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NM-filmed ‘News of the World’ picks up 4 Oscar noms

Tom Hanks, center left, and Helena Zengel in “News of the World.” (Bruce W. Talamon/Universal Pictures)

While there were no nominations for acting, “News of the World” did pick up four Oscar nominations.

The New Mexico-filmed production snagged a nom for best cinematography, best sound, best original score and production design.

Cast and crew would embark on a 53-day odyssey across the forests and mountains surrounding Santa Fe in October 2019.

“News of the World” is based Jiles’ novel and is set five years after the end of the Civil War.

It follows Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd, played by Tom Hanks, who is a widower and veteran of three wars as he moves from town to town as a nonfiction storyteller.

Helena Zengel, left, and Tom Hanks appear in a scene from News of the World. The production filmed for 53 days in and around of Santa Fe. (Bruce W. Talamon/Universal Pictures)

He shares the news of presidents and queens, glorious feuds, catastrophes and adventures from the far reaches of the globe.

David Crank helped recreate the towns within a 30-mile radius from Santa Fe.

The production was shot entirely on location in and around Santa Fe.

For 53 shooting days, cast and crew touched down at multiple locations, spanning two storied movie ranches, the first Native American-owned film studio, two cultural heritage sites, miles of the breathtaking terrain, and the streets of downtown Santa Fe.

Here’s a breakdown of where “News of the World” filmed:

BONANZA CREEK RANCH

Bonanza Creek Ranch, just outside Santa Fe, has sprawling grounds, a 24-building town and five interior sets, surrounded by an unobstructed 360-degree vista.

With just four weeks to prepare the location, the challenge was to take one seasoned movie ranch and carve it into four distinct towns fighting their way back from the Civil War.

“Bonanza had a lot of character to begin with,” says David Crank, production designer. “So the job was to edit what existed – squashing down the color palette, removing trim and any unnecessary pieces – and making everything feel as real as possible.”

Tom Hanks appears in a scene from “News of the World.” (Bruce W. Talamon/Universal Pictures)

Separating the ranch into quadrants, Crank identified distinct characteristics that could serve as visual hallmarks for each town, as well as common pieces that could be reused. Piece-by-piece, Wichita Falls, Red River Station, Dallas and Cranfills Gap began to emerge.

COCHITI PUEBLO

Thirty-five miles from Santa Fe, the team touched down at Cochiti Pueblo, a pristine natural landscape cut through by the Rio Grande. The region proved a versatile stand-in for roads leading to Red River Station and the Red River banks, as well as the Shallow Valley. It is one of the most wooded places the team members found in New Mexico, and they went back several times, as it had so much of what they needed.

SAN CRISTÓBAL RANCH

An hour’s drive south from Santa Fe revealed true wilderness. Off the grid, ringed by the Cerrillos Hills, and the Ortiz, Sangre de Cristo and Jemez mountain chains – 81,000 acres deep, and roamed by deer, elk, mountain lions and bears – the San Cristóbal Ranch sits on the Galisteo Basin, where archaeological discoveries dating back thousands of years ago were unearthed.

“Paul Greengrass was drawn to locations that had gigantic, epic vistas in the background; that’s everywhere at San Cristóbal,” Crank says. “The scale is immense, and it’s a harder and much more open landscape than any of the other ranches where we filmed. But there was also extraordinary diversity; the terrain goes from wide-open trails to gentle rolling hills and towering cliffs to more enclosed spaces.”

EAVES RANCH AS DURAND AND ERATH COUNTY

At Eaves Ranch, the filmmakers found everything they needed to bring the dark side of the West to life. A workhorse of a Western town since Hollywood moved in to shoot “The Cheyenne Social Club” in 1969, Eaves Ranch has grown to house more than three dozen buildings, including a main square and a church.

EL RANCHO DE LAS GOLONDRINAS

The rustic El Rancho de las Golondrinas became the shooting location for Johanna’s destination: the farm of her aunt and uncle, Anna and Wilhelm.

A living history museum just south of Santa Fe, El Rancho de las Golondrinas is on 200 acres of rural farmland. It is punctuated by colonial homes that stretch back to the early 18th century, along with reconstructions of structures from across New Mexico – one of which became the Leonberger compound.

“We found a log cabin in this wooded valley that had once been a schoolhouse,” Crank says. “It had a rather rough field across from it and an adobe structure nearby, everything we needed to create the more established, yet hardscrabble farm.”

SANTA FE AS SAN ANTONIO

Pieces of downtown Santa Fe were transformed into Kidd’s hometown, San Antonio – which came to life the Camel Rock Casino backlot, where the market was staged; and two restored centuries-old residences downtown.

The filmmakers created Kidd’s San Antonio residence at a 200-year-old home that features Spanish-Pueblo Revival-style adobe architecture, known as El Zaguán. Its adjacent section of Canyon Road was transformed into the dirt-covered side street where we see Kidd’s approach.

Another key location was the downtown law office of Kidd’s attorney, Mr. Branholme. This was captured at the 1890-era Delgado House, which, like El Zaguán, had been donated to the Historic Santa Fe Foundation to ensure its preservation.

The final location on the schedule was an old school on the outskirts of Santa Fe, which was transformed into the grounds of San Antonio’s famed San Fernando Cathedral.

Director and co-writer Paul Greengrass, center, with crew members on the set of “News of the World.” (Bruce W. Talamon/Universal Pictures)

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