Each year, horse trainers journey to Reno, Nevada to compete for one of the most challenging equestrian championships in the world. For the trainers, winning means putting food on the table and hay in the barn for another year, and a chance for a more secure future. For the world, it means another year of survival for a culture at risk and the continued refinement of an art that dates back to the first Spanish missions in California.
This was an art born out of a practical need for partnership, but the bond between horse and human and the community that grew around that bond is so strong that, defying the odds, it has not been broken—not even by the force of a modern world.
Down the Fence profiles horse trainers on their journey to compete for the championship, revealing their challenges and a rare glimpse into their unique lifestyle along the way. This is a documentary about passion, perseverance, community, and the enduring power of the human-animal connection.
We examine the impact that competition has made, not only on the survival of this culture of horsemanship, but on its continued evolution. It is a curious phenomenon that this particular discipline of horsemanship, which should be deteriorating because of its nearly obsolete purpose (training horses to manage large herds of cattle), is still advancing and thriving.
We will also explore the origins of this culture and art form, and the spirit of the community that are its caretakers and who will be the champions of its future.
HOW YOUR SUPPORT WILL HELP
This has been a passion project so far, with years of research by MJ, nearly all of the production cost so far being financed by Lori Adamski-Peek, and all work by Lori and MJ unpaid. Your generous support will go toward:
- Completing production (we're about 50% through the production/filming phase of the film).
- Some post-production costs, such as editing.
- Legal fees.
We understand that supporting this project takes a tremendous amount of faith on your part. We will not let you down. If you're a horse person, than you understand exactly the kind of dedication and commitment we have to this story. If you are not a horse person, we hope you'll give us a shot anyway. This is a wonderful story that is long overdue in the telling. With your support helping us in a huge way, we're also trying to raise the rest of the needed funding through grants and other sources.
With your help, we'll be able to attract the additional talent and resources needed to make this film the absolute best it can be!
THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THE ART OF HORSEMANSHIP
HOW DOES KICKSTARTER WORK?
Kickstarter is a funding platform that makes funding convenient for people who want to support meaningful creative projects like Down the Fence.
How it works: We set a funding goal and have 30 days to reach that goal. Our supporters make pledges. If we reach our goal by the deadline, your pledge will be processed by Kickstarter.
The scary part: If we don’t reach our goal, our supporters will not be charged for their pledges. It's an all or nothing deal. To be able to finish this documentary, it's critical to meet our Kickstarter goal.
SOME OF THE PEOPLE WE'VE INTERVIEWED
These are just a few of the horsemen and women that we've interviewed. The list is much longer and there's still more to come.
- Top Row: Erin Taormino, Chris Dawson, Sandy Collier, Teddy Robinson, John Ward, Don Murphy, Nick Dowers.
- Middle Row: Kelby Phillips, Jon Roeser, Todd Bergen, Doug Williamson, Annie Reynolds, Zane Davis, Phillip Ralls.
- Bottom Row: Jake Telford, Justin Wright, Todd Crawford, Smoky Pritchett, Clayton Edsall, Tina Robinson, Brandon Buttars.
LORI ADAMSKI-PEEK (Director, Director of Photography)
Lori Adamski-Peek is a lifelong horse lover who has been a commercial photographer for 30 years, shooting for clients such as National Geographic, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and Newsweek (covering 10 Olympic Games), and celebrities such as Brad Pitt, John Hamm, Clint Dempsey, Ciara, and Stephen Curry. She has a B.A. in Fine Arts. Her photography and production company began shooting film in response to client requests and she instantly fell in love with the process and storytelling. She is known for her exceptional captured-moment images and reportage-style photography that emphasizes light quality.
MJ ISAKSON (Producer, Director, Writer)
MJ Isakson has spent the last 6 years interviewing horse trainers, craftsmen, and horse breeders, and researching the history of vaquero style horsemanship--a journey that has taken her from Santa Ynez Valley, California to its roots in the south of Spain. Her time spent with this community has made it possible for our team to have such unique access into their world. MJ has a B.S. in English and an M.S. in Computer Science, making her a storyteller with a knack for working on complex, long-haul projects. Her years of experience as a senior project/program manager has made for a fluid transition into her role as producer. In summary, she’s a horse nerd who has the vision, writing and management chops, and the passionate dedication needed to complete Down the Fence. @downthefencemov
FERNANDO VENEGAS (Assistant Director of Photography)
Fernando Venegas is our brilliant and fearless ADP. Having worked for years covering the motor sports industry, working for clients such as Yamaha and Honda motorcycles, his experience makes him uniquely suited for filming the fast action and potentially intimidating performance horses. Over the many months of filming at ranches and horse shows, Fernando has been especially affected by the stories of the horsemen and women (even participating in the interview process) and by the spirit of the horses. He is absolutely dedicated to seeing this project through.
PATRICK THOMPSON (Production Sound Mixer)
Patrick Thompson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a degree in Film and Media Arts (he has more than one degree cause he's a big brain, but that's one of them). He has worked on several short documentaries, commercial projects, and narrative projects as an editor and cinematographer and in the audio, gaff, grip, and effects departments. He is very involved with the storytelling discussions for Down the Fence.
BEN FONNESBECK (Digital Media Manager, Camera Operator, Gaffer, Key Grip)
Ben Fonnesbeck is the digital technology mastermind that keeps our production equipment state-of-the-art and humming, our media organized, cameras ready, and technical and special camera angle issues resolved. He has over 20 years of experience working with commercial photography and videography studios, with early experience that includes an internship in the photo office at the White House.
CHRIS JAMESON (Photographer)
Chris Jameson is an outstanding photographer who has this crazy ability to bring out and capture each person's personality in his photographs. We're so fortunate to have him on the team, documenting the subjects and production of the film in stills. Chris has years of experience as an editorial and commercial photographer and has worked with Lori Adamski-Peek, traveling all over the world for clients such as Athleta, Degree, and New Balance.
CHRISTINA ALLEN (Special Events Production Assistant)
Christina Allen is a real-deal cowgirl and horse trainer from Indian Valley, Idaho. She has an amazing aptitude for making sure everyone is in the right place at the right time. She manages event interview scheduling as well as special projects. In addition, since the integrity of this documentary is a number one priority for us and we are not looking to make what the cowboys call, “A Hollywood horse movie,” Christina has become a volunteer research consultant who works closely with MJ. She is fiercely dedicated to the art of horsemanship and, because of that, has stepped up to help in the production of Down the Fence.
JACLYNN PARIZEK (Marketing, Graphic Design)
Jaclynn graduated at the top of her class with a degree in advertising. She's a copywriting wonder woman and a savvy graphic designer. She helps with marketing strategy, graphic design concepts, social media, and event planning. When we're away shooting, she keeps the online posts posting and the tweets a tweeting. A horsewoman herself, Jaclynn is very committed to Down the Fence. @jaclynnparizek
WHEN WILL THE FILM BE RELEASED?
The film is scheduled to be released in 2016. We've been filming for a little over a year now and it's sure gone by fast! 2016 will be here in no time!
Signed Doug Williamson Portraits
DOWN THE FENCE PHOTO COLLECTION
Along the way, we've been documenting this story in still photography as well, capturing the legendary people, horses, tack, and craftsmanship of this culture in beautiful fine art prints. We hope to be able to exhibit them formally someday soon. For now though, the first copies of these prints are only available to backers. If you choose a pledge that offers prints, you'll be sent a link to an online gallery where you can browse and select the one(s) you want. If you'd like to see a few more samples right away, please visit our website or our facebook page.
We are so grateful for our international supporters. We are disappointed that we're not able to offer international shipping due to the incredibly high cost. In some special cases though, we might be able to work something out. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP
- Do you have some old footage of vaquero-style horse trainers? Please contact us!
SPREAD THE WORD! Sharing this page with your friends would help a lot! Thank you!
Risks and challenges
Down the Fence will face the same risks as all documentaries, most notably the financial risk. When we started, we knew we would eventually have to reach out to the world for help to complete the film. We made a choice to do that, to invest our time and resources into it, not knowing if the rest of the funding would come in. But we all agreed that this story is, without question, worth the risk. We believe we're not alone in wanting this story to be told.
As a team, we're fully committed to this project. Although there are sometimes scheduling challenges, and could be some in the future, we work so well together that they are always resolved.
If we foresee or encounter an challenges in the future, we will include details in our updates and get your feedback!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)