Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a role in upcoming Val Kilmer film ‘Pay Dirt’

Director Christian Sesma had long wanted to work on a gritty and high stakes heist movie inspired by some classics, but he didn’t want it filmed just anywhere — he wanted it filmed in the place where he was born, raised and still lives now: the Coachella Valley.

Naturally, that was the location for his next project, which just wrapped up filming. “Pay Dirt” stars actors Val Kilmer, Luke Goss and Nick Vallelonga. The film is produced by Sesma and “Green Book” actor Mike Hatton.

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“That’s basically what ‘Pay Dirt’ is,” Sesma said. “It’s a really fun, gritty, ‘Smokin’ Aces,’ ‘Oceans 11’ heist movie and where better to do a heist move than in our backyard?”

One of the film’s chosen locations? Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. The Indio resort served as the spot where several of the movie’s big scenes filmed. Filming occurred on the casino’s golf course, gaming floor, a second floor balcony, the resort’s 12th floor and its Lit Lounge.

  • Nick Vallelonga acts in a scene at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio for the new Christian Sesma-directed film “Pay Dirt.” (Courtesy of Buried X Movie, LLC)

  • Val Kilmer and Nick Vallelonga film a scene at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio for the new Christian Sesma-directed film “Pay Dirt.” (Courtesy of Buried X Movie, LLC)

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  • Actor Val Kilmer sits in a car at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino as he films a scene for new movie “Pay Dirt” directed by Coachella Valley director and screenwriter Christian Sesma. (Courtesy of Buried X Movie, LLC)

  • Actor Val Kilmer and director Christian Sesma are pictured here on set at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino as they film new movie “Pay Dirt.” (Courtesy of Buried X Movie, LLC)

  • Pictured are director Christian Sesma and actor Val Kilmer on set for new film “Pay Dirt.” Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio was the setting for some of the scenes in the film. (Courtesy of Buried X Movie, LLC)

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The film, which also shot scenes in other locations such as Coachella, Cathedral City and the Salton Sea, stars Goss as a parolee who is trying to recover a bag of stolen cash from a decade ago with Kilmer as the sheriff who put him away and is hot on his trail once again.

Fantasy Springs is shown as the place where Goss’ character has a job interview with a casino pit boss played by Nick Vallelonga. The job interview and the job are not legitimate, but a cover of sorts so that it appears as though the parolee is abiding by the terms of his parole while he undertakes his heist.

Sesma said he knew he wanted a casino to be a part of the movie from the get-go.

He and Hatton reached out to the Riverside County Film Commission seeking a casino for filming and the commission connected them with Fantasy Springs.

“Obviously we always had a casino in the movie, but we didn’t know what casino it was going to be once we kind of got down there,” he said. “Whether it was going to be Fantasy Springs, or Augustine, or Agua (Caliente), we just didn’t quite know yet and obviously Fantasy Springs answered the call technically and it was perfect.”

One of the shots features Goss’ and Vallelonga’s characters walking and talking on the casino floor.

Another, filmed on the casino’s 12th floor, has Kilmer conversing with Vallelonga, trying to suss out whether Goss’ casino job is real.

“That was incredible,” Sesma said of the second scene. “The views were amazing, the venue was amazing, that was a great scene.”

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Sesma said “Pay Dirt” is part of a larger effort by himself and fellow producer Mike Hatton to show that the Coachella Valley can make for a great place to shoot.

“I think ‘Pay Dirt’ was something that is some sort of a template for us to go back to LA, to Hollywood, and to our offices and to the studios and say, ‘hey, look at this much more viable option,” Sesma said. “It’s not just the palm trees and mid century modern homes, which is amazing, in Palm Springs, but the Valley itself is so diverse and the locations are so diverse. We have so much to offer here.”

Tags: Hollywood, Movies, La, Casinos, Sport, Things To Do, Soccer, Palm Springs, Southern California, Val Kilmer, Valley, Hatton, Coachella Valley, Indio, GOSS, Salton Sea, Kilmer, Agua Caliente, Kelsey Montague, Nick Vallelonga, Top Stories OCR, Top Stories PE, Top Stories IVDB, Top Stories RDF, Top Stories Sun, Movies + TV, Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Vallelonga, Fantasy Springs, Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage Hear, Christian Sesma, Val Kilmer Luke Goss, Sesma, Mike Hatton, Lit Lounge Nick Vallelonga, Christian Sesma Courtesy of Buried X Movie LLC, Coachella Cathedral City, Riverside County Film Commission


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