Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Interview: Sarah Crowe, Creator of Dyna Does Dressage Documentary

 Sarah Crowe and Amy Enser have been working on the project "Dyna Does Dressage," a documentary about Laura Hermanson and her mule Dyna, the first mule to ever compete in the U.S. Dressage Finals, which is an incredible feat.  Together, Laura and Dyna have defied the odds and realized their seemingly impossible dream.  Sarah and Amy were there to document it, and have since worked with Laura to record Laura and Dyna's backstory as well.  I had the opportunity to discuss the documentary with Sarah Crowe.

The Aspiring Equestrian: How did you get started filmmaking? What made you become interested in filmmaking?  

Sarah Crowe: I had a friend who went to film school and I helped out on all of the student projects. I fell in love with the process and from that friend’s networks started working and volunteering on film sets. Eight years later I am a professional producer and I direct and produce documentaries for the love of it. 

A poster by Isaac Novak.
TAE: When and where did you first meet Laura Hermanson?  

SC: I met Laura in Yosemite National Park.  We worked together in the back country. She was a packer that brought all of our supplies to the High Sierra Camps where I managed a back country retreat. We became fast friends and have supported each other in our careers and personal endeavors. Even after we both left Yosemite we stayed friends.

TAE: How did you become interested in filming the documentary Dyna Does Dressage about Laura and her mule, Dyna? 

SC: I have always known that Laura had a unique and interesting story. When she told me that she and Dyna were invited to the Finals, I helped her with some fundraising ideas and got her going with the GoFundMe page. In only 2 weeks she raised $11,000 and was flooded with an outpouring of support. When she called to say thank you, I knew that the timing was finally right and I asked her if I could join in Kentucky to document the adventure. She said, "Yes!" and has graciously allowed me to follow her around all over this year and is supporting me in telling her story in a full on documentary film.

TAE: What is your main purpose in filming it?  

SC: Laura’s story is the ultimate underdog story. Laura and Dyna’s journey have inspired so many people already. I want to share it with the world. 

TAE: Could you write a brief summary of the documentary? 

“Dyna Does Dressage” is a documentary about the first mule ever to compete at the national level in the competitive equestrian sport of Dressage. Defined by the International Equestrian Federation as “the highest expression of horse training,” the idea of mules competing at this level has never been considered.  This underdog story follows Dyna and her owner/rider, Laura, as they defy the odds to find their place among this elite world of horse riding.

A behind the scenes shot of Sarah Crowe(front right) filming Laura(at the left in the stall), her friend Casie(middle), her trainer Renee Johnson(right), and Dyna at the U.S. Dressage Finals. 
TAE: Could you tell me a little bit about what has gone into making the documentary? 

SC: I invested $8,000 of my own money, and flew to Kentucky in November 2014 to film Laura and Dyna competing at the U.S. Dressage Finals in order to film the origins of this story. My filmmaking partner Amy Enser has traveled with me to almost all of the locations and worked with me to capture the footage. She will also be editing the movie. We needed to raise an additional $15,000 to really make this happen. With a successful GoFundMe fundraiser of my own, together as a team we were able to travel to California and visit Laura where she lives and trains at the Oak Star Ranch with Dyna and her other mules. We went to Mule Days, which is one of the largest mule competitions in the world. In August we filmed in Yosemite National Park with Laura, to learn about the traditional roles of mules and see the place where she discovered and fell in love with them and then our last location was the USDF CA area 7 regional finals in CA, where we saw Laura competing at a proper horse show.

TAE: What has been the most exciting part about filming the “Dyna Does Dressage?”  

SC: The most exciting part of filming "Dyna Does Dressage" is being able to spend so much time with Laura this year. She trusted me through this whole process but over the course of these last 10 months she has opened up and truly forgotten that the camera was even there sometimes. She believes in me and is so supportive of this whole process, and so open to allowing me in her world with cameras. 
Laura Hermanson and BB at the Region 7 Dressage Championships

TAE: What has been the most difficult part?  

SC: The most difficult part of the process has been the challenge of recreating a story and showing the path of Laura after it had already happened. Traveling to so many places was necessary to tell the story. 

TAE: What is one thing you want people to know about the documentary before it is released? 

SC: I am so thankful for the support that both Laura and I have received on this journey of filmmaking and Laura’s work with the mules in Dressage and beyond. I appreciate everyone that is believing in us and supporting us. I can’t wait to share the finished product. 

TAE: Is there anything you would like to say about the documentary that I have not asked about?

SC: I  really hope that people enjoy the story and are inspired to take on their own dreams and adventures. 

Support "Dyna Does Dressage" by liking their Facebook page  You can watch the trailer here.  Photos are courtesy of Sarah Crowe, Amy Enser, and "Dyna Does Dressage."  The documentary  will be released in 2016. 


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