourism Photo, David Dortort Archive, Autry Library, Autry National Center; T2003-198–13.
British Columbia Tourism Photo, David Dortort Archive, Autry Library, Autry National Center; T2003-198–13.

British Columbia is particularly well-​represented by dozens of government travel bureau produced images showcasing western Canada’s expansive and diverse locales.

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British Columbia Tourism Photo, David Dortort Archive, Autry Library, Autry National Center; T2003-198–13.

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British Columbia Tourism Photo, David Dortort Archive, Autry Library, Autry National Center; T2003-198–13.

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In 1996 the Commission on Economic Development in Nevada sent Dortort a folder of panoramic images of a region known as American Flats. They hoped to convince him to film in Nevada at a soon-​to-​be-​built western town. The old cyanide plant in the panorama was put on offer to be blown up by any interested filming parties. A letter accompanying the panorama folder noted, “If you know anyone who might want a good place to blow up, the fire department would like to give the opportunity to a production company, with location fees donated to County Search and Rescue.”

The exterior of a file folder filled with unique and interconnected panoramas attached to the folder, David Dortort Archive, Autry Library, Autry National Center; T2006-88–9.
The interior of the folder has several sections with fold-​out photo landscapes, David Dortort Archive, Autry Library, Autry National Center; T2006-88–9.
A sequence of landscapes mailed from Alberta, Canada, David Dortort Archive, Autry Library, Autry National Center; T2003-198–23.2

Another gorgeous group of landscapes came from Sunbridge Productions from Lethbridge, Alberta in May 1987. The package does not have a letter with it, leaving the pictures to speak for themselves – something they do very well.

This article is filed under:

Libraries and Archives · Uncategorized

About the author

MALLORY FURNIER is Special Projects Archivist. When not arranging, describing, and preserving remnants of the past she enjoys ruminating about early film fandom and censorship, consumerism, and genealogy.