Chickasaw Nation Chooses Playa Location for Film Project

(Willcox) When members of the Chickasaw Nation scouted the Willcox Playa next to the Apache Generating Station (AGS) as a possible location for the film they wanted to shoot, they knew they’d found the perfect spot.

“This video is going to be used for promotional use, to help motivate our warriors,” said Tom Hulbutta, creative director for the Chickasaw Nation.

“It’s about transformation, becoming free, and we want to show the warrior spirit, so that’s why we’re here, shooting in this beautiful landscape,” Hulbutta said.

The Chickasaw Nation ( is a Native American tribe with its nation headquarters in Ada, Oklahoma, and has about 50,000 tribal members.

The film that was shot on the playa next to AGS will be used as a motivational and promotional video for tribal health-related programs, and the visual theme involved tribal Warriors, chained to the ground, who break free of their chains and move to a better life – an “Unconquered Life.”

“They go through an awakening and a self-realization, and they find this freedom – and that’s kind of what U.L. (Unconquered Life) is about,” Hulbutta said.

Hulbutta said anyone can benefit from the message and the metaphor.

“It’s about becoming a warrior, seeing your inner spirit, living your life free, becoming healthier, improving all areas of life, from personal finances, to health, to a true sense of wellbeing,” Hulbutta said.

“This is to motivate our people, and show them metaphorically and symbolically what you can do if you really take advantage of your life becoming free,” Hulbutta said.

Tim Flood, a freelance film scout and location manager based in Tucson who has helped film companies find locations throughout Arizona, said the project was exciting for several reasons, including the fact that it brings a boost to the local economy – with the possibility that others may follow.

“It creates a direct positive economic impact. They hired about 20 people, 15 of whom stayed in Willcox hotels, ate at area restaurants, and bought supplies in local grocery and hardware stores,” Flood said.

Most of the actors were from the Tucson area, he said.

Flood said projects like this can lead to interest from other film companies – and he does his part to promote the area whenever a lead comes his way.

“This was really a great project, a great shoot that went extremely well, your people were great as well,” Flood said.

AzGT employees Jerry Ellis and Keith Jacobs helped with site access and accompanied the crew and actors while they were on the site.

Hulbutta also recognized the work by AzGT employees that helped make the shoot go off without a hitch.

“I think the Arizona G&T Cooperatives really saw our vision and shared what we were trying to do, I think the cooperative really cares about what is shot here, so it was good to know that we had the same vision for this,” Hulbutta said.