AN UPDATE ON THE SOON-COMING FILM
November 9, 2022
It’s been quite a journey for Feek’s Vision. We hit the ground running four years ago, becoming instant friends with the Tooke family, the leaders of the Carter County Museum, and the people of Ekalaka, MT – the home of Feek Tooke and his Bred to Buck program.
On most projects, Ken and I do everything ourselves – producing, writing, filming, editing; and Feek’s Vision started out no different than any of our small projects. But early on, we discovered that this story had major national significance. It immediately became the biggest project we’d ever taken on. Much bigger than the two of us could handle on our own, if it were to be done right.
Sabre Moore and the Board of Directors at the Carter County Museum got behind us as our fiscal agent, which allows us to receive donations through them so donors can claim tax benefits for their support. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds stays with the museum, to help them with proposed expansion and a large-scale Tooke Bucking Horse exhibit.
Through our working relationship with television producer, Kevin Holten, we had access to scores of rodeo cowboys, contractors and historians who had stories about Feek and his program, many of them having ridden Feek’s rankest horses. We now have a relationship with Dr. Greg Veneklasssen, the award-winning veterinarian who, with world champion saddle bronc rider, Clint Johnson, works daily to uncover insight to the genetics of outstanding rodeo broncs. The number of interviews filmed mounted to well over 100 hours of stories and first-hand Tooke bucking horse experiences.
Gaining support from the team at the PRCA, Ken was granted access to capture footage for Feek’s Vision at the NFR, both behind the scenes and in the arena. Hank & Lori Franzen of Powder River Rodeo graciously hosted Ken as, he followed and filmed their champion bucker, “Craig at Midnight”, from the ranch in Wyoming to Las Vegas and the NFR. Keith Marrington gave Ken VIP access to film during The Calgary Stampede. Similar credentials got Ken close to the action at The American. Access to rodeos came from everywhere, including the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale, Home On The Range Champions Ride, Brad Gjermundson Extreme Bronc Riding and, of course, Ekalaka’s own Ernest Tooke Memorial Match Bronc Ride.
The people of Ekalaka jumped on board when Ken decided to build his interpretation of the 1930s rodeo arena Feek and his brothers used when they first introduced the horses that would one day be recognized as the foundation for unmatched bucking horse breeding and performance. Mostly alone on the Tooke Ranch, Ken spent an entire summer building the arena. The community stepped up in big ways, helping Ken with supplies, tools and other equipment. They got dirty digging holes, hoisting logs and swinging hammers. They brought old cars and wagons out to the arena to help us set the scene. Then they turned out in costume, all smiles and energy, for a reenactment rodeo that would be captured for use in the film. Side note: That was so much fun that was discussion of holding a rodeo out on the Tooke ranch every year.
Rodeo and horse publications covered the film. Corporations and individuals made contributions. Non-profits like the Montana History Foundation and North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame found ways and means to aid the film in production. The energy and excitement was intense. It still is.
I had the idea to raise funds early to help pay an editor, a composer, an illustrator, and everyone else we’d need to complete a somewhat major film project. I felt we should offer an opportunity for folks to support production through DVD pre-orders. Well, it worked. We received immediate, impressive, enthusiastic support. We had no reason to believe that the film wouldn’t be completed in a timely manner. Who would have guessed that Ken, a very healthy 50-something, would have a heart attack? Who would have imagined that an international pandemic would rock our foundation? I guess, when you’re used to a comfy existence where things just “work”, having huge, back-to-back challenges just isn’t something you plan for.
Covid is far enough behind us that we feel it shouldn’t be affecting production anymore. But the aftermath lingers, and we struggle to raise enough funds to complete the film. The economy hit a major donor enough that he had to withdraw support. That hurt. We hurt for him, and we hurt for the film.
It’s always been important that we be ourselves when we speak to our supporters. That’s why I’m writing this letter to all of you. You have been amazing. We have offered (and will continue to offer) refunds on DVD pre-orders, no matter how recent or long ago they came in. We have had very few folks accept the offer. The message you’re sending is clear – you just want the film. As you can imagine, no one wants to see the film completed and in your hands more than Ken and me.
We can’t…and we won’t…give up.
So where are we?
Ken and I are speaking with potential sponsors who might replace the major donor we lost, and infuse our own money where we can. This is not an appeal for money from current supporters. It’s just where we are.
There’s quite a bit left to do, and I can’t give a release date right now. I can only tell you that we are still here. Still working. Still committed to bringing you a film worthy of the story. We could cut corners to get it done. But that’s not our nature, and you deserve better. The Tooke family deserves better. We want to give you something worth the wait. A quality film. A legacy film.
So, that’s it. I’ve shared my heart. We consider you friends. Some of you have been with us for all four years. You deserve the behind-the-scenes truth.
Thank you for being part of this strange, wonderful journey.