Bandera resident Dennis Allyn’s faith-based western short films, “The Ride to Tres Cuerdas” and “FORTY,” were two of the ten most-watched films on Creative Motion Network, making the list on November 22, just two days after they were uploaded to the free Roku-based streaming service and “The Ride to Tres Cuerdas” staying on the most watched into December.
“It was a giant surprise to hear that they made the list so fast, and I was thrilled that people were watching them,” said Allyn, who moved to Bandera in 2007.
“The Ride to Tres Cuerdas,” which debuted at number 2 on CMN’s most-watched offering and became number 1 the following week, relocates the story of Christ’s resurrection to Texas in the early 1870’s. Instead of appearing to two travelers on the road to Emmaus, the resurrected Messiah appears to two cowboys riding on a trail.
“Dennis is a visionary director who loves the Bible and has a heart for making the Gospel of Jesus real to others,” said CJ Morrison, who handled continuity and served as an actress and story editor for both shorts.
“So many love the old west, and Dennis artfully conjoins biblical stories with the old west genre,” she said.
In “FORTY,” Allyn returns to the old west setting to tell the temptation of Christ. As is also the case in “Cuerdas,” the short ends with unscripted testimonies from the cast and crew.
“I told the actors to say whatever they wanted,” said Allyn. “The reactions you see in the final product are real and raw.”
Allyn required that all involved in the film were Christians. As a result, “The Ride to Tres Cuerdas” and “FORTY” share many of the same cast and crew.
“I have been fortunate to have been able to participate in two of Dennis’ faith-based movies, and both were able to help strengthen my own belief in my worship of our Lord and Savior,” said Delbert Stanley, who played an angel in one short and a crucifixion witness in another.
Allyn’s inspiration for both films came to him during a sermon from Ridin’ the River Cowboy Fellowship’s Pastor Jeff Bishop.
“God spoke to me during that sermon,” Allyn said.
Allyn checked in with Bishop throughout the writing process to ensure that the original message of the Bible stories was still clear and faithful to the source.
“I was basically writing for God, rewriting his words in cowboy talk,” said Allyn.
Throughout the production, Allyn’s dedication to telling that message was clear to his cast and crew.
When you’re trying to retell the greatest story ever told, the pressure is on big time. Dennis rose to the challenge” said Weldon Oliver, one of the actors from “The Ride to Tres Cuerdas”
“I love working with Dennis in any capacity but I see great things ahead for this man of God,” said Weldon, who is also an ordained associate pastor.
Serving as writer, director and producer, Allyn assembled a skeleton crew and group of actors who volunteered to work in the film free of charge, shooting at locations like Dixie Dude Ranch and private Bandera County ranches.
Working with cinematographer Steven Alvarado, Allyn’s westerns utilize overhead drone shots, sweeping wide shots and intimate closeups to highlight the scenery of Bandera.
“FORTY” features several special effects such as the spitting out of a burning cross and a snake.
While highlighting the Bandera community was very important to him, Allyn said the Christian messaging of the film was the main priority.
“Getting The Word out was the most important part of making them, and if I affected even just one person then I’m happy,” he said.
Allyn’s other career highlights include working as a camel wrangler on Disney’s “Hidalgo,” where he got to spend some time talking to the late Omar Shariff and as a camel and water buffalo wrangler on “Batman v Superman: The Dawn Of Justice” with Amy Adams. He has also acted in several films and currently finished a feature length film “Showdown On The Brazos”.
As for future endeavors, Allyn says he currently has multiple projects in development. Not all of them are faith-based, but he is working on another short film that examines three passages from the Bible where Christ interacts with women.