Lou Hake, a freelance producer we always love to work with, shares a fascinating insight into her recent adventures in Colorado ranch life and tells us a bit about an exciting new film project she has in the pipeline.
In April this year, I left W+K to spend three months filming and photographing life on a ranch in southern Colorado for the Ranchlands Review, an online journal that documents ranch life. I've always been fascinated with the West and wanted to see if my ideas about gun-slinging cowboys and the vast American plains were accurate. Having spent 10 years producing commercials in London, I was also slightly appalled to have never shot anything myself, and so I decided to do something about it.
I spent the majority of my time on the Chico Basin Ranch, an 87,000 acre working cattle ranch run by a fourth generation ranching family. They run two large-scale ranches in Colorado under the Ranchlands management company with the aim of preserving the delicate ecosystems that exist there and protecting ranching traditions for generations to come.
Raising cattle is still the staple of their business but they have also diversified their offering to ensure its viability with a guest operation, by producing leather goods, hosting a concert series and running an education programme. The Ranchlands Review documents all of this and serves as a window into ranching and a platform on which to create a conversation with the wider community.
No two days were the same, but the majority started early to catch the morning light. Sometimes riding out with the crew to help them move the herd into a new pasture – the trot out alone to get to the cattle could be up to two hours. Having not spent much time on a horse or on a horse with a camera, the learning curve was a steep one!
Spending time there really brought to life how ranchers really are the best placed land stewards. Their livelihood is inextricably linked to the preservation of the land and the health and well being of their animals. Having the opportunity to document this has been life-changing in many ways.
Whilst there, I started working on a film script written by the filmmaker living there. The film is a modern Western inspired by the location. it tells the story of two men, isolated in the vast landscape, searching for a place to belong.
One of the biggest challenges to get a project off the ground with narrative filmmaking is finding funding, and Lou's team are currently running an Indiegogo campaign to help get them there. Please check out their project page if you want to know out more.