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Neighbours, Wild Horses & Cowboys
NWHC-Diary: Portfolio of Work
This film was rather unique in that the budget was independently produced entirely with broadcast licenses and grants as opposed to investments that need to be repaid plus bartering with a few of my large paintings in trade for post production services.
So when the film was completed, it was debt free.
In the Brooks area where we shot, there was a massive round‐up of wild horses on the Suffield range (the British military training grounds) area. These captured feral horses were another striking symbol of an era coming to an end. The romantic 'cowboy' era was a vanishing lifestyle of the ‘Wild West’.
As a young girl growing up in the Great Plains country, I fell in love with horses, the rural lifestyle and the vast open spaces of the native prairie grasslands under a big blue sky.
At 10 years old, I was given an orphaned calf to bottle feed and raise on my own, and our geese all had names, until one day 'George' ended up on a platter at a meal (our mother explained who it was after we ate) and the calf grew up and released to graze the open grassland with hundreds of other cattle.
Location filming during the prairie winter and springtime when temperatures fell below -30 C, had its challenges for the crew and the equipment.
During one shoot in springtime, a terrible blizzard hit while we filming outdoors on a remote ranch at the edge of the badlands. We donned our Arctic gear and the crew made me wear a mask that made me look like 'Hannibal Lector" (for a time they gave me that nickname). It was calving season in the ranches and it seemed more calves were being born that stormy night rather than wait for the weather to clear.
As we were doing an interview in the ranch house kitchen, the door swung open and a couple of half frozen newborns were being carried into the house. Everyone had to get up and help. The interview stopped as chaos broke out. For me, it felt natural but I am not sure about the camera crew.
Fill the bathtub. Put the calves in the warm water. Dry them off as they kicked and wiggled. Chasing them around the room when they got their second wind. Then finally trying to bottle feed them. What a scene.
And needless to say, trying to film the elusive ‘wild horses’ was a test of trial and error in so much space.
The following year after finishing this beautiful film, it was used to raise awareness and fundraising for rural communities, including aid for the Red River Valley flood victims who were mainly family farmers and ranchers whose lifestyle was threatened.
Awards and festivals: Gold Plaque, Chicago Intl Film Festival, 1998
‐ Special Jury Award, Yorkton Int Film Festival, 1998
‐ Special Jury Award, Northwest Film & Video Intl F.F., Portland, Oregon, 1998
First window national broadcaster: Vision TV
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