This interview was posted to Valentina Escobar-Gonzalez’s blog -Valentina’s Equine News whose link can be found at the end of this interview.How would you describe your latest film to the equestrian community, Wild Horses in Winds of Change?
If people love horses they will be moved by this film, even if it challenges some of their belief systems. I hope it inspires more people to love horses and become part of a return of a horse culture. I’m not part of the equestrian community now, but both my Granddad’s were true grit cowboys who claimed the best days of their lives were on the back of broncs. — so a love for wild horses seems to be in my DNA.
Is there a particular reason why you decided to do this film?
The film began following mustang adoption stories. As I began researching the issue, I knew I wouldn’t be able to turn my back on the wild horse cause.
What surprised you about completing this film?
I wasn’t sure I would make this documentary because I couldn’t wrap around any great solutions. I like happy endings, not tragedies. So, while I was researching and filming I was posting little youtube videos about adoptions, round ups, mustang trainings and so on. Two years into the project I put together a rough cut of about 20 minutes of the interviews and footage in an attempt to find funding. About one month later, at a truly low point for me, I received an invitation for my film to have a world premiere at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood via ARTIVIST Film Festival. They said they received the film by mysterious circumstances and had to google me to find my contact information. An anonymous person sent them one of the rough cut screener copies circulating. Since I’m a person who looks for signs of what direction I’m supposed to go next, I took this invitation as an important one since ARTIVIST Film Festival honors films dedicated to art and activism. They had screened my film as a “short” because it was only a 20 min cut at that point. So when I asked how long my film was, they told me the max it could be for their programming was thirty minutes. I had 300 hours of footage and interviews that I imagined making a series with but since this offer was in front of me, I decided it was destined to be.
Many individuals think that the thought of rounding up horses is a great idea, what are your thoughts?
Round ups by helicopter are brutal and inhumane. When I began the film I was under the impression that the BLM knew their wild horses and hired horse specialists to manage them and cull the weak and injured. Although my research and interviews were indicating otherwise – I needed to attend a round up, interview BLM employees and witness the look of fear and betrayal in the eyes of the horses as everything they knew and loved were callously ripped from them.
Do you mind when others think that your movies are controversial such as your first move about local sustainable agriculture?
My first film Heart & Soil, about local agriculture isn’t in my opinion anywhere as controversial as the wild horse film. Of course there is a lot wrong with the industrial food system but I chose to stay mostly on the sunny side of the fence and highlight the farmers dedicated to local agriculture. Heart & Soil is a family film that is over-all upbeat. Since I’ve been a vegetarian all my life I wondered why I was making a film that included animal husbandry – but as journalist I felt like the story unfolded as the animals were raised in optimally good circumstances and all were given a fast and painless death. Most people will always choose to eat meat, so at the very least I wanted to raise awareness about the ethical responsibility meat eaters should have toward the lives they raise for food and profit.
Describe this past year since filming Wild Horses in Winds of Change, have you been more involved with the mustangs?
I am mystified by horses. I love smelling them and feeling the warmth of their chi and heart beat. I visit the mustangs whose adopter got me into the film. I’ can send a couple pics of them with me if you’re interested. The buck skin colt was adopted first by Claude Steelman a well – known wild life photographer. (wildshots.com) , We then searched together for a companion for his colt. He decided on a gelding that was rescued from the Three Strikes ranch in Nebraska because he thought he would be a good riding horse and of course he liked his color and confirmation. Cisco has suffered too much abuse and betrayal and likely has PTSD. He easily spooks when he’s ridden but is a real sweetie as a companion. I saw so many mustangs who didn’t live up to their naive owners expectations. They’re passed, like juvenile delinquents from one owner to another until eventually they end up on skid roe/ sale barn bound for slaughter. Mustangs need to be trained by skillful, caring and experienced trainers and I didn’t want to make a film that inspired any joe to empty their piggy bank to adopt one.
Do you love animals more than people?
Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
You write lots of poetry, if you can wrote a poem about your life, what would you call it?
“No one needs a poet, but I , who without nature’s beauty could not breathe.”