Behind the Scenes with Twisted X

Time to read 4 min

It’s 6am under purple-blue skies as the solemn quiet of the Grapevine Vintage Train Station begins to fade into the din of sleepy footsteps and car doors opening and closing in the process of unloading a film set. The air is humid and heavy with the aroma of coffee and the feeling of anticipation for what the day holds.

For the past two years, Twisted X® has brought to life a fresh take on western industry advertising. The first three installments starring world renowned rodeo athletes Shad Mayfield and Shelby Boisjoli are a tip of the hat to the epic cowboys of the past infused with a light and jovial humor that lets consumers know, Twisted X may be serious about comfortable footwear, but not too serious to have a bit of fun. In a continuation of the successful series, this year’s story places Shad and Shelby back in front of the camera, but this time, for a train heist.

As daybreaks, the set begins to take shape, and the cast and crew work against the clock to transform a modern-day train station into an 1800’s era time warp. By now a wakefulness has bubbled up, and we descend into creative chaos as our beloved production company, Cinema Story, shouts directives back and forth across the train platform, and our team transforms a foreman house into a dressing room. Twisted X may boast a nationwide presence, but at the end of the day we function as a family, and this day is no exception – employees and friends-turned-extras are scattered across the set, clothed head to toe in period-accurate costumes, breakfast in hand, waiting to be called up for the first shot.

Behind the Scenes
Behind the Scenes

Inside the train car, the crew works furiously, replacing carpet, erecting an intricate rigging system, and squeezing by one another down cramped aisles to execute the highly anticipated “shoe gag.” Finally, we hear the Assistant Director, Bri, call for the first shot and we’re off. Shad and Shelby arrive on scene shortly after and are ushered into hair and makeup- their reunion with the team feels like one of old friends.

By the afternoon, the lingering heat and humidity of a Texas October has the whole cast sweating in the train cars, so we designate runners to hand waters to them through the windows. Shad and Shelby are in full character now, committed to their roles as actors, somehow still finessing their roping throws in the tight space of the aisle. They keep us all entertained between takes, Shelby with her infectious fits of laughter, and Shad, in his own world, nonchalantly getting lost strumming a ukulele in the middle of a shot. Matching this synergy, our story’s villain, Willie Mellina, our only bonafide actor on set, effortlessly pulls all the stops for us. Whether it’s hanging upside down from a bar for minutes at a time or holding another person’s feet in dangerously close range to his face; his goofy can-do demeanor is present on and off camera, and we couldn’t be more pleased.

To keep the schedule moving, our day is punctuated by Bri’s authoritative shouts of time stamps, one that Director Shane Reitzammer, and Director of Photography Joey Nicotra take in stride, pushing back when they see more potential for a shot. It’s a tense and fast paced dance, but one that is intimately understood by its participants.

Meanwhile, outside the stuffy confines of the train, Videographer Jared works to capture some magic hidden in candid moments- he conducts impromptu interviews with the cast and strikes gold. CMO Tricia Mahoney tells him “I’m really excited because I feel like the story for the brand has evolved this year, we’ve got cool gags happening, we’ve got lots of characters, lots of movement,” expertly summarizing our team’s hopes for the day.

Behind the scenes
Behind the Scenes

He even manages to sprinkle in some “Office-style” humor, trying to catch extras off guard with some mock-serious questions. When he asks Scott Sanders, Twisted X’s IT Technician, if he has ever been on a film set, Sanders assures he is well equipped, having stumbled into the backgrounds of TikToks on occasion.

When Jared finally makes his way to Willie, Mellina immediately turns the attention to his Twisted X Tech X™ boots as if he was a professional spokesperson and threatens not to return them- we can’t tell if he’s still in character.

The best part of these long days is everyone’s willingness; willingness to sit for hours guarding lighting equipment (a special thank you to CIO Thomas Chow and CFO Jeff Jones) or to be planted in a train-car-turned-sauna, or going on emergency supplies runs, or doing impromptu interviews, or literally sprinting down a parking lot to flag down catering. No matter the task, each person, regardless of title, is eager to contribute without hesitation and it keeps the atmosphere electric- this singular focus to bring something meaningful to life, together. Sure, it may be a light-hearted ad spot at the end of the day, but it represents the spirit of something larger; a group of people pouring themselves into a project celebratory of the western industry, the footwear that supports it (literally from the ground up), and the faces of all the individuals whose livelihoods depend on it.

At 6pm, a mere 12 hours later, applause fills the train car that has become our homebase as Director Shane Reitzammer announces a wrap. As we start to pack up, and that sweet sense of tired accomplishment lingers, the heavy clouds that had passed intermittently throughout the day finally give way, as if having waited for this moment, and we soon find ourselves in a deluge. This is the sort of rain that one resigns to just embrace and give way to laughter. It harkens back to the sort of work that must happen no matter what the skies bring- work that plenty of men and women still faithfully carry out today, work that Twisted X hopes to support and celebrate for generations to come, and work that can continue to be done when you’re able to put in a full day without the aches and pains that come with uncomfortable boots.