Butler County Times Gazette
  • Filmmakers tell story of Bender family

  • A film crew is shooting scenes for The Bender Claim at a quiet farm setting north of El Dorado.
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  • A quiet farm setting north of El Dorado was recreated as the scene of some 1870s multiple murders this week as a film crew began shooting scenes for The Bender Claim.
    Independent film maker John Alexander had been looking for a film to make based on a true story with one twist, he wanted a western element to it.
    A friend of his told him about the Benders from Kansas and he was intrigued.
    Alexander, the director, and Julie-Claire Guest researched the topic and wrote the script together.
    Then Guest began looking for locations to shoot the movie, which brought them to Butler County.
    “I had been scouting the area and identified this as an area we could shoot,” she said.
    She then began looking in the phone book for people who lived in the area and found David Stackley, who lives north of El Dorado.
    “David showed us all around Butler County,” she said.
    After the tour, they decided Stackley’s ranch was the best setting for their film. They began filming there Wednesday and will remain in the area for a couple of weeks.
    Prior to this they had shot some of their scenes at Old Cowtown in Wichita.
    Guest said the scenes being shot outside El Dorado are of the Bender claim.
    “This is where it all happens,” she said.
    After shooting, it will take at least a year to complete the movie, then they will be taking it to a variety of film festivals in hopes of it getting picked up by a distributor.
    The Benders actually lived in Labette County. According to the story, in the early 1870s the homesteading family would lure travelers along the Osage Trail inside with a warm supper but never let them go.
    By the time they were suspected and people learned of their crimes, the family had disappeared.
    Some notable cast members include James Karen, a veteran Hollywood and theater actor; Leslie Woodies, an actor, singer and dancer; Nicole Jellen, a theater actor; Jon Monastero, an actor from Nebraska; Grace McKeaney, a screenwriter, playwright, producer and actress; Linda Purl, a singer and actress; Bruce Davison, actor and director; and Chance Caeden, a young actor from Wichita.
    Alexander has been making films since he was a child in Santa Monica, Calif., and has been involved in many aspects of filmmaking from writing, producing and directing to editing and acting.
    He has made dozens of short films and worked on several features.
    Guest has worked as a production coordinator, costume designer and artist assistant.
    Page 2 of 2 - She produced several short films in college, where she studied English and art.
    They are in need of lodging for some of the cast and crew, and would welcome any support in of food and drink while they are filming. Contact 828-301-4322 or julieclaireguest @gmail.com.
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