Archive for category Oklahoma

When we decided to get into the movie business…

Eleven years ago – I decided: “I want to direct movies!”

But why limit yourself to just one goal? That expanded to, “I want to be involved in all aspects of the film business.”

I didn’t know it, but my friend Don was always interested in this, too. Who knew? Over beers at the bar one night, we agreed to get into the movie business together.

Well, why not? It’s fun. We enjoy it.

We started acting. We got our own home video cameras and started shooting. We started with Windows Movie Maker editing software.

Over the years, we have upgraded technology. We have learned and learned and learned, and all of this was like a giant leap of faith: jump off a cliff and see where you land!

But…when we were just starting out – if you think about getting into the movie business, you think of having your own private trailer and someone knocking on the door saying, “Five minutes, Miss Johnson.”

You think of those black and white movies of the forties where the women wore the glamorous satin dressing gowns.

You think of how it is to have someone do your hair. Someone else does your makeup.

Film sets have catering crews.

They provide those canvas chairs for you to sit in when you are not on camera – and sometimes they stencil your name on the back. When you are awaiting your turn, they have a green room, almost always an indoor, climate controlled comfortable place – with snacks!

When you think about it – you think about the fun stuff.

But what is the reality?

Well, for one – we have really comfortable chairs!

I was standing on the side of the highway waiting for the cattle drive to come by. Lucky there was this chunk of concrete. You better believe I sat down. Think I was out there for over 45 minutes on that one shot. And I was lucky to have this sitable apparatus there. Because on this set – there ain’t no chairs! I have stood more this week, than in the past three months all put together!

While I sat there, I was enjoying…My Own Green Room:

Well, it was green! Does that count?

It was green there. It just wasn’t a room. I achieved 50% of the goal anyway. đŸ™‚

I even made a new friend:

When you are on someone else’s set – it is polite not to be destructive. I tried not to intrude on his home too much.

One day, when Don and I had pulled a 12 hour day – out in the heat and bugs and sweat and heat and pollen and sun and heat…I said, “We need a crew!”

Don looked at me, and pointed to himself. He said, “I’m your crew!”

To that job description you can add: cinematographer, director, producer, driver, camera operator, location scout, movie consultant, and historical consultant (I didn’t know it until we agreed to this gig, but Don went on the ’93 cattle drive as a drover. I am always asking him for knowledge about cattle drives and cowboyin’.)

When you think of a film set, you think of a big warehouse with sets inside, and people wait outside while the red light goes round and round and round.

In our world, the set is mobile. You find yourself in places you never dreamed you’d be:

Like this:

These grasses are taller than the hood of my pickup. The trail boss’ husband has been so kind to help and he has helped me a lot. On this location, he called out, “Amanda, after we leave here, you’d better check for ticks.”

I was glad for the warning.

But wow…you can say one thing: This reality of movie making ain’t like what you see in the movies.

On this set – what else do you have to contend with?

Well, that’d be:

And I mean that literally!

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Thursday evening on the trail

96*F.

Not a shade tree in sight!

Three or four participants pitch tents. Most drovers sleep on the ground.

It’s hot being out in the open. It’s even hotter standing over this fire.

The best thing to do: find a bit of shade – wherever you can.

The thing that has most surprised me about this whole cattle drive experience:

The sense of community. I didn’t expect that. I thought that people participated in these things for their own reasons: to play cowboy; for a lark; for a vacation; to get to ride your horse.

But this experience – it’s more than that. I have witnessed people working together in the spirit of creating something good. People are not isolated. They are together – sharing an experience that none of us will ever forget.

I am only a moviemaker. I am not a full time participant. I am not riding a horse or riding a wagon. I take my own vehicle and drive (with my air conditioner ON) to the trail.

Even at that, the people involved have welcomed me and treated me as part of the team.

The sense of community and friendship has been extraordinary.

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Cattle Drive – Day 3

Thursday Sunrise

It was an early start to the cattle drive. Drovers packed their bedrolls before dawn.

Chuckwagon cooks made breakfast before dawn.

Cowboys ate before dawn.

Then the cattle were rounded up, ready to start the day’s drive.

And….they’re off!

And me…standing there on my feet on the dirt road  – I wish I had a horse so I could go on with them.

This is what it looks like when they drive away.

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Day 2 from the Trail

We had three things to film this morning, before they really got started. Trouble was – two of those things happened at the same time!

The cattle had to go on the highway for a couple of miles. We had law enforcement blocking traffic.

After all–when you went to work this morning – did you expect to see a cattle drive? Neither did a lot of folks!

I hopped in the pickup bed, and my partner Don was driving. We got some amazing footage. I never dreamed we’d get these shots. I was hoping for something “up close”. I was hoping to pace the drive – moving at their same speed in the same direction. With the highway traffic being blocked, we were able to get the shots.

My primary focus was video cam. That is why we are out there – to film the movie.

I’d get my point and shoot still cam, and turn it on, but never look at it, and just click the shutter. My focus (I just realized that that was a pun) was on the video camera.

To get these still shots, when I wasn’t even trying – whoa!

Me and my shadow!

They got off the highway. We pulled onto a dirt road, and the cattle drive went across a field – much like the drovers 150 years ago did.

This grass was as tall as me. Imagine how exhausted this horse and rider would be, driving miles and miles in this all day:

That’s Carmen to the right. She’s the trail boss.

Don went up to talk to Doug. Doug was riding ahead, to check for fence or obstacles. As for us – we were trying to figure out where the drive was headed, so we could get there ahead of time!

If we guess wrong – then we are out of luck! We’d be on the wrong road, and would have no cattle drive to film.

After this, they made it to a smaller paved road, which is not a state highway. We had law enforcement escort there.

Don filming in the back of the pickup.

Gee – I wonder who was driving?

I had a deputy in front of me. I held it slow and steady – jussstttt about the pace of the cattle! LOL

This was one of those times when you drive looking behind you – in this here mirror! ha

After a half a day of that – I was pooped!

When the cattle drive made it to cow camp, drovers and horses and cattle were glad to see some water.

What have they got to look forward to tonight?

A nice dinner! That someone else cooked!

The community is hosting a drover’s dinner.

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Daybreak

This is how they started. First thing in the mornin’.

These are the participants in the 2017 Chisholm Trail Cattle Drive!

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Head ’em up – Move ’em out

The 2017 Chisholm Trail Cattle drive is under way!

Cowboys camped out under the stars last night, and first thing this morning – before daybreak – they had the cattle rounded up.

Cattle milling

On the move!

 

This was part of supper last night! Talk about skillet envy!

Yum!

Need a chair?

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Cattle drive – getting ready!

The cattle are here!

Somehow or other, the drovers have to get these cattle trained to gather into a herd, and move on command.

Even when they are finding the best hiding places:

There is so much they have to do to get ready. Permissions for places to camp at night. Places for the cattle to graze and have water. Permissions for what roads to drive on. On highways, they need law enforcement escorts.

You have to consider things like pipeline right of ways, railroad crossings, road construction, oil field equipment, etc. You have to make sure the horses have water and feed. You have to have supplies for the drovers.

You have to find experienced drovers, experienced wagonmasters, experienced trail cooks.

The amount of work involved is enormous. A cattle drive doesn’t just happen. It takes literally years worth of work to get to your starting day.

Horses have to get shod:

Sage getting horseshoes

Wagons have to be hauled out to the starting place:

The orange tongue really jumps out at you. Did they have orange paint in the old days? ha!

Even loading the longhorns and getting them to the starting place is not easy:

Before:

During:

Yeah…I stood there for about an hour and these longhorns – named Caldwell and Fleetwood – did NOT want to get into that trailer!

They don’t just go places because you want them to. They do have a mind of their own!

Then they moved them about twelve miles from their own pasture to the starting place of the cattle drive. But…what happens when you have a flat?

This 2017 Cattle drive is an adventure that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We are thrilled to be able to part a part of it.

Being a part of this – as both a movie maker and an observer – is both an honor and honestly – quite scary! When this happens on the trail, then the people who are there are the ones who can experience it. But if we can capture video footage and make a movie and tell a story – then many, many people can share in the experience. For years down the line – people can see this movie and learn about the life of how it was to be a Cowboy and drive Cattle on the Chisholm Trail. I alternate between going “this is sooo cool!” and “wow…to even attempt to make this movie is a HUGE undertaking”.

I’ll be posting updates here as we go along.

You may also follow the O-K Chisholm Trail 150 Cattle Drive facebook page.

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