It’s a curious phenomenon that the Big Bend region of Texas serves as the backdrop for so many films.
Perhaps it’s the beautiful desolation of the rolling dessert, or horizon lines that seem to stretch on forever. Perhaps it’s the clouds spread lazily across bright blue skies, waiting patiently to turn pink and purple and set the heavens on fire. Perhaps it’s the small town demeanor – people and places and conversations with everyone in line at the grocery store reminiscent of home regardless of how far one has traveled to get here.
On Sept. 14 at the Crowley Theater in Marfa, “Blanche” – the story of two cowboys, a chicken, and an infamous bet dating back to the 1950s – will encapsulate precisely what it means to be from Far West Texas. Starring popular local personalities like new-to-stage actors Tommy and Carolyn Mangrem, Alpine Montessori School founder Liz Sibley, and musician Rick Ruiz, Blanche was filmed within a two-week window, often involving grueling 12-hour days.
But more difficult than the filming schedule was finding two chickens and two understudy chickens that looked enough alike to play the same bird. In an extraordinary coincidence, the chickens were supplied by Sally Haley of Marathon, who is none other than Hargus’s niece. When asked about her ability to produce four identical chickens, Haley assured Pfiester it would be no problem.
“I’ve got chickens out the wazoo,” she said.
Pfiester said, “The experts said it couldn’t be done, that we couldn’t make a feature-length film in two weeks on a shoestring budget shot at eight different location with 16 amateur actors and two free-range chickens. But we did.”