Our Film - Why tell this story?
Oklahoma is full of strong-willed, hard-working people that endure the most difficult circumstances and come out triumphant. The Panhandle is a magical place where every star is visible at night. Days end without a car passing. This story from the No Man’s Land is one of those triumphant stories.
Our Story - Meet Bob
Bob Apple and Jane Labrier Apple are third generation cattle ranchers in Kenton, the westernmost town in Oklahoma. Their families have been ranching the Panhandle since the beginning of the 1900s. Jane’s mother, Ina K. Labrier, now 101-years-old and lives with Bob and Jane, can recount detailed memories of the Dust Bowl. Leon Apple, one of three sons, lives nearby and works the ranch with his dad. Leon’s son Dillon has no doubt he wants to inherit the cowboy life and continue the family business, after college. Now, cattle prices are at an all-time high but the past decade hasn’t been easy on this family.
In 2005, James Parker from Arizona came to a land auction and got into a bidding war with Bob Apple for his 35,000 acres of Oklahoma School Lease Land. Bob won the bid, but it came with a price; his new lease was seventy-five percent more expensive. Parker put three families out of business and allegedly laundered $8 million dollars through his Panhandle ranch, opening an IRS investigation that led to a federal trial with a grand jury.
Preparing their cows for sale in 2007, Bob and Leon received the worse news a rancher can get. One of their cows had tuberculosis. The Apples were forced to sell the entire herd and start over from square one. In 2008, the drought came. It was dryer than the dirty thirties. The inflated lease payments combined with no grass made ranching nearly impossible. But somehow, like their ancestors, they survived until 2010 when their lease ended. Bob renewed his lease at the previous price. Life got a little easier.
Now, their herd is rebuilding. The Apple’s bed and breakfast, the Hitchin’ Post, sees steady business. Leon is remarried, Dillon is preparing to finish high school, and Ina K. is remarkably sharp for her age. Now that things are normal again, Bob feels a call to act. He and Jane admit they can’t afford another bidding war. Bob believes that if he doesn’t do all he can to change the method lease land is allocated (the auction), he might not be able to remain in Oklahoma.
Read the full treatment HERE.
The Plan - Shooting Schedule
The feature-length Lone Man’s Land documentary will follow the Apple family through 2014 to show the life of a cowboy and Bob’s journey to make a difference in his region. We'll also unpack the fascinating history of this forgotten place.
We’ll shoot 2-3 weeks in February, March, April, May, June, October, and November. The budget that you help raise will go to for 10 weeks of production:
Equipment rental: 7,000-10,000
Transportation: 1,000-3,000 (dependent on wether rental vehicle is used or not).
*While our campaign goal is $10,000, it is not our full production budget. Our brief but accurate approximate breakdown is listed above.
There are many costs and we’re pursuing all fundraising options.
How Did I Find this Story?
Sheilah Bright's article Last of Kenton, is a powerful story beautifully told, about the hardships overcome by the Apples. The story moved me because the pure, gritty way of life in the Panhandle reminded me of the unique Oklahoma endurance that runs through people of our state.
Please click See Full Bio to learn about me.
*Story content from film page was censored from this page as a safety precaution.
Risks and challenges
Kickstarter will be an answer to prayer if you help us reach this campain goal. We wish ten grand would be enough to complete this project but it's just enough to get it started. We'll continue to seek grants and private donations through the duration of the project or until we are fully funded. I commit to finishing this project for each of you!
The people of Kenton are sweet and open but recently have become more reserved with the cold world that's injured them. To build trust, I hope to live in Kenton for the month of January. No cameras. No interviews. Just forming relationships.
As we look into what happened in the 2005, I expect to find little reluctance to talk about it. I hope to overcome this by meeting people in Kenton, the government, and Oklahoma Land Commission who want to dissect what happened so it doesn't happen again.
- (21 days)