After a long period of quiet from Decepticon Liberation Front and 21st Century Cat Pictures, both are making a return to theaters August 16th. Starring Christian Kane and Jill Wagner, Saddle Tramp is a western short about a wandering cowboy named Jack Robinson. Jack is a drifter with no place he calls home and he wouldn’t trade that freedom for anything in the world.
Saddle Tramp was originally conceived as an episode of producer Teufel’s TV series Marty Robbins’ Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, an anthology western that adapts songs by the country/western icon. However, he eventually ran into a welcome problem when adapting the song. “At first I was wondering if I could even meet the show’s average twenty page length, how was I going to flesh this song’s story out? It took me a while to figure out where to go with it,” Teufel explained. “By the end it was almost forty pages, a little long for TV.”
He considered releasing it as a TV movie but ultimately settled on theaters precisely because of the difficulties in writing it and because of the subject matter. “My bread and butter as a producer has been violent action and it’s something I enjoy writing. However, Jack is not a gunslinger. He’s not an outlaw or a lawman. There’s no violence in the story, which is a first for me, so to be honest writing it took me far out of my comfort zone.” A theatrical release made sense to maximize viewership and feedback. “I tend to get decent praise for my action scenes, so I’m curious to see how the flick stacks up without any of those to fall back on.”
This month also marks a return to the series Saddle Tramp spun off from after a few sessions of it being on hiatus. “The less episodes that air of the show the better for the network, actually,” Teufel said with a chuckle. “It’s turned into a standby for APB and their good streak since Session 12 finally came to an end. Filler sounds bad, but that’s exactly what it is. Being a regular series is tough for an anthology, but a one-off self-contained story is perfect for filling in holes in a network lineup.”
That doesn’t mean the producer thinks any less of the series. “Marty Robbins died years before I was even born, but thanks to my father he’s a musician I’ve loved since I was a kid. I used to listen to “Big Iron” and other songs and run around the house with toy cowboy guns.” A singer with the dual gift of having a rich voice and being a vivid storyteller, Teufel and his father would often talk about how Marty Robbins’ songs would make terrific movies. “I’m not a prolific enough writer to be up to the task of adapting his songs into feature-length scripts, but the anthology TV series is a great way for me to make good on that potential we saw.”
When asked about an endgame for the series, Teufel simply grinned. “Marty Robbins had a long career and there are many more songs to adapt. Whenever the threat of dead air arises, Marty Robbins Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs will be there to ride in and save the day.”
Saddle Tramp will open in a theater near you on the August 16th weekend and Marty Robbins’ Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs is currently airing on APB’s week five lineup.