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On Location with “Bad Turn Worse”

Directors Zeke and Simon Hawkins on the thrill of filming in South Texas

When it came time to film their debut directorial effort, Bad Turn Worse, brothers Zeke and Simon Hawkins didn’t just conjure up a South Texas landscape, they actually moved there.

The movie, which is based on a story by Dutch Southern and Justin Duprie, takes place in a Texas town where three young friends (played here by Mackenzie Davis, Logan Huffman and Jeremy Allen White) find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Lucky for the directors, Duprie had more than just a story, he had access to the sort of spaces they needed. 

“We filmed a cotton gin, and that was Justin’s family’s cotton gin; we filmed a bunch of farms, and those were all his friends’ family’s farms,” Zeke explains.

The Hawkins brothers on set

The Hawkins brothers on set

The landscape of the area, the brothers explain, turned out to be ideal for their film.

“It was so flat you can’t even believe it,” Zeke says. “You could see for miles and miles in either direction, and I think that immediately puts your characters out in the middle of nowhere and gives you a sense that they’re out on their own.”

And then, of course, there were the windmills.

“There are these crazy big windmills that are everywhere down there, and you kind of assume when you shoot outside that the windmills will be in the frame and that you’re always going to see windmills,” Simon says. “But, we found that even indoors we’d always see windmills like through a window, or when you’d shoot in a car, you’d somehow see a windmill in the rearview mirror.  You couldn’t even escape the windmills when you thought you couldn’t see them.”

Zeke Simon on a hill

Zeke and Simon

And despite the inescapable presence of the windmills, the brothers say spending more than two months in Texas was an ideal way for them to work on their first feature film.

“We were both really excited at the idea of just going to South Texas for a few months and shooting a movie,” Simon says. “It wasn’t a place we had ever spent much time in, and I think just going down there, and immersing ourselves into their world was a really cool idea.”