On a sunny day last September, I left the casinos of the Las Vegas strip and drove west out of the city. After passing the sign for Red Rock Canyon, I arrived at one of the hidden treasures of Las Vegas, the celebrated Cowboy Trail Rides.
Set in the magnificent scenery, I was so tempted to grab a saddle and one of their beautiful trail horses and head off on a ride through the desert. But I was here for a different reason.
At the end of a narrow dusty road I saw a small collection of cars and trucks. Near a round pen was large lighting equipment, chairs, tables, a sound desk and a group of about twenty people who were totally engrossed in preparing for the next shot.
I had just arrived on the set of Out Of the Wild, the new modern day western film produced by Ben Ashbrook and directed by Paul Krizan.
The as yet unreleased movie has already generated considerable excitement with press coverage around the world and a large international social media fan base.
You can watch the movie trailer below.
The story centers around Henry McBride, a down and out Nevada cowboy, Jessie King, the owner of a dude ranch, and a troubled mustang.
As I walked over to the round pen to introduce myself I noticed that the legendary American horseman, Mark Rashid, was working inside the pen with a chestnut horse, preparing the horse for the next scene.
I waited and held my breath as I got this front row seat to watch one of the world's most incredible horsemen spend time with his horse Rocky, who plays the main horse character, 'Tico' in Out of the Wild.
When the shot was over, I chatted with Mark. He wrote the screenplay as well as the novel on which the story is based.
After a lot of challenges and setbacks since then, including expired options, and a $10 million big budget studio offer with impossible clauses, this 'against all odds' story was finally getting to the big screen in true independent movie style.
Along with Mark I met actor John Diehl (Miami Vice, Jurassic Park). But he wasn't John Diehl - He WAS Henry McBride. I got goose bumps watching the story come to life in front of my eyes.
Twenty minutes later during another scene setup in the hot Nevada sun, I met Jean Louisa Kelly (Yes Dear, Uncle Buck, Mr. Holland's Opus), who plays Jessie King.
Watching some of the more emotional scenes between Jessie and Henry, it was very hard to not shed a tear.
I settled in to be a fly on the wall throughout the rest of the day. Ben Ashbrook was both the producer and another of the lead actors, playing the role of Chad Collins, in the film.
It turns out that in his role of Chad, Ben is fast becoming a Hollywood movie star favorite with many ladies on Twitter!
In the cool shade of the Joshua tree, I watched as director Paul Krizan, created so many beautiful scenes with the support of the hard-working crew, who over the course of the shoot battled 110 degree F heat, a six day work schedule, thunderstorms and dust storms.
Many of the people also working on set were friends of the movie's core team. I was surprised to learn that almost all of the "horse" crew were horsemen & horsewomen from all over the USA, Canada and even Scotland, who had volunteered their time and skills to help with the horses being used in the movie.
Out of the Wild is a story of redemption that gives us a glimpse into ways of looking at horses, and perhaps even ourselves, with new eyes.
When I was leaving the set, I realized just how powerful it is to dream big and never give up. Out of the Wild is proof that with dedication, hard work and great friends everything is possible.