KINGMAN - Mark Maggiori had a purpose in mind when he moved to Kingman two months ago.
Maggiori, 36, a painter and film director from France, had discovered the perfect location to produce music videos and short films. The region's warm, sunny weather was ideal for him, as was its exotic desert scenery. Also, he had no problem finding hard-working crew members and extras who have the same entertainment vision as Maggiori.
"I was in Hollywood for five years dealing with the people there and I just got tired of it," said Maggiori. "Their mentality doesn't fit in with how I make my videos and films, because I put my heart and soul into it instead of worrying about whether I'm working one minute overtime. We're starting small here, but we're going to grow."
In 2008, Maggiori was scouting a location for European singer and songwriter Charlie Winston, who needed a music video for "Like a Hobo," a single from his platinum debut album "Hobo." Maggiori got a chance to visit Chloride with his wife, Petecia Lefawnhawk, who grew up in the area, and fell in love with the small cowboy town that soon became the background for the video.
Chloride also served as the backdrop for "Johnny Christ," Maggiori's 2010 film that tells the story of Larry Dagger, an ex-demolition derby driver trying to support his family.
As Dagger drives home one night, he finds Johnny lying in the road and brings him home so his wife, Vera, can care for his wounds. Johnny convinces Dagger to return to the derby, and as Dagger begins building a car, Johnny and Vera have an affair. The movie was entered in the Cannes International Film Festival this year.
Other music videos and films include a music video for the French band Poney Express in 2009 and a short film entitled "Envenomed." The film is about a veteran who returns home after fighting in the Iraq War and finds himself jobless, single and depressed. As he considers killing himself, he meets a young girl whose mother has died and she asks him for help. His response helps both her and him. Golden Valley resident Wesley Harger, 26, starred as the veteran.
"I'm like an apprentice and Mark is teaching me all about filmmaking," said Harger, who also builds props and runs sound.
Harger met Maggiori in a bar in Kingman after his "Envenomed" star backed out and, after sharing his problem and having a one-hour rehearsal, they shot the film. "I like this work because it's not a boring 9-to-5 job every day. It keeps me on my toes and it's just plain cool."
In November, Maggiori finished filming "Apollo," a music video for the French band Ruby Cube. The video tells the story of five Amish girls who, tired of their strict everyday life, steal a car from Walmart, get drunk and meet a reclusive man who has built an unidentified flying object on his desert property. The man convinces the girls, wearing their traditional black bonnets and long dresses, that he can send the UFO into space, and they enter it, holding hands in anticipation. Instead of taking off, the UFO blows up with the girls inside.
Chloride resident Kirk Slack, 51, who has served as Maggiori's producer since he came to the area, spent a week building the UFO, which measured 10 feet wide by 8 foot tall. He used polyvinyl chloride pipe to frame the UFO and covered it with aluminum from old trailers and duct tape.
Slack towed the creation on a trailer hooked to the back of a truck to Grasshopper Junction, about four miles from Chloride, and set it up for the music video's final explosive scene.
"It was quite a sight and looked really strange," said Slack. "We had the five Amish girls in costume riding in the back of the truck and the UFO following them. There was a sheriff's officer behind us and he just went by, looked at us and smiled. That's what's nice about Mohave County. You can do a lot of things here that you can't do in other places."
The group just finished another short film this week, entitled "The Blue Lady," a tender, sad love story about a woman and a 1937 blue Harley Davidson owned by Kingman resident Greg Mack. The film tells the story of an older woman finally letting go of the motorcycle after years of parking it in her garage.
The bike found its way to her years ago after her boyfriend, Joe, and a friend, Willy, were shot dead by Joe's boss. The men tried to steal the motorcycle after the boss reneged on his promise to give Joe the bike in exchange for working cheap at an auto shop.
Kingman resident Rob Butner, 27, played the woman's son selling the motorcycle for his mother, who was portrayed by Linda Henry of Chloride. Slack discovered Henry shopping at Digger Dave's in Chloride and approached her about the part.
The film will be shown at various film festivals in France.
Maggiori said he plans to create more music videos and films, and is looking for extras and crew, including a make-up artist and set designer.
For more information or to apply, contact Maggiori by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mark.maggiori.