Lights, camera, Calaveras

By Mike Morris / The Union Democrat

Filming on a new independent movie in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties is wrapping up, with a premiere anticipated for early next year.

Crews working on the film called "Outlaws & Patriots," have been filming since February at locations including Sonora, Jamestown, Columbia and Angels Camp. All of the film's actors are from the foothills as well.

"It's a story about two (motorcycle) clubs that didn't get along, but they end up working together with a Homeland Security guy to take out terrorists who were going to wipe out a lot of people in Northern California," said writer and director Frank Verbeck, who also plays the president of one of the clubs.

A scene in the film was recently shot at Carson Hill Rock Quarry, where a limousine with "terrorists" inside was blown up.

"We simulated a rocket launcher into a limo," said Sgt. Blain Smith,head of the Calaveras County Bomb Squad. "It was phenomenal. It worked perfect."

Smith was also on hand last month at Carson Hill when the "Mythbusters," a San Francisco-based Discovery Channel show, tested a theory involving a garbage truck.

At that shoot, Smith killed a rattlesnake near the set. Co-host Kari Byron posted a video online of Smith with the snake under the title, "This is why I love the Calaveras County Sheriff's Department."

"I'm probably going to make a belt out of the skin and send it to her as a joke," he said Friday.

As for "Outlaws & Patriots," the Rim Fire in Tuolumne County delayed shooting of one scene. It was completed once smoke and fire engines cleared the town of Tuolumne.

Verbeck, who has homes in Sonora and Angels Camp, said he anticipates having the low-budget film completed this winter, with a premiere early next year. He hopes to debut the movie at Bret Harte High School, where another of his films screened.

The movie's final scene - a motorcycle ride from Copperopolis to Farmington - is scheduled for later this month. Verbeck is asking area bikers wanting to ride during that scene - to be filmed by airplane - to meet at Copperopolis Town Square along Highway 4 at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26.

"As long as the weather is good, we're going to do it," he said. "I'm hoping for about 200 riders. The more the merrier."

The Union Democrat
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