Fetty said the point was to be as accurate as possible while still being able to tell a coherent and truthful story about the time. To help keep them honest, the production relied on experts, including former West Virginia Archives and History Director Fred Armstrong.
Armstrong said he was contacted through the West Virginia Film Office, and he was reluctant at first to get involved with the miniseries.
"As I told them, the Hatfield-McCoy feud is not an overly documented event in West Virginia-Kentucky history," he said. "There's just not a lot of good documentation."
Armstrong, as a historian, also said the time period and the feud wasn't one of his favorite topics.
"It's not the best image of West Virginia," he said. "I just feel like there were a lot of incidents on both sides of the border that the individual families could have conducted themselves in a far less violent way."
But Armstrong agreed to look over the script and make notations when he saw something questionable.
Armstrong said, "In its original form, the script had some areas that needed correction. There were problems with the timeline or the date or even with some of the individuals."
Armstrong said he consulted histories on the Hatfield-McCoy feud, made the notes and sent them back to the producers of the miniseries. Whether they made changes based on his notes, he doesn't know. He hasn't seen the miniseries, nor has he seen an updated script.
"I did provide them with what I thought would bring them more credibility than what I was finding in their original manuscript."
The historian seemed doubtful that he'd see the finished product, though it's not because he doesn't support the production. He just doesn't watch a lot of television and tends to stick to his morning newspaper.
"My wife, she's aware of it," he added.
As much as they could, the production tried to connect with West Virginia, but the miniseries wasn't shot in West Virginia, Kentucky or even Appalachia, but in Romania.
Fetty said he wished they could have filmed in West Virginia, but the original area where the feud took place has grown up in the past hundred years.
"We would have loved to have shot in West Virginia, but we would have demanded a lot more room than we [could have] had in Southern West Virginia" he said.
Romania, he pointed out, partly because it was under communist control for 40 years has huge sections of land that hasn't been developed.
"No phone lines. No franchises."
Also, he said, West Virginia doesn't have the resources the filmmakers needed to shoot the miniseries.
"The film community needs to build up in that way," he said. "For instance, it would help if Marshall University or one of the other universities had a film department. That would be a jumping-off point if you had a university soundstage."
Romania has Castel Film Studios, which has supplied support for films such as "Cold Mountain," "Borat" and "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance."
Fetty said, "They had a couple of 19th-century towns on their back lot. We were able to use those. Otherwise, we'd have had to start from scratch."
Still, they didn't try to avoid West Virginia. In a companion documentary to the miniseries, a crew did come to the area to get footage and interview descendents of the Hatfields and the McCoys.
"We brought production here," he said. "I'd like to bring more."
And maybe the Hatfield & McCoy miniseries will make that more likely. Fetty said there are plenty of stories in West Virginia. Maybe others will want to discover them once they get past the stigma of it being hillbilly.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.