In a role not that far removed from its actual history, Descanso recently stood in for a Western frontier town. Chula Vista–based Southwest Pistolero Productions used the area to film scenes for a movie titled Get Out of Dodge.
In a meadow south of Interstate 8, cowboys on horseback were chased by Indians in warpaint. The scene was captured by a camera mounted on a remote-controlled helicopter. In the afternoon, the production moved to the town hall, the decor of which was made to look like an 1880s saloon. To fill it with gun-toting gamblers and barmaids in petticoats, producer Miguel Corona called on several local groups of historic reenactors.
Jodi Davis, founder of a group named Grand Ladies of the Old West, has family links going back to Descanso’s younger days. Her grandfather, Harry “Shorty” Courts, settled there early last century and started the first tow-truck service in town.
“He’d call this a real hoot,” she said, nodding to the spectacle of 50 extras in Old West attire, a bar fight with a "breakaway" glass bottle, and a fog machine to generate the smoky atmosphere.
The production company plans to resume filming later this year. The reenactors can be seen throughout the summer at various local events, including Julian and Coronado’s Fourth of July parades and Pine Valley Days.
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