Chad Lawson Waning Moon (Official Music Video)
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Directed by Bernardo Marentes
a note from the director:
The rodeo reentered my life, as a lot of things seem to these days, while mindlessly scrolling through Instagram stories. It was a friend of mine posting, and I knew he was in town, so 1+1= there’s a rodeo in town! It immediately rekindled my fascination with the sport. I didn’t grow up anywhere near a rodeo, but I had a lot of National Geographic magazines laying around my house. It was within these pages that I discovered photographer Sam Abell. His pictures hung proudly on the walls of my room, next to posters of Nirvana and Dragon Ball Z characters. I fell in love with Abell’s vision of the West, cowboys, and the rodeo.
I discovered that the rodeo in my friend’s post was just a 20 minute drive from my house, and it’s been there for years and years. After a quick Google search, I learned they were having their last event of the season just a few days later. I knew it was something I wanted to experience and something I wanted to document. I presented it to our team, and everyone was instantly on board. Our producer called the arena and within a couple of minutes we had permission and free rein to capture the event as we saw fit.
This was a unique experience for me as a filmmaker. I’m a planner. I like structure, storyboards, and having a clear picture of the what the end result will be before I start on a project. The rodeo was the complete opposite of any of that. I was going in blind, without the benefit of a scout or much information at all. I didn’t really know what the end result would be, logistically how I would capture the action, or what exactly the action would even be. All I knew was I wasn’t looking for a linear story. I wanted it to be an experiential exercise, a record of what I saw and felt . I was trying my best to keep it as simple as that.
It was incredible.
There were many things running through my mind as we finished capturing that night, but I was blown away by the thought of me sitting on my couch on Saturday nights watching Netflix while hundreds of people gathered in a backyard 20 minutes away from my house and experienced a completely different reality. I loved it. I loved their reality. It felt like family, and it felt like America (cliche AF, I know!), but an incredibly different America than I was expecting.
When I think of rural America now, my mind unfortunately summons images of racism, hate, ignorance and exclusion. I think that's just the climate we're in right now, and I honestly hate that that's the place I automatically go to. Deep down, I think I was expecting to see this darker side, but this was not that America at all. It wasn't “GAP ad” diverse, but there was a little bit of everything and everyone. It felt like a huge family. Everyone was coming and going, it seemed like nothing and nowhere was out of bounds. Kids climbed fences, people shared cigarettes and passed around nachos. All of the cowboys and their families were as much the owners of the space and the experience as the actual owners were. There was an unmissable atmosphere of friendly competition and generosity in this place. Everyone we interacted with was welcoming and warm. No one made us feel out of place (even though we were out of our element many many times). It was a beautiful experience.
As soon as we’d captured the night, I started working with close friends and collaborators to get this film made. Jacob McKee, at The Mill Chicago, brought the footage to life with his color grade. Chad Lawson, the most talented composer and kindest human being I know, gave this film a heart and a purpose. Finally, Eric Hurtgen brought it all together by designing two simple title cards, executing complex aesthetics, direction, and emotions in the simple way that only he can.
At the end of the day the shape this film took was as a music video of sorts for Chad Lawson. I’m incredibly proud of the film I was able to make with my friends. I’ll always treasure the opportunity I had to experience this reality, along with hospitality and warmth from everyone at Stegall’s Arena. Sam Abell, if you ever see this, I had a blast pretending to see the world through your lens.
Production Company: Caravan
Director/DP/Editor: Bernardo Marentes
Executive Producer: Jon Muedder
Producer: Michelle Wheeler
Titles: Eric Hurtgen
Color: Jacob Mckee (The Mill)
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