The West wasn’t always won by a bunch of gunslingers.

In Trinidad, it was a 22-year-old nun named Sister Blandina Segale who helped bring peace to the mining town after arriving in 1872. And now father and son filmmakers and Phil Long Enterprise CEO Jay Cimino want to tell her story in “Trinidad,” a multiseason historical drama.

“What I’ve never seen before is a woman at the center of a Western who has that much influence in a town and doesn’t do it with guns,” said “Trinidad” scriptwriter Brendan Fitzgerald.

“She doesn’t do it in the traditional way you’re used to seeing in a Western. She does it behind the scenes with craft, brilliance, charm and utter bravery. She’s a remarkable person.”

The project has big names attached, such as Robin Wright, who starred in and directed “House of Cards” and directed “Ozark,” both on Netflix. She’s set to direct and executive produce the first season of “Trinidad.” Also on board are Regina Corrado, a writer for the HBO Western drama, “Deadwood,” and novelist and screenplay writer Francesca Marciano.

A cast won’t be finalized until a start date is announced, but producer Michael Fitzgerald says they have actors in mind.

About $10 million to $15 million is still needed for the $30 million project. Filmmakers hope to attract investors and complete production this year.

They also intend to build and film in a Western town on a piece of land near Trinidad — a large-scale infrastructure modeled after the town’s original downtown. Including the central buildings, corrals, miners’ tents and other temporary structures, the set will be about 500 feet by 800-feet, plus dirt roads leading into and out of the town.

The new framework will allow southern Colorado to compete for future motion pictures and TV shows set in the West, and potentially bring a boon of economic benefits to the state.

Many of the country’s Western films are shot at the 15 to 20 Western movie sets that already exist in New Mexico.

“It’s become a huge industry and enormously profitable for the state (New Mexico),” said “Trinidad” producer Michael Fitzgerald, “which has now taken a monopoly on the making of films in the Southwest. Why not Colorado?”

A study published this month by Denver Arts & Venues and Colorado Creative Industries found employment in Colorado’s film industry grew faster (43%) than the national film industry (30%) and faster than all Colorado employment growth (21%) between 2011 and 2019.

“But a lack of investment in infrastructure, support programs and incentives has made it difficult for members of Colorado’s film industry to grow their projects, companies and careers. These challenges were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in more job losses in Colorado’s film industry than in the industry nationally, underscoring both the need and opportunity for Denver and Colorado’s leaders to invest in Colorado filmmaking,” a news release on the study said.

Despite being born and raised in Trinidad, Cimino didn’t become acquainted with the story of Sister Blandina until decades later, and eventually relayed the historical tale to Brendan and his father, Michael, a longtime film producer whose credits include “Wise Blood,” “Under the Volcano,” “The Pledge,” “Colour Me Kubrick” and “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.”

Sister Blandina, one of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, traveled the Santa Fe Trail to southern Colorado, where she encountered Billy the Kid, Geronimo and others.

During her almost decade in the small town, she stopped lynch mobs, helped criminals seek forgiveness from their victims, and defended Native Americans and Mexicans, all while establishing Colorado’s first school district, School District No. 1, which still exists. And now, all these years later, she’s being considered for canonization by the Vatican.

The show is loosely based on real people and historical events, including “At the End of the Santa Fe Trail,” a book of journal entries the nun kept during her time in Trinidad. The series will take place from 1872 to 1878, during the years when the railroad arrived and Colorado entered statehood.

“We really want to focus on the women in the town,” Brendan said. “They were extraordinary women, including the first known woman to enlist in the U.S. Army — Cathay Williams. She was a Buffalo Soldier after the Civil War. She enlisted as a man and they didn’t know she was a woman until she left the army. She ended up in Trinidad after that.”

Cimino has invested millions of dollars in his hometown, including renovating about 15 historical buildings and opening Mount Carmel Wellness and Community Center in 2021. He’s building a Hilton Garden Inn.

“Sister Blandina and the 400 nuns who were there really left us a gift,” Cimino said.

“And it was a gift we didn’t realize. I didn’t realize that gift had ever been given to us until I left town and became a car dealer.”

Contact the writer: 636-0270

Contact the writer: 636-0270

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