The Cowboy Prayer Trailer
Words by Mollie Mills
I found the Rodeo Kids while shooting another project in LA. I had read about a Rodeo school near Dallas, Texas that taught kids how to Bronc and Calf-Rope which sparked the initial idea. I had to phone Stock Shows, Rodeo teachers, Cowboy Clubs, anyone and everyone I could find relative to the subject online or on Instagram to eventually find my teen cowgirls and cowboys. They said they were free the following week so in a last minute flurry, myself and my DP Jordan Buck hopped on a plane to Fort Worth Texas, rented a Chevvy Pick Up Truck and drove 3 hours into a small part of Texan Countryside nicknamed 'Cowboy Country'.
I initially intended for it to be part of a larger book I'm putting together on American Youth but as soon as we arrived at the first cowgirl, Aspyn's ranch, I knew it had was a stand alone project. We trekked across these sprawling, sun drenched ranches, horses running wild and dogs barking - It was a caricature of itself in a way, country music on the radio, Jesus flags and gun shops lining the highways, Stetson's and big leather boots. I had my initial reservations about covering a subject so widely documented but that romanticised, dreamy, nostalgic Americana actually very rarely exists. So, ironically, it's iconicism actually felt quite subcultural. There was something so wild about it.
Despite it's machoism, gender actually plays a very small part in Rodeo. I was impressed to find out that the girls you see in the book actually don't call themselves cowgirls but they call themselves cowboys. They don't believe in gender-binary labels, which in some ways feels quite progressive for this part of the world. There are less progressive parts too, as you can imagine. Religion is a inescapable factor; on our second night at the ranch, we drove to a nearby strip mall, tied up the horses and said Grace before eating our roadside tex-mex. Although, I'm not religious myself, there was something touching about clutching hands, curb-side under a star washed Texan sky, something about this certain prayer that they would say before they Rodeo. This is the voiceover to the short film and also the introduction to the book.
Directed, edited and graded by Mollie Mills
DP'd by Jordan Buck