Slusher lands role in ‘When the Storm God Rides’Written by Morgan Delp | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Many Toledoans know Bruce Slusher as the former weather anchor for FOX Toledo, where he worked for six years. Many others in the area know him as the “horse whisperer.”
Soon, people all across the country will know him as “Jason” from the upcoming independent Western film, “When the Storm God Rides.” The film will be produced by Storm God Studios, LLC and directed by Michael Preece, whose filmography includes such popular television series as “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “MacGyver” and “Dallas.”
“I love Westerns,” Preece said. “I’ve worked on a lot before I started directing and I’ve done a couple series during that (directing) period. The revenge story is nice and the script isn’t ready to be shot yet, but the story is good.”
Slusher will play a bad guy in the movie scheduled to begin filming Sept. 14 for about 28 days, if everything goes according to plan, said Thomas E. Kelly. Kelly is the owner of Storm God Studios and wrote both the script and the book upon which it is based. The film, which has a budget of just under $10 million, will be shot in multiple locations in Texas and Arizona and is scheduled to hit some theaters next summer.
Slusher said the movie aims to bring back the more traditional Western movie.
“I kind of grew up with Westerns and I’m a history buff,” Kelly said. “I’d like to see cowboys and Westerns come back. They’re wholesome if they’re done right. I’m not talking cowboys and aliens, but the real stuff. Hollywood drops millions on productions that aren’t entertaining at all. They’ve gotten into special effects so much … which is exciting, but where’s the story?”
Slusher will contribute to the authenticity of the film as he is an experienced cowboy himself. He teaches classes and gives private lessons on how to work with horses naturally, without forcefulness or pain, to horse owners at his Swanton home. He likes to say he works with “horses with people problems.”
Slusher has seen hundreds of horses over the 15 years he’s been horse-whispering. “Cases that I really find the most rewarding are abused horses that have come from bad situations and someone will rescue them and ask me to help them,” Slusher said. “These are most rewarding because I see how upset these horses are with humans and trying to break through that wall is rewarding.”
Preece and Kelly both said that being comfortable around horses is a must for working in Western films.
“We want people that are good with horses,” Preece said. “I would want everybody to be able to ride. We don’t have stunt doubles for everything, but we also don’t want actors to get hurt, so we have doubles for the [intense horse-riding scenes] … or else we will have to close the movie down. With hats and bandanas, it’s easy to put a double in there.”
“Anybody that’s a cowboy has to be able to ride. And he is a great rider,” said Kelly, speaking of Slusher. “You can’t have people out there doing tricks that don’t know anything about riding, and he will be doing riding scenes.”
Slusher will also have some lines in the movie that includes about 90 actors, not counting extras. Slusher has had experience in news anchoring, acting and voice-over commentary, which he said will help him in his first speaking film role.
“I’m not sure weather in general really prepared me as much as being in front of a camera,” Slusher said. “That made a huge difference in getting the part.”
Slusher didn’t go through a long audition process, but used his experience and mutual connections to land him the role.
“I got the part because I knew a lady who had done a lot of movie work, Westerns in particular, who lives in Arizona,” Slusher said. “I communicated with her on Facebook and she mentioned the movie and said I had to go for it. She put me in touch with Tom and when I told him about my TV and acting experience, he wanted me.”
When Slusher posted the news of his new role on his Facebook page, one of his friends and horse-whispering students Wendy Cartwright jokingly commented, saying to let her know if they needed a cute cowgirl. Kelly saw her comment and replied immediately, asking her to send him her picture and biography. Despite the fact the Cartwright has no acting experience, Kelly called her the next week and offered her a role as a saloon girl. Slusher said he thinks the role is fitting, as she is a bartender at the Sundown Cantina in Sylvania.
“I’m nervous and excited,” Cartwright said. “I think it will be cool and really fun.”
“This could be a stepping stone to something else, and I’m hoping it is, but if it’s not I won’t cry about it,” Slusher said. “It’s something to pursue if the opportunity comes up. I’d like to continue with the Western genre if it’s possible.”