Alumni capture the spirit of the American western
May 28, 2010

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“Gunfight at La Mesa,” a LionsGate release available on DVD and digital download, is the introductory work of Bryan alumni Walker Haynes and Chris Fickley. Haynes, the writer, lead actor, producer and editor, and Fickley, the writer and director, have shown that limited resources notwithstanding, hard work and determination can capture the spirit of the American Western.

"The Bryan experience prepared us for the picture,” Fickley said. “From the crafting of the story, embedding a Christian worldview and working with friends from our Hilltop Players days, Bryan gave us tools to bring about what our vision was.”

The cast and crew include a cadre of Bryan talent, including actor Tony McCuiston.

“Working on the movie was a wonderful opportunity. It was challenging and refreshing,” McCuistion said. “It was an experience that one could only dream of, and then to have it happen, that's cool. I appreciate Walker thinking enough of my ability to ask me. I am blessed!”

Composer Simon Sakatos, who along with Haynes, came up with the main musical theme of the movie, said, “When Walker called and asked me to write something I was thrilled to be involved in the project. I think what he and Chris have put together is something special and I'm just happy I was allowed to be a part of it."

Haynes included members of his whole family, giving small roles to his sister Shay Haynes, mother, Markie and Bryan College Chairman of the Board of Trustees John Haynes. Ken Conrad worked as an editor and colorist in post production, while Alan Smith and Dave Wilkes both contributed to building the movie’s website.

“Chris and I spent the last five years working on this project, but our collaboration would never have happened without the time spent at Bryan and all the experiences that were forged while there.” Haynes said.

Shot entirely on location in southern New Mexico and showcasing the beauty of the Mesilla Valley, “Gunfight at La Mesa” had a shoestring budget and thousands of volunteer hours.

“Gunfight at La Mesa” is a neo-western set in the 1930s, filled with heroes and villains, action, suspense, mystery, gunfights and showdowns. Tate Noble, played by Haynes, returns home to discover who killed his parents and to seek revenge. His childhood friend Samuel, portrayed by Dan Braun, now the sheriff of La Mesa, aids in the search.

McCuiston brings complexity to the role of the Judge, Samuel’s father, as their father and son relationship becomes strained. Samuel and Tate throw their lot in with an unlikely source, a mafioso played by Ronnie Steadman, to uncover the identity of the man ultimately responsible and still on the loose. Bruce Ladd, Kristin Proctor, and Jolane Lentz round out the ensemble cast.

Upon completion, “Gunfight at La Mesa” hit the festival circuit, first playing at the 2008 New Mexico Film Expo, then at the 2009 Macon Film & Video Festival, and finally, winning the Award of Merit at the 2009 Indie Fest.

Grindstone Entertainment saw the movie and acquired the rights to release it on DVD through LionsGate Films on May 18, 2010.

The movie is available for purchase through the website, and the DVD bonus features include audio tracks by the director, producer and sound designer, Warrick Marais; outtakes; deleted scenes; and a behind-the-scenes featurette with cast and crew interviews.

Located in Los Angeles, A Stream In The Desert Productions is currently in pre-production on “Hurricane Season,” the next film project. “Gunfight At La Mesa” is the first feature-length endeavor for Haynes and Fickley.

For more information on the production, contact Walker Haynes at (310) 722-6156 or