Tucson, Ariz. (KGUN) — The popular series “Yellowstone” has a direct connection to the Mescal movie set. One of its stars, Forrie J. Smith, began his career at Mescal.
Smith is now doing everything he can to see movie and TV productions return to the Western town built for film production.
In April of 2021, we first saw you on the Mescal movie set.
“I believe we got here on time,” said Mark Sankey, director of marketing for the Mescal movie set. “We’ve got some great historic buildings here. We’re going to rebuild it.”
Eighteen months ago, mescal had been neglected for years.
Once the sister property of Old Tucson, Mescal is located in the Rincon Mountains of Cochise County.
Some of the buildings made famous in movies like “Tombstone” and “The Quick and the Dead” were literally crumbling after years of neglect.
Fast forward a year and a half, and a team of volunteers has literally brought the legendary western town to life.
“Everybody here is passionate about the place and really cares about what they’re doing and saving this place,” said operations manager Lou Adams. “It’s a labor of love. Most of us are retired so we’ve got time on our hands.”
Adams and other volunteers have logged more than 15,000 hours, allowing the projects to be painted again in Mescal.
“We’ve had 12 this year,” Sanke said. “We have three feature films, we’ve done some music videos, commercials, a lot of western shorts, and that’s about as far as we’ve come to expect. I expect next year we’ll grow a lot.”
To help finance the restoration work, Mescal has been holding fundraisers, such as a recent meet-and-greet with Whit Smith, who played Lloyd in “Yellowstone.”
“It’s great, it’s great,” Smith said. “I’m very blessed to come back and maybe make a difference.”
Smith says he got teary-eyed talking to a group of fans at a fundraiser describing his return to mescal. He started his film career here, as a stuntman in the 1986 remake of “Stagecoach”.
“I worked three days on this road riding a horse on this road,” Smith recalled. “It’s just been a great experience. I’m so glad I did it.”
Smith shared his experiences visiting Mescal, where he shot scenes for series like “Young Riders” and “Gunsmoke” and movies like “Tombstone.”
“It happened here,” Smith told dozens of fans during a tour of Mescal’s Main Street.
Now that he’s starring in the hit series “Yellowstone,” he’s using his influence to help preserve an important part of Arizona’s fabric.
“Further west you see Old Tucson, you see Mescal, you see the Chiricahua Mountains,” Smith said. “Moviemaking is part of Arizona’s history. A lot of people who live here don’t realize it’s part of our fabric, it’s who we are, the movie business.”
Thanks to the efforts of Smith and dozens of volunteers, the movie business is coming back to the Mescal movie set.
Sankey tells KGUN 9 they could have more than 20 productions on the Mescal movie set next year, thanks to the hard work of volunteers and an upcoming Arizona tax break for filmmakers starting Jan. 1, 2023.
Pat Paris is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. He is a graduate of Sabino High School where he was the 1982 high school state track champion in the 800 meters. He worked part-time in the KGUN 9 newsroom while in high school and college. Share your story ideas and important issues with Pat by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram.