I am always looking for inspiration for the setting and feel of my film. I want the landscape to be vast and monotonous, to symbolise the huge space that wild horses inhabit across America. I recently watched a film that was great for inspiration called ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’. Released in 2018, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is an American western anthology film, directed by the Coen brothers. The film situates itself in an old fashioned mode of the mid west. The film is made up of six tales that each take place in the American frontier. Throughout the film a hand turns pages and we see the stories in print, giving us an insight into what is going to happen in the next tale.

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My favourite part of the film was the opening story of Buster Scruggs, about a lonesome cowboy on a horse singing and strumming his guitar. The cowboy faces showdowns with other cowboys on his journey, yet continues to maintain good humour throughout. The biggest pleasure is the endless sequence of remarkable scenery. Paired perfectly with music that swells and dips like the surrounding landscapes.

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While all chapters of the film take place in the American West, each chapter has a distinct narrative and are set in different western landscape. Todd Christensen, location manager for the film noted “each story required a different look and set of locations. From desert, plains, mountains and towns. Which fit into the late 1800’s era of the film”.

Bonanza Creek Ranch, Eaves Ranch and San Cristobal Ranch in New Mexico were used as western towns for the production. The dramatic landscapes of cliffs and canyons seen throughout the film were found close by to the ranches in Northern New Mexico.

Summer Clouds over Diablo Canyon

The production then headed to Colorado to continue to the shoot in a pristine valley. They used this location to shoot a story about an old man searching for gold. The location for this story was surreal, it looked like a green screen it was that flawless.

The third location was located on ranches around Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Which was perfect for sprawling landscape of endless trail rides.


The film was a perfect example of how important it is to choose the right setting. The setting enhances the mood of the story and also influences the whole feeling of the film.



The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. (2018). [film].

prezi.com. (2019). How Does the Setting of a Story Affect the Mood. [online] Available at: https://prezi.com/149467mwbmtg/how-does-the-setting-of-a-story-affect-the-mood/ [Accessed 9 Feb. 2019].

Thelocationguide.com. (2019). Coen brothers anthology film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs shot in New Mexico, Colorado and Nebraska » The Location Guide. [online] Available at: https://www.thelocationguide.com/2018/11/coen-brothers-anthology-film-the-ballad-of-buster-scruggs-shot-in-new-mexico-colorado-and-nebraska/ [Accessed 9 Feb. 2019].



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