Along with many other ranchers, my family and I are featured in the newly released movie Cowboys: A Documentary Portrait. The movie chronicles life on America’s big cattle ranches.
Filmmakers John Langmore and Bud Force traveled to historic ranches in eight western states to capture footage of all aspects of ranch work, from branding calves in the spring to feeding cows in the winter. Langmore and Force both having ranching roots – Langmore worked as a cowboy for several summers and Force used to ride bulls for a living – and they drew on their extensive knowledge to tell an authentic cowboy story.
The story is told by the cowboys themselves through narration and interviews. Men (and women) who wear cowboy hats, boots and jeans as everyday attire tell viewers about living down long dirt roads, working outside in all types of inclement weather, and the passion they have for the lifestyle.
During one segment, the cameras follow me and my two kids around our cow camp home in Arizona. They filmed me driving my ‘95 Jeep Cherokee through steep canyons over one-lane roads filled with rocks and potholes. I spoke about the challenges of managing a household on an extremely remote ranch located 4 ½ hours from the nearest town.
We no longer live that remotely, but my cowboy family and I continue to embrace many core conservative values highlighted in the film. Independent films are largely liberal, so it is encouraging to see a high-quality film produced that promotes a conservative lifestyle. Hard work, self-reliance, honesty, and independence are all necessary traits for survival on the range.
There are no Skype calls or text messages on most ranches, and the only cloud present is a big, white fluffy one that floats by in the sky overhead. If a cowboy encounters a problem during his daily work, such as a cow that needs help delivering her calf or a damaged section of fence that needs repairing, he must rely on his own knowledge, skills, and hard work to complete the job. Cowboys still ride the range, just like they did in centuries gone by, to produce high-quality, nutritious food for both domestic and global consumption.
Viewers are responding enthusiastically to the movie. So far, Cowboys has been screened at a handful of showings in Texas. It has won two Audience Choice Awards, voted on by attendees of the Austin and Rockport Film Festivals. Cowboys is scheduled for screenings in other states next year. It will soon be available on streaming services, DVD, and BluRay.
It’s rewarding for the ranching community to have our lifestyle portrayed on the big screen with Hollywood-quality cinematography. Force used drone technology to capture breathtaking aerial footage of cattle herds running through clouds of dust and horseback cowboys running to get ahead of the herd during a lightning storm.
I’m flattered that Cowboys has been so well-received, and I’m grateful I could help show city folk that the cattle ranching lifestyle and industry remain a vibrant part of modern America. To learn more about the film and future showings, visit www.thecowboymovie.com.