Interview with Alfie Creighton - Sept 27, 2006
Rob took the Brokeback Truck to meet with & interview Alfie Creighton. Alfie worked directly under Ray Breckenridge as the actual fellow responsible for the vehicles used, such as the Brokeback Truck - making sure they were on the sets at the proper time. (usually driving them himself) He is listed in the credits as a driver, drove the Brokeback Truck at the start & the semi that Ennis got out of. He's an interesting guy & had a wealth of information & stories to share.
Alfie also appears in the movie in the stands in the rodeo scene where Jack is riding & Lureen comes over to watch from behind the red bars. He has a moustache & is directly to the left of Lureen. Ray Breckenridge is to the left of Alfie....both are wearing white cowboy hats.
For Jake's character Jack, at the beginning of the movie, two trucks were obtained:
A 1950 Chevy, the stunt truck, was found in rough condition, didn't run well & was used for setting up scenes & certain driving shots.
A 1950 GMC, the beauty truck, "The Brokeback Truck", was found in excellent condition & was used for close ups & other driving scenes.
Rob: How & why did it come to be that the 1950 GMC pickup was selected as the vehicle for the movie?
Alfie: We showed the Director quite a few different vehicles and the one he liked had been painted flat black....he wanted something that didn't stick out too much. We had to buy a second vehicle to match it naturally, one for the stunts & one for the driving & this is the colour he liked, so we ended up with the '50 Chevy for the stunt truck.
Rob: Where did you actually get the stunt truck from?
Alfie: We got it up in Penhold (S of Red Deer, AB) There's a guy there who only sells Chev trucks. We looked at all his different trucks and he had one that was flat black, so we took that picture of that one & other Chevys. When the Director decided to use it, then naturally we had a little trouble finding one (the beauty truck) in good shape to match the stunt truck and then when we did, we had to paint it to the same colour as the flat black one.
Rob: Where did you find the beauty truck?
Alfie: Ray Breckenridge found it....a fellow had a truck for sale in the Auto Trader....an older Chev. And then when Ray talked to him, he found that he had 2 of these....one was a '48 and one was a '50 GMC. So the '50 matched the one that we had already. And this one was in immaculate condition...was blue in colour with hardly any rust on it at all & it ran well. So we bought it to match the other one & painted it flat black.
Rob: I've heard that this one came from BC. (British Columbia)
Alfie: I think originally, that the gentleman that came here from BC.....he had moved because of the pipeline.....he worked in the "oil patch".....he had brought both trucks from there & that's probably why they were in better shape.
Rob: I understand this one used to be in shows, etc. It was really dressed up with chrome wheels.
Alfie: Yes, and all the bumpers and tail lights were chrome....we had to dress it down to make it what they wanted as an old truck.
Rob: Have you supplied other vehicles to the industry, if so which movies, what about TV?
Alfie: Yes, lots of shows in the last 12 years. I started out with Dale Simpson, just hauling cars for him. I've slowly worked into the film industry with more picture cars. Right now we're doing 4 shows of Nora Roberts' books....I look after the picture cars in all 4 of them. They're about a month shoot in other words...18 to 19 days, suppyling 6 to a dozen vehicles on each one. Going back, before I supplied vehicles, how I got into the industry was supplying horses on a TV show called "Destiny Ridge" and then working on Marlborough commercials suppling horses, slowly getting into the transport area....ending up looking for vehicles for different shows. So both big features like Brokeback, or TVs, MOWs, finding & supplying picture cars.
Rob: How did you actually get hooked up with the movie Brokeback Mountain?
Alfie: Ray Breckenridge called me.....he was hired to be the Picture Car Co-ordinator....then he hired me to work with him finding vehicles & hauling them to sets.
Rob: Did you know Ray, prior to that?
Alfie: Yes, Ray & I have been friends since I first got in the movie business...we're still friends...buying & selling horses together & working in that industry.
Rob: Ray was the actual Picture Car Co-ordinator, but you did most of the work?
Alfie: No, he was there as much...he worked harder than I did, to start with, finding the vehicles. That's his job as Co-ordinator so he would go and research & find them and my job was to haul them & be on set along with him. He started out probably 2 weeks ahead of me trying to find vehicles. ....he had a list of vehicles he had to find.
Rob: Do you have any upcoming movies or TV shows other than what your working on right now?
Alfie: No, every year, it's whatever comes to Alberta & whoever gets hired to be the Co-ordinators....we bid on the shows that we want to work on & that's how we end up in the business...so you could end up working on picture cars, in transport or you could end up wrangling on the show....it just depends on what the show is.
Rob: What did you think of the selling price that the truck brought on eBay?
Alfie: I was quite surprised, mainly because, at the time, when the show was finished I was interested in buying it myself, to hang onto it, because it was a good truck & I didn't hear about it even being sold on eBay until a month or so after it was sold.
Rob: Were you shocked at the price?
Alfie: Yes, definitely, and I was shocked at everything else that actually sold on eBay.
Rob: Do you keep a stable of vehicles that you offer to the film industry?
Alfie: No, we don't.....it's not like California, where there are certain companies that have a lot, and store cars there. What we do, is, between Dale & I and a couple other guys that supply picture vehicles, is we have a folder, a picture album. We take pictures of interesting vehicles, talk to the people that own them, write their phone number & names down. We keep a file so that when the director, whoever, of whatever show comes looking for vehicles then we can just refer to that, phone these people, see if they still have that vehicle, and see if they would be interested in renting it out to a movie.
Rob: Do you get involved in the movies in other ways, these days? Or just strictly supplying horses or vehicles
Alfie: Mainly that's all I do. I am a member of ACTRA and I have done some small stuff. I worked in Nova Scotia on a film doing stunts on horseback and I've worked off & on with the stunt people here, driving, but mainly it's quite a close knit thing, so if I'm looking after picture cars, then I'll do fast driving, but not what you'd call stunts.
Rob: Jake was away from the shooting a good deal of the time. I think, that, in many of the distant scenes, a double was used for Jake.
Alfie: Yes there was a couple of times where we did far away drive a way scenes where we would put somebody in just so we could see the truck, his truck, or one of the trucks driving at a far distance. We do that lots where I'll jump in the vehicle if I'm the right size, or somebody else & we'll throw their outfit on...their hat...or their jacket, or whatever & drive. So in any of the, what we call splinter units, somebody else might have driven for him.
Rob: Do you have any specific information on which scenes we're talking about?
Alfie: There is the one with the red & white Ford going around the corner on the hill, both Heath & Jake were in the truck. I was sitting in the seat, there. Shots like that, long distance shots, we'll use somebody else. Just an SSE person, could be anybody, a cast member, or mainly just extras that are there.
Rob: It's my understanding that it was the stunt truck coming down, parallel to the railway track & then when the scene switches, it's actually the beauty truck pulling in....what's your information on that one?
Alfie: Yes, that's right. That was where we were using the stunt truck to start with and hoping that we would bring it all the way into the lot so that when Jake got out to kick it, he wouldn't be kicking the beauty truck. The motor had quit running on us.....we had to finish the scene, so we ended up using the beauty truck for him to drive down & kick. That was disappointing for me because it was our beauty truck & we didn't want any dints in the back fender.
Rob: I've heard that the director said "kick harder".
Alfie: Yes, quite a few times & I kept saying "quit kicking, that's enough of that".
Rob: Who actually looked after the vehicles?
Alfie: We hired another Teamster, a mechanic, Stu DePass who had a shop. As soon as we got these vehicles, we went through them & I would help Stuey. The '57 Chevy that was Heath's, we had to tear off the bumper, the grill, the fender, change the door & put that on....and their was a brake problem. The '50 GMC truck had a bent rod. The mechanic had a trailer with all his tools which he brought to set & would be there in case something happened....he would keep the vehicles running.
Rob: Were all the vehicles for the movie bought, then sold after?
Alfie: A few we rented, some we bought. Anything we bought, we turned around & sold for 50 cents on the dollar, or whatever we could get for them. We hung onto the vehicles for 6-9 months until everything had been put together. If we had to go & do a re-shoot, then we knew were the vehicles were. Then they were sold...we basically put the word out that they were for sale. Nobody thought they would go for what they went for.
Rob: How much of his own horseback riding did Jake do?
Alfie: I wasn't at many of the scenes where he did that, but most of the stuff, both of them did, from my understanding, because they actually went out & rode & felt comfortable riding. Sometimes you'll get an actor who says "oh yeah, I've ridden", and as soon as he climbs on a horse you know that he hasn't. Both of those guys could ride a little bit & did most of the riding, unless it was a long ways away and then again, it's more a matter of economics, where you can't afford to have the actor there where you have a splinter unit. He's doing his main stuff & you put somebody else in on his spot & ride.
Rob: Did you ever get a chance to meet & talk with Jake, Heath & Ang?
Alfie: A little bit....I talked to Jake more than Heath. I talked to Heath a little bit when he drove down the river just before they were going to jump in. They had horses in the back. He told me then that he came from a ranch in Australia and was used to driving a standard and hauling stuff in the back of the truck as a young kid, so he drove well. And Jake, I talked to him because he was trying to bulk up...they had bought him a bench & some weights & he would try to bulk up because he was doing his next show (Jarhead) and had to be in better shape than he was. He was so concentrated on this show that he didn't spend a lot of time doing it, but I talked to him a little bit & pumped some iron with him.
Rob: Could you tell me more about the people you worked with from the movie?
Alfie: You couldn't ask to work with a better person than Ang Lee. He was always very quiet, but he always had that humour about him & he kept everybody working. The first AD was the same way...he was one the best ADs we've ever worked with. He always let everybody know what was going on & what was coming up next. If there was any crowd standing around, he'd walk over & talk to them and apologize for us taking up their area, their space, their yard or wherever we happen to be working and everybody loved him.
Rob: Is this one of your more favourite movies you've worked on?
Alfie: I think it's one of the most remembered mainly because of where it went, where it's ended up and then the controversy about it in this day & age. It's something we really enjoyed working with. And then working with all the different picture vehicles...it was quite a challenge to find the vehicles that we needed to keep the Director happy and go through that many years. It's hard to find vehicles today that cover 10 years and don't look like they've been rebuilt. That they're actually new in those days, so it was a challenge to work on it.
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