A Casa Grande motel has a starring role in a new thriller.
The Boots & Saddle Motel on West Second Street will be the setting for several scenes in “Coyote Requiem,” a movie that tells the story of a woman who is haunted by the drowning death of her daughter and takes a road trip through the American Southwest and into Mexico.
The film’s producer first approached Boots & Saddle manager Joann Wilson in November and inquired about using the motel as one of the settings in the movie.
“I didn’t hesitate. I said yes right away,” Wilson said.
Crews spent a week filming at the motel in February and several of the movie’s scenes take place in the Boots & Saddle pool.
“The water temperature was 42 degrees when they filmed the pool scenes,” Wilson said.
The cool winter temperatures made shooting some pool scenes difficult and crews returned this week to complete filming.
“It was so cold in the pool last time that they had ambulances standing by just in case,” said Nicole Herold, who plays the character Carmen in the film.
Written and directed by Jason Lehel, the movie stars Kevin McNamara and Herold.
As well as the Boots & Saddle Motel, other scenes in the movie might also be familiar to residents. Filmmakers shot footage in Picacho, Phoenix, Guadalupe, Scottsdale and near the abandoned dome structures on Thornton Road south of Casa Grande. Some scenes were filmed in Mexico.
The movie is the second that Lehel and producer John Gordon have made in Casa Grande.
In 2008, the duo set their movie “Gaia” in Casa Grande and did much of the filming on nearby Native American reservations.
“We loved it here and the people we met,” Gordon said. “When we decided to make a second movie, we knew we wanted to come back to Arizona and shoot some of it in Casa Grande.”
In “Coyote Requiem,” the Boots & Saddle Motel is transformed into a Mexican village.
“As the characters drive into Mexico, they pull into a motel and meet a hitchhiker,” Gordon said. “The Boots and Saddle is the motel in Mexico.”
The Boots & Saddle Motel features a 10-foot-deep pool, and many of the movie’s scenes take part in and around the pool and patio area.
“They brought in their props, and Home Depot helped by lending us some plants,” Wilson said. “It really looked like a Mexican village when they were filming. They even had kids playing soccer in the parking lot.”
Thursday, film producers showed Wilson a few scenes from the movie that feature the motel.
“It’s amazing,” she said.
The Boots & Saddle Motel was built in 1954 and was once busy with tourists and motorists driving along Highway 84, before the days of Interstate 10. But the motel fell into disrepair in the 1970s and ownership changed several times.
“This place once had a terrible reputation,” Wilson said. “The rooms were dirty and there were bugs.”
But in 2008, Wilson took over management of the motel and began renovating the rooms — removing worn-out carpeting, installing tile, replacing furniture, painting interiors and giving the rooms a clean, home-like feel. She also did several renovations to the pool’s patio area.
The motel is now home to several long-term residents.
Wilson said she is looking forward to seeing her name and the Boots & Saddle Motel name in the movie’s final credits.
But Casa Grande residents might have to wait a few years before the movie hits the big screen.
With the independently made film, the makers plan to debut to audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and from there, hopefully catch the attention of a studio.
“We hope the movie gets bought and put into theaters,” Gordon said.