Friday, September 28, 2012

Farrier Video: High-Definition Passion for the Profession in the Words and Work of Bob and Branton Phalen

Before you hit play: Stop and expand this video to full-screen by clicking on the arrows between the letters "HD" and the word "vimeo" on the tool bar. This is a video that deserves to be seen on a bigger screen than your phone's.

The voice. I know that voice. The words of California farrier icon Bob Phalen filled the office. "It's not how much you know, it's how much you learn after you know everything that counts."

How often have I heard farriers say that? And how did Bob Phalen get on my monitor screen in such brilliant high definition?

Sparks flew in slow motion as the shoe hit the anvil. Hot shoes hissed into water buckets with droplets dancing inches into the air. Delicate curls of scale peeled from the ground surface of the shoe as it hunched under the hammer and over the anvil horn. The tap of the driving hammer looked like a powerful punch.

The high-definition vignettes of a horseshoer at work were eye-popping.

The credits hadn't even stopped rolling before I was dialing Bob's phone number.

Bob and Branton hadn't even seen the video yet, and now we're able to post it for all of you here, only 24 hours later.

This video is unscripted and, according to Bob, was created through the editor's ears and eyes, without any input from the Phalens. The film crew simply showed up and spent a day with Bob and Branton, and the editor wove together the vignettes of their comments with the spectacular work shots through editing, since there was no shooting script.

The story just emerged in an organic way.

It's nice that this video is about Bob Phalen, but everyone viewing knows that it's not about him at all. He just is speaking the minds of hundreds--maybe thousands--of farriers across the world who are reaching a certain age and looking back at what they've done with their hands and their minds and their skills over decades of helping horses or "slaying dragons" as the video suggests.

Farriery may be changing forever but for the men and women who have lived the life and done the job because their hearts were in it, there are few regrets. Aches and pains maybe, but few regrets.

If you're concerned that Bob is retiring, I can tell you that I saw him recently and he reassured me again on the phone that he is in good health, although the editing on the video makes it sound like he is hanging up his apron.

That'll be the day.

Cinematographer Bradley Stonesifer
It's appropriate that the film ends with the simple gesture of twirling a shoe around the hammer on the face on the anvil. It sums things up: farriery is part hard work, part skill, and it always helps if you can add in a little bit of magic, right at the end, because that is what they will remember.

I hope the farrier world embraces, shares and promotes this video.

Forget the words that sound like an ending and focus on what Bob says about getting up every day and doing what he wanted to be doing. Perhaps it is romantic and unrealistic to approach a profession as a "passion", to use his words, but it worked for him.


About the making of this film: Farrier was shot to illustrate the capabilities of a high-tech new camera, Vision Research's Phantom Miro M320S. This will be the first in a series of short films about craftspeople reflecting on their careers and how they found their purpose in life through their everyday work.

Thanks to Bradley Stonesifer for allowing the video to be posted for farriers and horsepeople around the world to see.

A Hollywood Special Ops & Island Creek Pictures Production
Bob & Brant Phalen of Phalen Horseshoeing and Supply
Rider: Racheal Johnson
Black Stallion: Constant
Brown Horses: Nikoo & Lilly
Director: Emily Bloom
Producer: Drew Lauer
Field Producer: Jerry McNutt
Cinematographer: Bradley Stonesifer
Camera Operators: Tim Obeck, Jimmy Hammond, Nick Piatnik
Editor: Patrick Chapman
Colorist: Aaron Peak of Hollywood DI
Audio Mixer: Michel Tyabji
Thanks to:
Bell Canyon Equestrian Center
To learn more: 

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