×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

How Filming in Texas Helped ‘The Old Man & the Gun’ Capture Its Authentic Look

When writer-director David Lowery (“A Ghost Story,” “Pete’s Dragon”) set out to make his new film “The Old Man & the Gun,” a true-crime story starring Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek, he quickly chose Fort Worth, Texas, as a primary location.

Redford plays real-life professional criminal Forrest Tucker, who claimed to have successfully escaped from prison 18 times. The actor, now 82, has said that this may well be the film that caps his long career.

Lowery says shooting in Fort Worth “made perfect sense.” The action “all took place there, and the real Forrest Tucker was based there at the height of his bank-robbery career,” he says. “It also feels older than nearby Dallas, and has that sense of the West, so aesthetically it was just right. We didn’t even consider anywhere else.”

Lowery describes Fort Worth as “a great resource, if maybe a bit under the radar and underappreciated by filmmakers in general.” He says he would have shot the entire movie there, but financial considerations intervened. “The incentives in Texas are just not enough to lure big productions,” he notes, “which is a great shame,”

Ultimately roughly two-thirds of the shooting took place in Ohio, but enough was shot in Fort Worth to make the movie feel “authentically Texan,” according to Lowery.

Popular on Variety

The director and his producing partners are now working on a new film that they plan to shoot entirely in the Texas city. He has high praise for the Fort Worth Film Commission and its head, Jessica Christopherson.

“They definitely made it financially worth our while to finish shooting ‘The Old Man’ there,” he says, by helping find locations and making local resources available. “I’d call Jessica with requests like ‘We need a wall that looks like a prison exterior by 4 p.m. today — can you help?’ And she’d drive around, find the perfect spot, and we’d show up at four with a permit and crew.”

Lowery adds that “The Old Man” wouldn’t have been able to film some of its more difficult scenes without the help and input of Christopherson. “All the exciting sequences, like the bank heists and the prison escapes, were technically challenging to shoot,” he explains.

Since the Fort Worth Film Commission was established three years ago, it has helped some 200 projects, from independents to bigger productions, film in the city. “We have a couple of major indie films that are due to start shooting this fall,” Christopherson reports. “We also have three home-renovation shows that are shooting pilots right now.”

She notes that Texas, in addition to its experienced crews, offers a base incentive that ranges between 5% and 20%, and additional bonuses once productions meet specific cultural criteria and involvement of Texas residents. Plus, the city’s Worth Savings Program provides productions with discounts at local restaurants and stores.

The Old Man & the Gun” screened at Telluride. Fox Searchlight will release the picture Sept. 28.

More Artisans

  • The Cold Blue

    Erik Nelson Wants to Preserve the Past With 'The Cold Blue' World War II Documentary

    Erik Nelson describes his documentary “The Cold Blue” as “the garage band of movies” — he didn’t have the large team or crew other documentary contenders have. “The Cold Blue” is a World War II documentary that looks at raids and B-17 bombing missions that took place during the war. Nelson’s team looked at 34 [...]

  • The Irishman

    'Captain Marvel,' 'The Irishman,' Other Original Scores to Miss Out on Oscar Nominations

    The Regina Spektor song from “Bombshell” and at least six major scores including “The Two Popes” and “The Irishman” won’t be on Oscar’s music shortlists when they are announced next week. That’s because none of them are on the official Academy eligibility lists from which music-branch members are now voting. Preliminary voting ends tomorrow afternoon, [...]

  • Two-time Oscar®-winner Tom Hanks portrays one

    How Production Designer Jade Healy Recreated the Beautiful Neighborhood of Mister Rogers

    Production designer Jade Healy is doing double duty this awards season. For one, her work can be seen in Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story.” There, she created a world of angst and individuality, making use of negative space as a couple reaches the end of their relationship. In Marielle Heller’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” [...]

  • Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) is

    'The Irishman,' 'Once Upon a Time,' 'The Mandalorian' Among Art Directors Guild Nominations

    The Art Directors Guild (ADG, IATSE Local 800) has announced its nominations for the 24th Annual Excellence in Production Design Awards in theatrical motion pictures, television, commercials, music videos and animation features. Among the films recognized for outstanding production design are James Mangold’s “Ford V Ferrari,” Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon [...]

  • Christian Bale, Matt Damon. Christian Bale,

    ‘Ford vs. Ferrari’ Director James Mangold to Receive AIS Harold Lloyd Award

    The Advanced Imaging Society has announced that Academy Award-nominated director, producer and writer James Mangold will be presented with its annual Harold Lloyd Award for filmmaking. The director and producer of 20th Century Fox’s “Ford v Ferrari” will be honored during the Society’s 11th annual awards ceremony January 22 at Warner Bros. Studios. “Ford v. [...]

  • chadwick boseman 21 Bridges

    '21 Bridges' DP Seeks New York-Style 'Street' Cred in Philadelphia

    In director Brian Kirk’s “21 Bridges,” Chadwick Boseman plays a very different kind of hero than T’Challa in “Black Panther”: He’s an intense New York cop tracking a pair of killers throughout the city one fateful night, trying to box them in by closing the titular connections between Manhattan and the mainland. Along with Kirk, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content