Questions Answered by Bud Force Co-Director/Producer Cowboys
What inspired you to come up with the idea for the film?
This film came into fruition from the ideas of two separate people who didn’t know each other at the time: myself and my co-director John Langmore. For me personally, the idea inspiration was simple: I had never seen a documentary on working cowboys that I thought was both authentic and structured as a cinematic film.
Why did you want to tell this story?
I personally wanted to tell the story of working cowboys because it’s a niche culture that I feel has generally been misrepresented and misinterpreted. Landing on a concept/story for a feature film is a very foundational step that will impact one’s life for the next several years, but as a filmmaker who happened to be reared in the Western and agriculture worlds, I was confident it would be a project firmly in my wheelhouse. I began chatting with my new office neighbor about my plans, and it wasn’t long before we partnered and became co-directors. As a result, the film bloomed into a multi-state, comprehensive story about the contemporary American cowboy filmed across the entire West.
How do you relate to your characters?
In my experience, being able to relate and empathize with characters is paramount in earnestly telling someone’s story. For me, empathy is key: attempting to emotionally put myself in someone else’s boots and view the world through his or her lens. I was close enough to this specific culture to generally relate on that level, but more importantly relate on a visceral human level. Whether it is “cowboys” or any culture, people are simply people, and being able to connect and relate emotionally with them, especially during an interview, is of such importance.
What influenced the visual style of the film?
If I had to sum it up in one abstract term, it would be, “The West.” I grew up inspired by the cinematography of Dean Semler and have spent my career studying how to marry that style of epic with the advances in new technology. My favorite scenes to film almost always involve nature and the natural world, but also to film them in a fluid, natural way to capture the essence of movement without “feeling” the camera. So for this film, I knew I wanted sweeping vistas and a very cinematic approach while also feeling more organic with the slightest handheld. That hopefully lends additional texture that one may never notice, but can hopefully feel. The interview visuals were inspired by the people themselves: these contemporary and weathered pioneers whose faces themselves each tell a unique story. I knew I wanted non-traditional shots with the subject positioned in the middle of frames looking directly at camera while featuring extreme close ups to show the texture of the characters themselves.
What was the most courageous decision you and your crew made during production?
Honestly, I think it was driving off to film our first ranch.
What advice would you go back and give yourself before making this film?
There’s so much advice I would go back and give myself that it’s too much to list. But if I had a singular piece of wisdom for myself before making the film, it would be a recommendation to enjoy the actual process itself for what it is.
What is going to surprise audiences most about your film?
I believe audiences will be most surprised by the complexity and diversity of these characters. It’s a culture that has often been misconstrued, and I think viewers will gain a strong appreciation and understanding of these unique people who have made this profession not only their life’s work, but also their overarching life in general. There are very few other professions where that is the case.
What does it mean to you for your film to be an official selection of the Austin Film Festival 2019?
To be able to premiere a film you worked on for years at a festival located basically in your hometown is extremely special. Coupling that with the fact that AFF is such an esteemed festival with a history of incredible premieres and screenings is a truly humbling experience.
Click here to listen to John Langmore’s On Story interview!
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