What happens if we don’t raise the money??

This seems to be a question on a lot of peoples minds, so I thought I would take a moment to answer it.

First off we intend to raise money!!

We have set a goal of $170K so we can purchase the property outright and then use that as a match to apply for grants for the renovation. Several grants are 1:1 to match, so we could apply for $170K and create $340K, match $340K to get to $680K and so forth. This is the ideal situation, for us to get the most grant money and complete the project the quickest.

However, the minimum amount we need to keep the project going is $42,500 (a 25% match) to apply for a grant for $127,500 = $170K to purchase the building. There are limited large grants available for this project, and this would take up one of them. Which would put us in the position, of reapplying to the same grantor (success unknown) and piecing together many smaller grants, additional fundraising, and receiving lots of in-kind labor. All great things! But that further complicate the administration (and increase costs) and timing of financing, which translates to adding at least 1 year maybe more until the project is completed.

If we are not able to raise the minimum amount and secure the grant, then 94% of donations will be returned to the donor, and up to 6% retained for administrative costs incurred during the fundraising period.

Western’s Filmed in Sublette County

Part of reviving the Historic Skyline Theatre is to celebrate Sublette Counties history, heritage and culture as well as continue to reinforce and celebrate Sublette Counties current identity through films and performances.

It is well known among long time residents that 2 westerns were made in Sublette County back in the 1970’s. The Legend of Earl Durand in 1974 and the Sweet Creek County War in 1979. These films starred Slim Pickens, among others and many locals were involved. The world premier of each film launched at the Skyline Theatre. The last film showed by the Skyline Theatre before shutting it’s doors was The Sweet Creek County War on Wednesday April 30, 1980.

Below is an excerpt written by Ann Chambers Noble from the
Pinedale, Wyoming: A Centennial History 1904 – 2004 Book.

The Making of “The Legend of Earl Durand”

Movie producer John D. Patterson of Patterson Studios, Florida, came to Wyoming in 1968 to make featurettes for Paramount Studios.  When he left, he knew he wanted to come back.  Two years later he returned, looking for a feature film idea and a place to make a film in Wyoming.  On this trip he stopped for gasoline at the Phillips 66 in Pinedale and met the owner, Vernon Delgado.  When discussing the prospects for making a movie, Mr. Delgado suggested the Earl Durand story.  Mr. Patterson liked the story and hired J. Frank James to write the screenplay. 

The real Earl Durand was from Powell, Wyoming and had lived in the Park County mountains.  According to the movie, as a young boy, Earl’s parents feared he had a contagious and deadly disease and therefore locked him away in a shed.  When the confinement was too much for him, the young boy ran away.  An old mountain man took the young boy in and cared for him like a son and taught him the ways of the wilderness.  Earl became a great hunter, a skill he used to poach elk from government land to feed the area’s depression-stricken poor people.  The town sheriff, needing to make a name for himself, decided to go after Earl for poaching.  Earl gave himself up and he was tried, convicted, and sent to prison for six months with his poaching partner.  Unable to handle the confinement, Earl broke out of jail and returned to his parent’s home to gather supplies to return to the mountains.  While at their home the undersheriff came and two people were killed in a shoot-out.  Earl ran back to the mountains, and a giant manhunt for him began.  

Much of the movie takes place in 1939, and is about the hunt for Earl Durand in the mountains.  Locals were deputized and the posse rode with the sheriff to find Durand.  Automobiles, horses, climbers on foot, World War I artillery, even an airplane were used in the search for the outlaw, guilty of poaching for the poor.  When two more men were killed in the course of the manhunt, Earl felt terrible because he “never wanted any trouble,” as he said many times in the movie.  He hitched a ride to town with one of his unsuspecting pursuers, where yet another gun battle took place and another man was killed before Earl was shot.  The bullet that eventually took his life, however, was his own.

The movie, originally named “The Window,” was ultimately called “The Legend of Earl Durand.”  Michael Parks was hired to play Earl, though after three weeks, director and producer John D. Patterson let him go.  Peter Haskell replaced Parks as the lead, and many thought he looked like the real Durand.  Martin Sheen, Keenan Wynn, and Slim Pickens played additional leads and supporting roles.

The entire movie was filmed in Sublette County.  The early shots in the film were taken in the Green River Lakes area, but most of the mountain scenes were in the area around Boulder Lake and nearby Soda Lake.  The town scenes were all Pinedale. 

Sublette County residents were very involved with this movie.  Mr. Patterson hired Fred Petersen and Mike Nystrom, Sr. to assist with the filming, and ultimately they were Associate Producers with Fred’s brother, Jim.  These men owned and operated an outfitting business at the Boulder Lake Lodge and White Pine Ski area.  Petersen and Nystrom, with help from their employees, spent the summer assisting with the filming crews.  This work included packing camera equipment, day after day, to shooting locations, which sometimes meant the top of a mountain.  The outfitters also provided food and lodging for the crew, no matter where it was working.  While filming in town, the crew stayed at White Pine.

Patterson made few changes to make Pinedale look like 1939.  Years later, he recalled they had to take down a few television antennas and remove the modern cars and replace them with vintage models.  Many of the parked cars along the streets in the film were inoperable, but worked fine for the setting.  The Clark home was used as the Durand home.  The Courthouse, Allen Agency, Corral Bar, Cowboy Bar, and Cowboy Shop appeared in the film unchanged, but two buildings were “made over” to be the “Wyoming Bank and Trust” and the “Sublette County Library.”  The Forest Service log building on south Franklin Avenue became the “Sublette County Hospital.” 

Sublette County residents turned out in large numbers to participate as “extras” in the film.  The posse was made up of local cowboys on their own horses and dressed in “costumes” that had come from home.  Many heeded the advice in the newspaper: “A raid on the attic for any 1930s clothing, or other period articles, is recommended and would be appreciated.”[i]  The town scenes consisted of area residents behind the Hollywood actors.  <The Pinedale Roundup> estimated in late July 1971 that “about 100 local people are in this week’s scenes.”  Oscar Albert and his wife, Bobby Bing, Gary Reach, brothers Mike and Tony Olsen, Clem Skinner, Bud Steele, and Hank Ruland were a few captured on the film.  Two of the scenes, one of Earl Durand’s trial in the courthouse and another shot at the cemetery, were later cut from the final film, much to the disappointment for those who had been cast in these scenes.

John D. Patterson filmed seven days a week for 13 straight weeks, but was unable to complete the film shooting in one summer.  When he returned to finish the following year, three additional weeks were needed, but it took another six weeks to match the scenes from the year before.  Mr. Patterson then spent a few months editing the film, and it was sent to another company for distribution.  Unfortunately, the distribution was done poorly and the film failed to do well on the national market. 

The film did very well at its premier—in Pinedale.  Decades later, many local people continue to have good memories of participating as extras in the film, even if their part ended up “on the cutting room floor.”  There were also good memories of working with the Hollywood stars who participated.  Hank Ruland, who was working at Boulder Lake Lodge when the film was being made, remembered Slim Pickens and Albert Salmi helping him saddle and pack horses in the mornings.  Bud Steele remembered pitching horseshoes with Peter Haskell.   

“The Legend of Earl Durand” may not have made national film history, but it made history in Pinedale.  Locals treasured their involvement in a “real Hollywood” movie.  The movie also made a lasting impact on those who came here to make it.  Many of the film’s stars returned to the area to visit.  Slim Pickens chose to move to the Boulder Lake area soon after making the film and called Sublette County his home, where he was a registered voter.  He participated in the Chamber of Commerce shootout skit during Rendezvous weekends and the Green River Rendezvous Pageant.  His cremated remains were buried in Sublette County.  Producer John D. Patterson also returned to the area and built a retirement home at Boulder Lake Lodge.  The film is still occasionally shown, usually at the library.  It is a reminder of the good times the locals had when Hollywood came to Pinedale. 


Earl Durand        Peter Haskell

Phil Chumley                          Slim Pickens

Col. Nightingale                     Keenan Wynn

Luther Sykes                           Martin Sheen

Sheriff Trask                           Anthony Caruso

Jack McQueen                        Albert Salmi                          

Old Man                                  Phil Lopp

Cal Johnson                            Hal Bokar

Mrs. Durand                            Ivy Bethune

Mr. Durand                             Carl Kennerson

Hank Greenway                      J. H. Richardson

Angela                                     Luana Jackman

Jimmy                                     Johnny Patterson

Young Earl                             Gregory Patterson

Mr. Clark                                Howard Wright

Mrs. Clark                               Joan Howard

Bank Teller                             Robert Drake

Luke                                        Fred Petersen

Coogan                                    Gibb Stepp

Emma                                     Sis Pilcher

Sam                                         Harry Woolman

Billy                                        Billy Rowe

Dog Handler                           Kelly Wilson

Cameraman                            John D. Patterson

Associate Director                  J. Frank James

Assistant Producer                  Claire M. Parks

Associate Producers                Jim Petersen, Mike Nystrom, Fred Petersen

Pre-Production                        Anthony J. Corso, John Corso

Post-Production                      Rocco A. Moriana

“Ballad of Earl Durand”         Lyrics by Phil Lopp

Prop Men                                Kent Snidecor, Clark Perry, Randy Klatt,

Oscar Albert

Aerial Pilot                             Dave Low

Set Construction                     Fred Patterson

Grips                                       Mike Olsen, Tony Olsen, Larry Vance, Brad Fuller

Technical Adviosry                Vernon Delgado

Make-up                                  Louis Lane

Hair Stylist                              Nancy Stott

Sweet Creek County War 1979

A classic western with the bad guys fighting the homesteaders, with the good guys coming to the rescue. S

The Big Questions…

Admittedly, renovating a historic theatre is a big, hairy, audacious goal. But that’s what I love about it. If we aren’t challenging ourselves, our community, and continuing to throw crazy awesomeness out into the world to see what sticks, then things get stale and boring. I live on the excitement of ideas and the potential of this community.

I’m sure the community at large will have many questions about this project. That’s fantastic, it means you care, it means your interested, and means you have come to the right place. We want you to LOVE this project as much as we do, and we want you to feel comfortable and hopped up on life about investing in this project and the community.

Let’s address some questions we have already received!

#1 It is boatload of money to raise in (insert any excuse you can come up with here; economic climate, small population, etc) _________________________?

Yes it is! This community has history of coming together for a common goal, has amazing volunteers, and community engagement. Frankly, this community has seen much bigger, more expensive, more controversial, more complicated projects succeed. Examples include; Pinedale Aquatic Center ($21mil), Boulder and Daniel Community Center Renovations (over $1mil each), Pinedale Infrastructure Projects (+$40mill), The Library, The Museum, The Ice Arena, and numerous others.

We are confident the community will love this project! We have structured our 1st fundraising strategy to raise $170K towards the purchase price ($160K property, $10K admin) to attract half of Sublette Counties population about 4300 people to donate just $40 each. This will allow a large portion of the community to support this project and be involved for a very affordable amount. We will eat the elephant one bite at a time! Naturally, we will be looking for individuals and organizations that are willing and able to invest more. The more we raise in Phase 1, the less complicated the grant financing structure in Phase 2 will be.

#2 Speaking of the above projects, how will this project be sustain itself in future years?

I’m glad you asked! You are absolutely right, this County has been fortunate to build numerous amazing public facilities that are now faced with dwindling revenues and the big question of how to sustain themselves.

The Skyline Theatre will operate under a non-profit designation, that being said a non-profit is a legal designation not a business model. As such we have designed the theatre to operate to generate profit and provide jobs, without relying on grants to supplement revenue. This does not mean we will not apply for grants, it simply means we can operate without them. All revenues will have to pay for expenses. We will be charging market rate for tickets, concessions, and venue rentals. We have developed several conservative operating scenerios based on being open 7 days a week versus 4 days a week, with various realistic levels of ticket and concession sales. These scenerios have generated very positive returns. The difference between a for-profit and non-profit business model, is the for-profits return profits to the shareholders. In a non-profit model, profits are continually reinvested into the mission. For the Theatre this means first setting up a fund, possibly an endowment to fund the building maintenance and operations over the long term. After that funds will be reinvested into programming, staff, and possibly re-granted to other non-profits.

#3 The previous movie theater did not make it here, how do you expect positive returns?

This is untrue. The Pinedale Entertainment Center was operating with very positive returns. It did not close down because of lack of business, the theater closed because Wolf Dodge purchased the entire building, and had no interest in operating the theater.

#4 Why don’t you operate concessions with volunteers?

Because we don’t want to and don’t need to! This community has a plethora of amazing volunteer opportunities. It doesn’t need more volunteer opportunities, it needs jobs. It needs living wage jobs for adults and it needs jobs for high school students and retirees. The operating plan outlines 3 living wage jobs for a Director, Marketing, and Night Manager, 3-6 jobs for concessions help, and contract positions for accounting and maintenance/cleaning. In addition, to be eligible for economic development grants, which we need to finance the renovation phase, we need prove job creation. Part of creating a sustainable and consistent facility with regular programming requires paid professional staff.

#5 We hoped for a feature film/1st run movie theater, why won’t you be showing 1st run movies?

We have selected to be a multi-entertainment facility for several reasons.

First, 1st run movies, which are movies recently released for their 1st public showing. They have very restrictive and expensive licensing requirements. For example when Star Wars comes out, you maybe required to show it for 4 continuous weeks, and pay 65% of ticket sales to licensing agency. It is well known that theaters don’t make money on ticket sales, they make money on concessions, which is why popcorn is so inflated. In Pinedale, with such a small population, most people are going to hit the popular new releases in first couple weeks, then it is going to die. We would be left keeping the theater open to show to the movie, with a minimal audience. This is why 1st run movie theaters have at least 2 auditoriums and often more so they can stagger films and always have people coming in to cash flow the business. With a 1 auditorium you can’t do this.

Second, Sublette County already has a beautiful 1st run movie theater in Marbleton, where residents have the opportunity to catch new releases.

Third, regular 1st run movie goers are a narrow audience, which becomes even smaller in a small, spread out population. We want to appeal to a much larger audience and expand our opportunities to work with many of the outstanding organizations, events, and facilities here to add value to things already going on. In addition, this gives us flexibility to develop very specific programming for different subsets of the demographics. Basically what this means is developing film series for special interests such as outdoor adventure, westerns, classics, horror, and kids. Instead of appealing to a broader audience all the time and directly competing with the existing theater, we want to attract tons of smaller audiences that are really interested in one topic.

Fourth, we are not saying, we will never show 1st run films. We will sometimes, when it makes sense for our facility size and demographics. As a general rule, 1st runs are not our bread and butter!

Do you have more burning questions??? Please visit the contact page and shoot us an email with your question. If we get the question repeatedly we will publish a response on this blog, if not we will respond individually.

Theater or Theatre…

You may see we have both spellings of Theater/re through-out our promotional materials. Theater is the American English spelling for a building showing films and performances. Theatre is the British English version. Theater typically refers to a movie theater, while Theatre typically refers to a performance theatre or the actual performance. We began the project calling it the Skyline Theater because it was going to be movie theater, and later found out it was historically called Skyline Theatre. Since we are doing a historic renovation, we will be calling it the Theatre! So please bear with the confusion until we get consistent!