Over the past few years, there have been a number of horses seized due to hoarding amid deplorable conditions -- but several of the rescued horses are now making breaking into show business.
For many, the ticket to fame involves being in the right place at the right time. The same is true for the horses featured in a short film shot in Minnesota.
Many horse rescue groups have helped save the lives of malnourished animals and find them new homes. For neglected horses, many on the verge of starvation, the Truhaven Ranch is their last resort. Now, a group of those rescued horses have supporting roles in a classic western shot on location.
Conrad Flemming produced the short film "Three Card Draw" for the Z-Fest Film Festival. Despite the subtle visual effects, it's shot entirely in Winsted, Minn.
"There's one shot we had to edit just right because there was a vehicle driving by as we were filming," he said.
Flemming's mother operates Truhaven, and she was on board from the beginning because she felt it would be a rewarding experience for the animals.
"The horses get lots of extra attention and that's something really special," Candy Phillips said.
The film took nearly 6 months to complete and had almost no budget.
"The biggest challenge was getting actors who weren't used to riding … used to their horses," Flemming said.
Everyone from local actors and crew to horse wranglers volunteered for the production, including Director Mike Ascher.
"We've got a couple of loners in it. We've got somebody who's looking to make themselves better; we've got a bounty hunter," he said. "I'm really a big fan of the old westerns, and that's kind of what got me interested."
Four of the five horses featured in the film were rescued; however, they were not actually present during the gunshots thanks to some clever editing.
"You gotta have our gun fight," Flemming said. "It's only 7 minutes so we packed as much as we could into it."
The film will be one of 41 screened next Wednesday and Thursday at the Riverview Theater. More information can be found online here: http://www.z-fest.com/