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Yumans' film inspired by successful run of bottled water commercials
A local scriptwriter and a former sheriff have had so much fun making humorous bottled water commercials for local TV that they've decided to make a full-length movie with a mischievous name.
Writer John Hawkins and former Yuma County sheriff John Phipps made a lot of fans around these parts with their Western-themed Diamond Brooks Water commercials. Now they're expecting to earn that same kind of following around the country - and in Hollywood - with their film "Peckerwood."
"I'm excited. We're going to go for it," Phipps said. "John is a terrific writer and this is going to be a great movie."
The two Johns began filming "Peckerwood" on Saturday and plan to have the camera rolling all over Yuma County for the next several months, with shoots planned for everywhere from Mittry Lake to restaurants at Yuma Palms Regional Center.
"It's a simple movie, obviously low budget and filmed right here in Yuma," Hawkins said. "The story line is really good and we just feed off each other."
"Peckerwood" tells the story of a rascal (Hawkins) who tries to rob the Yuma County sheriff (Phipps) who has the day off and is headed to his favorite fishing hole. But instead of throwing the robber in jail, the sheriff decides to take him along for some fishing - and maybe a life-changing lesson.
"I'm not going to tell you the ending of it, but it's a comedy."
Phipps said they started out with 16 ideas for the movie's name, but settled on a pretty colorful one.
"You're going to have to see the movie to know why it's called 'Peckerwood.'"
The duo's commercials for Diamond Brooks Water started showing on local TV sets about a year and a half ago. It all began with a commercial set on a Western movie shoot where Phipps plays an actor who gets angry with his director (Hawkins) for not serving his favorite brand of water.
The commercials end with Phipps saying "I just love messing with that guy." The guys have made three of those commercials. Both men star in the commercials, which are written by Hawkins.
Making their own feature-length movie may be a new adventure for the Yuma men, but working in show biz is certainly nothing new for them. Phipps has appeared in five movies over the years, in addition to 320 commercials for radio and TV. His biggest work includes commercials for Cheerios cereal and a spot in the movie "How the West Was Won."
Hawkins has also made some commercials and has played small roles in movies like "Good "Luck" with Gregory Hines and Vincent D'Onofrio and "If ... Dog ... Rabbit" with Matthew Modine.
"Peckerwood" will mostly feature the two men, but will include appearances by local celebrities.
Filming and production are being handled by a local company, Metalshack Productions, owned by Lou Chavez. Phipps and Hawkins discovered the local company when they were looking for someone to film a five-minute promotional DVD for them. Both men rave about Chavez's work.
"It will be premiered at one of the major movie theaters (in Yuma)," Hawkins said with pride.
He added that he thinks "Peckerwood" has a good chance at finding a buyer in Hollywood.
"We're going to enter it in film festivals around the United States - and world. If the finished product is as good as the script and as good as we are, we've got a chance to do quite well."
Darin Fenger can be reached at
email@example.com or 539-6860.