The Grove backdrop for new mini-series

From left clockwise: actors Caleb Pruitt, Agatha Robinson, Peter Wickliffe, Jeff Wisdom and Josiah Wise run through a table reading of the script for “The Fairfield Boys” in the Cottage Grove Public Library.

From Buster Keaton’s “The General” to the 1973 movie “Emperor of the North” to the hit classic “Animal House,” Cottage Grove prides itself as having a special footnote in the annals of film history. This year, the city will add another title to its resume with the upcoming mini-series “The Fairfield Boys.”

“It’s something to get excited about because there’s already such a rich history of film here,” said director Peter Wickliffe.

Set in the backwoods of the 1850s old west, the mini-series begins with two outlaw brothers hunted by a bounty hunter. Following a shootout, two runaways stumble upon one of the survivors of the skirmish. In nursing the stranger back to health, the lives of the brothers and runaways intertwine.

Filmed entirely against the Oregon landscape, the mini-series will tell the tale in five episodes total.

“It’s spurred from the ideas of films like ‘Lonesome Dove’ and ‘Comanche Moon,’” said Wickliffe, adding that the visual style is inspired by “The Revenant.”

 As writer, producer, director and actor, Wickliffe has made the project his singular focus and is optimistic his passion for the craft will magnetize others to the project.

“Once you get it going, you just have to maintain the vision,” he said. “I’m hoping people will see that dedication from me and think, ‘Oh, wow, he’s really banking on this. It’s kind of win or lose for him.’”

Wickliffe’s interest in film and acting began as far back as middle school and he landed his first paid acting role in a short film titled “For God and Country” in 2009. Since then, he has been actively pursuing a career in theater and film, acting in films such as “The Bullet of Time” and “Roomies,” which traveled the film festival circuits.

Now taking on more than just an acting role, Wickliffe aims to inspire audiences to take an interest in the time period he’s put to script.

“I want to take people back into history,” he said.

Though filming locations for all the future episodes have not been fully scouted, the film crew has settled on an undisclosed location around Dorena Lake for the first two episodes of the mini-series and is likely to begin filming at the end of April or beginning of May.

Other locations in the general region are likely to be used as backdrops as well.

“A lot of what we have here is that natural beauty,” said Wickliffe. “And we’re surrounded by parks.”

The director is happy to utilize the Cottage Grove area backdrop in particular due to its filmographic past, citing enthusiasm he has already encountered when discussing past movie-making with locals.

Wickliffe also wants to pull resources from the area to complete the project, which may include extras, props, costumes or even property.

With the first episode slated to premiere by this fall, Wickliffe believes the mini-series will continue relying on these local resources for some time if successful.

“This will provide jobs for people for the next two and a half years,” he said.

As the episodes progress, Wickliffe anticipates the show’s need for people and materials to grow.

“Hopefully as it attracts more people, it will also even out,” he said. “As it becomes more complicated, more people will want to help with the project. … It’s a huge leap of faith, but anything worth doing is a huge leap of faith.”

A synopsis, list of cast and crew and other information can be found at the mini-series’ page at indi egogo.com.

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