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In Buzzards Roost, a happy ending's hard to find

Filmmakers Jon Wolding, left, and Brandon Windish pose at a San Antonio barn they found perfect for a movie about an old man who hates trick-or-treaters and the kids who bedevil him.

MIKE PEASE | Times

Filmmakers Jon Wolding, left, and Brandon Windish pose at a San Antonio barn they found perfect for a movie about an old man who hates trick-or-treaters and the kids who bedevil him.

SAN ANTONIO — Overgrown orange groves and dense forest line the winding road that leads to Buzzards Roost.

Big black birds circle over the white peeling walls and dark-shingled roof of the two-story home, casting shadows on a yard thick with shin-high thorny weeds.

Here, an 89-year-old woman lives on almost 40 acres, alone except for dozens of donkeys, dogs and miniature horses.

When Brandon Windish first saw Buzzards Roost, he knew he had found the perfect location to film his suspense film.

"It's ridiculously cinematic property," he said Tuesday morning.

But by evening, his hopes were dashed.

Windish, 24, stumbled upon Buzzards Roost in February. He was searching east Pasco for a place he could film his movie about an old man who hates trick-or-treaters and the town kids who terrorize him.

Looking at Buzzards Roost for the first time, he got the feeling that something was about to happen. When he slammed his car door, a dozen black feathery bodies took off from the roof of the house.

Windish was entranced.

"To me, this is a historical landmark," he said. "It's this crazy donkey farm and it's beautiful."

He titled the film Buzzards Roost and tweaked the story line to accommodate the tin-roofed red barn and dozens of farm animals on the lot.

He hired a buzzard wrangler, trained birds and even bought a robotic buzzard.

But thanks to a doctor's orders, he'll have to find another spot to film.

Josephine Tejera lives in the five-bedroom house on Buzzards Roost and spends her days taking care of her donkeys, miniature horses, goats and dogs.

She says it's hard work, but "not if you like it."

About three weeks ago, Windish showed up at her door with his partner at Ground Up Films in Ybor City, Jon Wolding.

"I didn't pay much attention to it. I figured it would be one of those things and nothing would come of it," she said. "I was wrong. They were very persistent."

Tejera was lukewarm to the idea. But in the end, it was her doctor who said the filming, set to take place in early May, would be too much for the 89-year-old. The Buzzards Roost location was out.

"I had a quick little nuclear meltdown, had a cigarette and then I moved on," Windish said.

Now, it's back to the drawing board. Today, Windish and Wolding will hit the road again, searching for the next Buzzards Roost.

"Everything on this production has been so serendipitous. … I feel like we'll end up lucking into a new location, just like this one," Windish said.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (352) 521-6518.

In Buzzards Roost, a happy ending's hard to find 04/15/08 [Last modified: Friday, April 18, 2008 10:21am]
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