Wild horses – the movie

The first draft of the script that I wrote with Jessica was night and day to the final script I wrote.  The reason being was that we were attempting to write a film we could make within the constraints of budget and time.  It’s common knowledge that it is smart to write a script for the film you have the means to make. Therefore, the first draft of Wild Horses included one horse and made allusions to the subject of wild horses. It was a good script but I wasn’t happy with the fact that I simply alluded to the wild horse issue.  Everything changed the day my husband innocently suggested “Steph, write the film you want to make”.  All caution and common sense went out the door and the adventure began. I wrote the final script.  It included 45 horses and a helicopter!”

It certainly creates a drama – and makes the images more arresting.

”We had very little time to accomplish our goal.  In two months we needed to do it all: raise the funds to make the film, scout, cast, crew and make the film…and we did it”. I like to call Wild Horses our huge little film.

I was incredibly lucky by the people who joined our case and crew. Melissa Farlow,  a National Geographic photographer who did the National Geographic story on Wild Horses. I called her up months before out shoot to ask her if I could use some of her pictures for my website. We hit it off on the phone and long story short, she joined us months later on our shoot as our stills photographer.  Well, Melissa was more than that.  Her pictures are our main character’s pictures.  It was important that our main character should be believable as a professional photographer. Her pictures needed to be exceptional, and because Melissa photographed them, they were.

It was like this with everyone else involved in this project – she chose to collaborate with us because she shared our goal.

My husband, Robert Richardson, was the cinematographer on Django Unchained.  His collaboration was invaluable in that our film was photographed by one of the best, if not the best, in the business.  His involvement went further in that it gave me access to some of the best individuals in the business.  While he filmed Django in Jackson Hole and New Orleans, I would often be on set as I was prepping to go to LA to attend the DWW program.  There,  I discussed Wild Horses with many in the crew and eventually, many of them joined me in my undertaking following wrap on Django Unchained.  At one point, Quentin joked and said that I was, as he put it, “pilfering his crew”.


“I worked with Rex Peterson who is one of the best Horse Trainers in the world, I was incredibly fortunate. He was on Seabiscuit, Horse Whisperer, Black Beauty and Hidalgo.”


I worked with Rex Peterson who is one of the best Horse Trainers in the world, I was incredibly fortunate. He was the horse trainer on Seabiscuit, Horse Whisperer, Black Beauty and Hidalgo.

In addition, the safety of the horses was very important. Afterall, I’m making a film whose goal it is to draw awareness to the cruelty inflicted upon them.  The last thing I wanted was for a horse to be hurt during filming.  There are areas in the budget where you can cut corners but not on safety. When it came to the horses I had to make sure I got the best people.

Rex Peterson and Scott Perez came on board with their horses. It was so important to me that what we did looked like a real round up.

At these roundups, the helicopters get very close to the horses. There’s been footage of helicopters hitting them from behind. I needed our film to look as real as possible but I didn’t have a lot of time for rehearsals nor did I have a huge budget.

Erich Joiner, owner of Tool, recommended Rick Shuster, one of the best helicopter pilots in the business.  Watching Rick work with Rex and Scott’s horses was like watching a ballet.  The coordination between the helicopter and the horses was incredible.

Prior to Wild Horses, I’d worked on a documentary in Tanzania.  As I told the production coordinator, Laura Sweet, about the film I was about to make, I learned that she was an actual Humane Association representative.  She was invaluable in guiding us as to our choices and how they affected the safety of the horses.  The American Humane Association was involved with our shoot on a daily basis.  We always had at least two supervisors on set daily ensuring no horses were harmed in the making of our film.

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