About this project
***We are grateful to the many who have donated and spread the word about this film. Though we have thankfully exceeded the original goal, new donations will help us to tell an even bigger story. Please see our stretch goals below. We still need your help to get the Compton Cowboys' story told. THANK YOU!!!
Fire on the Hill is a feature length documentary that reveals the underground culture of the Compton Cowboys whose origins trace back to the California's Old West. Today, the last remaining Compton Cowboys are struggling to maintain their dying culture that has served as a refuge from gang life in the often hostile streets of South Central LA.
Decades of crime, industrialization, and development have squeezed out most of the cowboys, turning their open landscape into an urban wasteland. But in 2012, it took a turn for the worse when their stable, known as the Hill, mysteriously burned to the ground. Now without a home, only a few dozen Compton Cowboys remain today.
Fire on the Hill tells the personal story of these last cowboys, their culture, and how for them, Compton is the final battle ground between the Old West and the impinging modern world.
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS FILM
Everyone has a preconceived notion of Compton and South Central LA. I certainly did when I first met the Cowboys. Let me tell you that this film destroys all your expectations of this area, its people, and its heritage. It’s an authentic documentary, shot cinematically as a western film, and reveals Compton like you've never seen it before.
This film will also give you:
- Access into the world of Professional Rodeo
- Bull Riding Champions, then and now
- A raw look into Compton's most dangerous gangs
- Investigation into the mysterious stable fire
- Music from Compton's underground hip-hop scene
- Compton's tie to the West
THE LOST COWBOYS
Black Cowboys were a fixture on the American Frontier, and a foundational yet overlooked part of Los Angeles' history. This documentary will reveal their untold story and elevate the forgotten black heroes who helped forge the American Frontier.
THE LAST FRONTIER
You probably don’t think ‘cowboy’ when you hear Compton. But ties to the Old West are deeply rooted in Compton's history. Laws established in the early ranching days still exist today, making it a unique city where horses are allowed in the streets and backyard farms flourish.
Known as one of the only neutral zones in South Central, the Hill was a place where rival gang members could make friendships between one another. Over the past two decades, the Hill turned hundreds of young teens away from their affiliated gangs.
But with the Hill closed down, many of these young Cowboys have returned to the streets and gang-banging.
HOW YOUR FUNDING HELPS
Over the last 2 years, we’ve used self funding and in-kind services (thank you to all who have helped) to get the ball rolling and shoot over 30+ hours for this documentary. From that footage we found that we had an unbelievable story on our hands and were able to attract many talented crew members to help us achieve this story. We’ve nailed down the visual style and figured out the missing pieces and now it’s time to capture the rest of the film!
With each passing day, the risk of losing the Hill forever grows greater and greater. That is why we’ve turned to Kickstarter to raise funds quickly and get us into production.
OUR ULTIMATE GOAL
We plan to shoot, edit and release Fire On The Hill in mid-2016. Then we’ll use the film to raise awareness and rebuild the stables in Compton. We envision an ocean of opportunities from there. An endowment program for locals to interact with horses. Recreating “The Hill” for other inner-cities around the world. Please help spread the word and get us there.
STRETCH GOALS: We are overwhelmed and so very grateful for our new and old friends! You got us to the goal of $60,000!!!!!!
With this extraordinary gift, we have already scheduled a rodeo shoot in the next couple of weeks and are beginning to plan for our first round of filming with a crew in April. It’s very exciting to be able to say that. With a few more days left to go on Kickstarter, we want to share what we will be able to do with additional funds raised beyond our original goal.
Donations are still coming in. If we are able to hit 65,000, that will allow us to film additional rodeos and follow Compton bull rider Chris Byrd’s journey even further as he makes his way on the Pro Rodeo circuit toward the championships held later this year. These funds will also help cover Chris’s transportation to the events we are filming, which is big help.
If we can get to 75,000, that will allow us to bring an editor on-board right away to start shaping the movie with the director.
Those extra hands can only help us make a better film to share with all of you and to show the rest of the world the story of the Compton Cowboys even sooner. Once we have the film to share their story, and with the generosity and goodwill you all have shown exists, we can help them raise the awareness and means necessary to carry on their traditions, offer a much needed service to the South L.A. community, and keep the cowboy culture alive and well for generations to come.
Thank you for your unforgettable support!!!
Brett Fallentine - Director/Producer
After receiving a film degree from UC Berkeley, I began working in feature narrative films as an apprentice and assistant editor on Star Wars Episode III and Avatar. I then went on to receive an MFA from USC’s school of Cinematic Arts where I transitioned into documentary filmmaking and directed films and TV commercials for Google, Pepsi, IBM, and the Bill Gates Foundation (among others). These experiences created my passion to tell authentic, human stories in a cinematically narrative way.
When I met the Compton Cowboys in 2011, I knew I had to tell their story. Their unique personas and how they viewed the landscape around them was so different than the public’s perception of that area that I felt compelled to bring it to life. This film will capture Compton through their eyes and with the same visual artistry that enabled classic Western films to reveal the spirit of the Old West. To me, there’s is a story of a culture on the brink of extinction and I want this film to capture their spirit in time.
Jimmy Greenway - Producer
Thank you for looking at our project. It’s been an honor working with Brett on this and getting to know the Cowboys. I got my start in the world of music videos and was really fortunate to work with over 100 acts including U2, Bruce Springsteen, Babyface, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Van Halen, and John Lee Hooker, and directors David Fincher and Michael Bay. That was like going to the best film school and I came out of it ready to go after my dream of making movies.
The first was “Who Killed The Idea?” starring Harvey Keitel. Then came “Art & Copy” directed by Doug Pray, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Emmy® Award for Outstanding Cultural Programming in 2011. Next was the Cannes award-winning film “Freedom To Choose” which documented a therapeutic psychology workshop at a women’s prison in central California. I am currently Executive Producer at Enso Collaborative and have had a great time collaborating with director Brett Fallentine on multiple projects for Google and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Brad Stonesifer - Director of Photography
A busy DP for commercials and music videos, Brad’s films have been showcased at Sundance, Tribeca, Toronto, and SXSW. When he isn’t on a camera dolly, he’s probably on a surfboard.
Kay Madsen - Director of Photography
German-born DP Kay just completed a project with director Nate Parker on the shootings in Ferguson, MO that have transfixed the nation and the world. He has collaborated on many feature and branded-content projects throughout the world and currently resides in Highland Park, CA.
Your amazing support (whether it’s $5 or $500) will go towards:
Research: Archival photos, historical records, investigations into the fire, fact checking, etc.
Subjects: Outside of the cowboys we will use historians, professors, animal experts, police & fire investigators, city officials, and rodeo professionals (among others) to tell our story. Some interviews are free, others are not.
Production: Locations, permits, camera and sound equipment, transportation & lodging, and our wonderfully talented crew of filmmakers.
Any excess funds will go directly into Editorial and Post Production of this film.
Risks and challenges
The filmmakers have been capturing footage and interviews on their own over two years. This has allowed them to capture some once-in-a-lifetime moments. Those moments may be the waning days of the Compton Cowboys if they are not able to rebuild the stables on the Hill. Time is not working in their favor, as every new day could bring news that their long-time home was sold to developers, fracking prospectors, or something else unforeseen. Although that kind of drama can make for interesting filmmaking, we wish for a better outcome for them. Getting our filming completed in the next few months with your donations will allow us to get their story out there as soon as possible.
If we are fortunate enough to exceed our initial goal, additional funds will go toward helping to rebuild the stables (estimated at $250,000) and establish a “The Hill Foundation”.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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