Someday in the not too distant future, perhaps the internet will be a thing of the past, and people will once again be chiseling out crude messages to one another with stones on slate.
But if such a grim scenario doesn’t actually come to pass, perhaps folks will at least be streaming a television show envisioning the post-internet age, based on the success of a pilot wrapping its filming next week with several days of shooting in Gold Hill, a “dark western comedy” with the working title of “Offline.”
An Internet Movie Database entry shows a female figure on horseback in silhouette overlooking a snowy mountain valley, with the words “OFFLINE: No Net, No Problem. Well … maybe.” A description of the production states, “This post apocalyptic dark comedy follows two horsemen in search of gas, who find themselves face to face with the woman who shut down the internet.”
The IMBd posting, last updated in February 2018, indicates a very modest budget of $75,000.
Rehearsals and filming in Gold Hill will take place Sunday through Thursday, requiring periodic five-minute closures of the tiny mountain town’s Main Street, in the block where it passes by the historic Gold Hill Store & Pub — which also will be utilized in the filming.
Denver-based director-producer Kevin Hu is a producer on the show. The director of “Offline” is Garbiel Dohrn.
“Gabe’s the one who found the store. He thinks the Gold Hill Store and Pub has the right look for this kind of story,” Hu said. “The town has been accommodating and welcoming. It’s a perfect cocktail of things coming together, so he decided to pull the trigger. Folks seem excited about it.”
Dohrn and executive producer Andy Jewett are not enthused about any publicity concerning their planned shoot in which the best-recognized name is Michael Madsen, best remembered by many for wielding a nasty razor as Mr. Blonde in Quentin Tarantino’s legendary “Reservoir Dogs.” Madsen also makes an appearance in Tarantino’s upcoming “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
They strongly discourage curiosity seekers from visiting the shoot, and at least one Boulder County sheriff’s deputy will be on hand, primarily to help manage the associated traffic closures on Main Street in Gold Hill between Bolder and Prospect streets.
The special event permit to authorize those closures was issued to the Denver Film Company, and covers the hours 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday through Thursday.
In addition to Madsen, the pilot features actress Mathilde Ollivier, most recently seen in “Overlord,” which concerned a small group of American soldiers who find a particularly disturbing brand of horror behind enemy lines on the eve of D-Day.
The operations plan filed with the county by the “Offline” team mentions around 35 crew members, five cast members — and even three horses, with the notation, “trained crew that will stay with horses 100%.” Each shot is designated as lasting roughly three minutes, each followed with a five- to-10-minute reset and road opening interval.
John Holste, special events coordinator for Boulder County, expects no problems stemming from Gold Hill’s days in the bright lights,
“There will be a sheriff’s deputy up there, as well, and if we see an issue with traffic building, maybe because of the Boulder Canyon closure, they will let that traffic get through,” Holste said. He added, “They did work out an agreement with the town to have a pre-screening of the film, there.”
Holste noted that his office issues roughly five to 10 permits for film or television productions — including commercials — per year. Boulder County, with its vibrant culture set against a dramatic natural backdrop, has been featured in numerous projects. They range across the years from Woody Allen’s “Sleeper” in 1973, which highlighted the National Center for Atmospheric Research, to the less memorable Jennifer Garner vehicle “Catch and Release” in 2006, which utilized numerous locations around Boulder. The JonBenet Ramsey murder case sparked more than one film project, including both the “Perfect Murder Perfect Town” television miniseries in 2000, and more recently, footage was shot here for the 2017 documentary, “Casting JonBenet.”
Gold Hill resident Jessica Brookhart, a board member and treasurer of the Gold Hill Fire Protection District, said residents don’t appear too flummoxed about the unusual visitors coming to the historic mining town of a couple hundred residents in upcoming days.
“I don’t think anyone’s really concerned, necessarily, about the impact,” she said. “Probably the day of, there will be a little annoyance. But I think it’s exciting, any time we have a little bit of attention. I think the town enjoys that, as well. We’ve got front-row seats!”