Footage for new film shot along San Juan River

Mike Easterling
Jake Chavez, owner of Majestic Enchantment, stands for a photo on Tuesday at his business in Blanco. Director Terrence Malick shot footage for his documentary "Voyage of Time" on Chavez's property more than four years ago.
  • "Voyage of Time" opened last week at IMAX theaters, and a version for regular theaters is due out in 2017.
  • Scenes for the film were shot in 2012 at Majestic Enchantment in Blanco.
  • Owner Jacob Chavez says a film crew visited his property and may have also shot scenes at the Shiprock pinnacle and the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness.
  • Russell Allen of Allen Theatres Inc. says he hopes to eventually show the new film in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — It took more than four years, but footage shot in the Blanco area in 2012 by famed Hollywood director Terrence Malick has finally made its way on to the big screen — the very big screen.

“Voyage of Time,” a new documentary by Malick, opened on Friday at IMAX theaters around the country. That version is 45 minutes in length and is narrated by Brad Pitt. A 90-minute version intended for regular theaters is narrated by Cate Blanchett and is due out in 2017.

The film is likely to draw the attention of local movie fans because some of its scenes were shot at Majestic Enchantment, Fly Fishing on The San Juan River, a Blanco-based business owned by Jacob Chavez. Chavez said Malick, producer Sarah Green and a film crew visited the site in May 2012 and spent a day roaming the property and shooting footage for the film, which Malick reportedly has been working on for 40 years.

Chavez said he had been approached by a location scout for the filmmakers several months earlier who had found the fly-fishing business via its website. An in-person visit by the scout sealed the deal, he said.

“They liked our property,” Chavez said. “A couple of days later, they said they would do it.”

“Voyage of Time” relates the story of the universe from the Big Bang to its demise. USA Today’s Bryan Alexander describes the film as featuring “out-of-this-world imagery” and says wide-angle shots capture scenes ranging from oceans to Hawaiian volcano eruptions.

The film could have a strong local influence. Chavez said it was his understanding that Malick and his crew also visited such sites as the Shiprock pinnacle and the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, along with White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico, to shoot footage.

Chavez said he didn’t know whether any of those scenes wound up in either version of the film, but he said it was his understanding that Malick was interested in contrasting those stark desert scenes with the footage shot at his verdant property.

“They found paradise on earth right here in Blanco,” Chavez said.

Jake Chavez, owner of Majestic Enchantment Fly Fishing, walks along a portion of his property on Tuesday. Director Terrence Malick shot footage for his documentary "Voyage of Time" at the Blanco business in 2012

Chavez was bound by a confidentiality agreement he had signed not to talk about the film until it opened last week. Once freed from that restriction, he said it was an honor to have Malick — a highly regarded director who has helmed such films as “The Thin Red Line,” “Badlands,” “Days of Heaven,” “The New World” and “The Tree of Life” — visit his business and shoot part of his latest film there.

“It was a privilege they kind of found me,” Chavez said. “They really appreciated our place because there were no structures.”

Chavez said he got to spend a fair amount of time with the director, as Malick was interested in hearing about the layout of the property and what to expect about what the light would be like in certain areas at different times of the day.

The IMAX version of the film is not being shown anywhere locally. But when the longer version is released sometime next year, Russell Allen of Allen Theatres Inc. said he hopes to show it in Farmington.

“It’s a documentary, so it’s not a mainstream film,” he said. “So it’s hard to get it.”

Allen said the company would try to book the film for its weekly “Hump Day” series, when smaller, independent films are presented on one screen in the chain’s theaters on Wednesdays.

“We’ll put this on the list to see if we can get it for that time frame,” said Allen, who had not heard of the film before he was alerted to it by a reporter.

But he said it wouldn’t be as simple as just requesting the film from its distributor.

“There’s no way of knowing if it’s something we can get from the company,” he said.

Jake Chavez, owner of Majestic Enchantment Fly Fishing, talks about jewelry displayed in an art museum on his property. Director Terrence Malick shot footage for his documentary "Voyage of Time" at Chavez's property in Blanco.

Chavez not only had not seen the film when it opened last week. In fact, he said he hadn’t heard from anyone associated with “Voyage of Time” since Malick and his crew were here four years ago.

But he was following the progress of the film in online news stories and was delighted when he saw it targeted for Friday's IMAX release. He wonders if it will trigger any interest in his business, which features a disc golf course, an art gallery and three-quarters of a mile of San Juan River frontage.

“I surely hope so,” he said. “I hope it opens the doors to a lot more film industry activity.”

Chavez also is eager to see “Voyage of Time” simply as a movie fan.

“I’m excited to see how it turns out on the big screen,” he said.

Mike Easterling is the A&E editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.