Trail End is a very personal project for me and had been evolving in my mind for quite some time.  The inspiration initially came from the desire to write a story that captured the relationship I have with my own horses and to show that friendship is not limited to humans.  I also wanted to do a film that showcased the beautiful scenery of Kansas, in particular western Kansas.  Many scoff at the notion that the word “beautiful” and Kansas can be in the same sentence.  But I know about some of the gems the state holds secret and I knew it would be amazing to reveal these stunning visuals on film.

Horses and scenery, but what about the story?  My mom grew up in western Kansas and our family were farmers there, so I drew upon life in the modern day plains and its characters.  On the surface, Trail End is about an old man and a horse riding across Kansas, but once we peel away the layers we discover that Trail End is actually a love story -- the love between Hank and Lilly; the love and friendship between Hank and Chip; and the love and pride Hank has for his homeland.   Making the ride for Lilly and saving the last leg of it through their home state gave so much more meaning to the trail.   Sometimes, the hardest path is the one that leads home.

I personally collect magnets from the places I visit and display them proudly on my refrigerator.  I guess so anyone who riffles through my refrigerator can have the joy of viewing the various states I have visited.  But I knew I couldn’t have Hank lugging around a refrigerator on the trail, so the quilt and hat pins became a more logical choice.  Plus the quilt represents more than an item to stick pins in.  The quilt has an abundance of metaphors, but most important, it is a symbol of Hank’s and Lilly’s love.  The quilt is all Hank physically has left of Lilly and this is why he carries it with him.  A cowboy only brings the necessities on the trail, so you know this quilt holds everything in the world to Hank.   

I knew finding the right actor and horse would be vital to this film.  I needed an actor who could act, ride a horse and was old enough to play the part, but not so old he would fall off.  Enter Barry Corbin.  For me, Barry will always be Uncle Bob from Urban Cowboy, but I also knew him from the nearly gazillion other roles he has done.  The decision was a simple one when I learned that Barry was a real horseman, not a movie cowboy, but a REAL cowboy.  I knew I had found Hank.  Fortunately, Barry felt the same way after reading the script.  Now to get his partner.  To make things more difficult, at least to the opinion of my head wrangler, I wanted to use an Appaloosa in the film.  Now if we needed to double the horse, a good paint job would be in order to match all those spots.  I contacted the Appaloosa Horse Club and they in turn put me in touch with Chip, an old Kansas ranch horse.  Chip had never been on a film set before, but you would never know it.  He quickly won over the cast and crew, and even my head wrangler.  Both Chip and Barry were a dream to work with and they have a chemistry that translates well on film.  Barry gives an emotional and touching performance as Hank, and I may be a bit biased, but I feel that Barry delivers some of his best work in Trail End.    

Location, Location, Location!  Some say scenery plays the third lead in Trail End.  I am one of those ‘some’.  However, writing EXT. - GYPSUM HILLS is one thing, filming it is entirely another.  Trail End was a challenging and often times grueling shoot.  Filming over 20 locations and logging 1,000 miles in less than a week is an undertaking to say the least.  Oh, and like most short films, all done on limited means.  Our cast and crew endured the elements and other obstacles that come unannounced when filming on location in the middle of the open range – ticks, poison ivy, rattlesnakes, scorpions, bison, etc.  Cell phone coverage?  Forget about it.  Often we felt as if we were riding the trail ourselves.  But how does that saying go?  “No pain, no gain.”  Or to let Robert Frost sum it up a little more poetically, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by.”  For our reward, we captured scenery that has never been filmed before and came away with a lovely film.  And yes, Virginia, there is beauty in Kansas. 

I am proud to share Trail End with the world.  I hope you enjoy it. 





director's statement