The A.V. Club's "Pop Pilgrims" went back to Marfa, Texas last week to visit McGuire Ranch -- a desolate outpost that provided the backdrop for There Will Be Blood. Director Paul Thomas Anderson spent about nine months shooting Blood in Marfa, overlapping only slightly with the Coen Brothers, who were filming No Country For Old Men in the same locale. Unlike the Coens, however, Anderson shot nearly all of his film at Marfa, and a local man named David Williams was along for every step of the way.
Williams is the manager of McGuire Ranch, located just outside of Marfa. In 2006, he served as a consultant to Anderson and his film crew, providing assistance with logistics, and even appearing in some scenes opposite Daniel Day-Lewis. His most significant contribution, however, was the ranch itself. "There's nothing artificial anywhere around," Williams explained. "It's all natural, and that's what they were looking for at this ranch." For Anderson, it was love at first sight: "As soon as he saw it in person he said, 'This is the place.'"
With that decision, Anderson and his crew began constructing sets across the ranch, creating a turn-of-the-century universe in a matter of months. Today, only the church and train depot remain intact; McGuire's owners decided to demolish the other buildings after the state began taxing them. Here's how the A.V. Club's Kyle Ryan described the scene today:
And standing on one of the many vistas on McGuire Ranch--watching javelinas root around in some bushes--that vast emptiness is especially striking. There's nothing around for miles and miles. Even crazier, much of what you see to the horizon is all part of the same ranch. McGuire Ranch has so many different areas that it effectively functions like a (giant) studio backlot, with numerous options for different settings. It took us all afternoon to drive to the various There Will Be Blood locations; although all were contained on McGuire Ranch, some were separated by miles of land.
To read the A.V. Club's full article, click here.