Telling tales from the open range and the silver screen: Quest guest speaker will delight audiences
By Dave Wilson, corporate partnerships
Artist, photographer, and movie and TV film crew veteran Jim Hatzell will be the special guest at the 18th annual Quest for the West® Art Show and Sale.
Active in motion pictures, television shows and commercials since 1989, Hatzell is known for his detailed and authentic representations of the American West. Hatzell has experience on both sides of the camera, including performing, set dressing and design, wrangling live animals, casting extras and making wardrobe and props look authentic.
He has worked on more than 75 Western movies and TV projects including Dances with Wolves, Far and Away, TNT’s Gettysburg, Wyatt Earp, Geronimo: An American Legend, Thunderheart, Rough Riders, Ride With the Devil and Hidalgo. He served as an advisor on 1883, the prequel to the hit TV series, Yellowstone.
A graduate of the American Academy of Art in his native Chicago, Hatzell moved to Rapid City, South Dakota, in 1981. After a stint fixing B-52 bombers and a job with the railroad, he started working full-time as a freelance artist in 1987.
Hired as a re-enactor on the Academy Award-winning movie Dances with Wolves in 1989, Hatzell sketched every day on set, capturing extras, cast and crew in images that would later be used in Dakota Epic, a memoir by Bill Markley and a firsthand account of making the famous film from an extra’s point of view.
In 1996, Hatzell became the director of the Artist Ride in South Dakota where artists could photograph or sketch 19th-century Western scenes as they were recreated by actors and models in authentic dress. Photo shoots included diverse landscapes and involved horses, weapons and other authentic, period-related equipment that could be referenced by artists to help them create their Western art.
During Quest for the West® opening weekend, guests will get to enjoy tales told by Hatzell about his experiences working as an advisor on film and television projects to ensure the Old West we see on screen today is authentically presented. As a public speaker, Hatzell brings a wealth of stories about Hollywood Westerns and the actors who appeared in them — including an interesting anecdote about Jimmy Stewart — that Quest audiences will enjoy.
Jim Hatzell will speak at the Eiteljorg during events at 6:30 p.m. Friday evening Sept. 8 and 11:30 a.m. Saturday Sept. 9; see quest.eiteljorg.org for details and reservations.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the June 2023 issue of Storyteller magazine.