An Interview with Dr. David Hurst Thomas

I am excited to share with you a production update for the Hidden Cave Video Project! The film crew and I recently journeyed to Hidden Cave to interview key researcher and American Museum of Natural History Curator of North American Archaeology, Dr. David Hurst Thomas.

Over the course of two field excavation seasons—1979 and 1980—Dr. Thomas guided crews of researchers in excavating Hidden Cave near Fallon, NV [1]. Research from these field seasons along with the re-analysis of excavation materials found in prior digs led to the discovery that the cave was used as a storage location for food, tools, and other materials [2}.

Featured are exterior and interior photos of the cave. Photo credit Winter Carrera.

Upon arriving to Hidden Cave and making base camp, archaeologists Jim Carter and Rachel Crews from the Bureau of Land Management and Churchill County Museum Administrator Donna Cossette greeted us.

Filming on location is amazing and an important contextual component to bringing a film to life. It’s also an added bonus to venture away from a production office or studio and experience a filming location with crew and in person.

However, one of the most interesting aspects of location filming is the unique challenge that it may sometime bring. Hidden Cave was no different. It presented both logistical and technical camera lighting obstacles due to the cave’s natural dim lighting and its ¼ mile location from base camp. A camera needs light to capture beautiful images and it was something that we needed to tackle.

With our line of attack in hand and loads of enthusiasm, we strategically hiked our weighty camera equipment along the rugged desert hillside path leading to the cave.

“Generator sherpas” shows Mark (Director of Photography) and Joe (Production Assistant) diligently hauling the generator down from the cave after the shoot. That thing was heavy! –Rachel Crews, Archaeologist. Photo credits (L-R) Donna Cossette and Ray Silva.

“I never realized the amount of preparation needed to be ready for an efficient and professional film shoot.  It was impressive to see everyone making many trips up and down the hillside with heavy equipment and supplies in hot, sunny weather.  Everyone had a great attitude, which made the work much more fun.  This film is the result of years of planning and effort by many people, and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in what has to be the most exciting part – filming on location!”-Rachel Crews

“Film test” is a picture from Day 1 showing the film test in the cave with Jim Carter sitting in for D.H.T. -Rachel Crews. Photo 2 features Jim Carter and Beth from the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) assisting with film preparation. Photo credits (L-R) Rachel Crews and Donna Cossette.

With questions prepared, HD camera readied, water and snacks prepped and excitement fueled by eager anticipation for the first interview, we were set to roll camera.

Featured is Dr. Thomas and Winter Carrera (Producer) discussing film preparation. The second photo featured is Ray Silva (Production Sound Mixer), Mark Gandolfo and Dr. Thomas filming “b-roll” inside the cave. Photo credit (L-R) Hidden Cave Crew and Winter Carrera.

“How could thirty years have flown by since my crew and I were excavating at Hidden Cave? But it’s true and last week, I was privileged to return to that amazing site to work with the Hidden Cave Video Project. Orchestrating a video shoot reminds me of operating an archaeological dig—with plenty of moving parts and a diverse team focused on a single goal. I have every confidence that the Hidden Cave Video Project is producing a film that will vividly illustrate why Hidden Cave remains such a unique and valuable link to Nevada’s deep historical past.” – Dr. David Hurst Thomas

After two days of filming and a tremendous amount of team work by all involved, the first phase of the project was wrapped.

Behind the scenes images from the film shoot. Photo credits (Top-Bottom) Hidden Cave Crew and Mark Gandolfo.

Thanks for reading and check back often for new content as we continue with the project!

-Winter Carrera, Producer

Dr. David Hurst Thomas
Bureau of Land Management
Churchill County Museum
Nevada Department of Transportation
University of Nevada, Reno
TLT and Mathewson IGT-Library Administration Staff
Hidden Cave July Crew – Mark, Jim, Rachel, Donna & daughter, Ray, Joe, Beth, and Mike


  1. Thomas, David Hurst
    1985. The archaeology of Hidden Cave, Nevada. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, vol 61, part 1, pp. 1-430.
  2. “Hidden Cave, NV”. American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
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Posted in Interviews, Production Updates

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