Ren Faire’s Darla, Jeff and Louie in HBO’s The Real-Life Heir and King George

When Lance Oppenheim first went to Todd Mission, Texas to record George Coulam, The eccentric 86-year-old founder of the Texas Renaissance Festival and the battle for inheritance of the kingdom he created, the filmmaker conceived of the project as a comedy.

“The first thing George told me was that he used to play king at the fair, and now he’s a horny old man,” Oppenheim said, explaining that it was exciting to find a subject who didn’t censor himself. in front of the lens. . “A lot of people around him said don’t do this. So he invited us into his life for almost three years.”

However, at the end of that period, Oppenheim announced the resulting documentary series—a trilogy Ren Faire, ended Sunday — no longer qualifies as a comedy. “It became a tragedy,” he said. “And I think that’s consistent with the reality that exists there.”

IN Ren Faire, Coulam announced that he wanted to retire to focus on art, gardening, and “pursuing pussy.” But the series ended after Coulam had insulted His staff time and time again, spiked what the general manager Darla Smith claims to be a perfectly good offer to buy the carnival and reveals that he’s more interested in power than a payday. (“That kind of power isn’t much different than addiction,” Smith says in the docu-series.) The New York Times is known as programme “Inheritance with kettle corn,” in the face of backstabbing from potential successors—Smith, a lieutenant with decades of experience Jeff Baldwin, and Red Bull – kettle corn king and ren-faire entrepreneur Louie Migliaccio—and the way the show’s gruff patriarch toyed with his potential successors over his athletic looks.

When Oppenheim, a 28-year-old documentary filmmaker, directed Some kind of paradise, showed Coulam the first episode, the filmmaker said, “He couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. Even in the darkest moments, he still smiled.”

During the phone call with Smith, the only person Ren Faire wanting to escape Coulam’s clutches, she told me, “Most fairies are pretty crazy. But honestly, George had the biggest feats and he had the craziest.”

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Darla Smith in Ren Faire.

Courtesy of HBO.

Belong to Ren FaireAs potential successors go, Smith has the clearest and most candid eye on Coulam — perhaps because she has the least to lose. Although she has worked in lace fairs for about 30 years, she has not invested decades of her life and/or business directly into Coulam’s TRF like Baldwin and Migliaccio. In fact, after starting with TRF in 2020, Smith tried to stay away from Oppenheim’s cameras until Coulam promoted her to general manager and pushed her directly into the line of succession and special is in competition with Baldwin.

When asked what she thought of the documentary series, Smith responded candidly. “I think it’s too Jeff-centric,” she laughs. Speaking of his former colleague, a semi-professional actor turned entertainment director, who shaped the festival’s King Learshe added, “But Jeff is a comedian, so he just jumps into the camera whenever he gets the chance.”

Migliaccio is in no danger of stealing the spotlight. This businessman is busy running the lively kingdom he has created within the walls of TRF, which includes Dragonslayer Souvenirs, Champion Rickshaw, Da Vinci Dots Ice Cream and Wyrmwood Public House on business. his kettle corn business and manages a team that he says includes 160 people. Because Migliaccio is such a private and agile person, his backstory is difficult to grasp.

“The challenge of filming with him was like, How do we match the ferocity of the way he moves?” Oppenheim laughed loudly. “Especially when my cinematographer, Nate Hurtseller, operating a 60-pound camera in hundreds of degrees of weather.” (Indeed, the only time I was able to speak to Migliaccio on the phone was when he was forced by law to sit in a chair—on a taxiing plane moments before takeoff—and that time lasts less than a minute.)

Coulam also had difficulty filming and refused to direct. Oppenheim said he would not stop looking at the camera no matter how many times he was asked. (When his manicurist looked into the camera, however, Coulam immediately reprimanded her.) He also didn’t give the filmmakers the luxury of staging a shot. “It was always: ‘Get your ugly ass in here,’ ‘shut up and sit down,’ and ‘let’s go.'” Every time we put the microphone on him, he complained that we takes too much time.


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