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The Houston man’s documentary about cowboys on different continents will start streaming next week

The Houston man’s documentary about cowboys on different continents will start streaming next week

Cowboys Without Borders documentary director Gaston Davis poses on Sunday, July 3, 2022 in Sugar Land, Texas.

Photo: Go Nakamura / Contributor

As a boy growing up in the Clear Lake area, Gastón Davis had a different life that he looked forward to each summer. His late grandfather owned Pecan Spring Ranch between the central Texas towns of Menard and Brady, just off Highway 190, and introduced him to ranch life.

His late grandfather owned Pecan Spring Ranch between the central Texas towns of Menard and Brady, just off Highway 190, and introduced him to ranch life. “I wanted to learn from him,” says Davis, noting that the ranch had been in the family since 1880. “And working with cattle, goats, sheep and repairing fences. So it’s always been in my blood, working in the agricultural industry, but I’ve never lived it day to day, all my life … Heard his stories about cowboys in the old days, he worked on horseback all day … These days, not many cows work on horseback in many of these ranchers. “It’s done on the back of a pick-up. So I thought, man, that’s really cool. It really excites me.”

Now Davis, 28, has found a way to bring together the two sides of his upbringing – the suburban kid who became a film student at the University of Texas Austin and the ranch that helped his grandfather – with “Cowboys Without Borders” (available July 12 on Amazon, Apple TV, iTunes and other streaming services), his debut film and a lovingly shot documentary about ranch life in four different regions: Texas, Mexico, Montana and Argentina.

Film director Gaston Davis leads a cow into the bin at RA Brown Ranch in Throckmorton, TX.

Photo: Alex Walker

Although his current job has nothing to do with the cowboy way or the movie – Davis sells steel roofing materials in North Texas – he had long wanted to celebrate the modern cowboy, but not just those in the United States, an approach triggered by a trip to the South -America years before. “My father, when he was 17, moved to Chile. He jumped on a barge ship and went down there, lived with the captain of the ship’s family for four months and learned Spanish, says Davis. “So right after college I jumped on a plane.”

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But instead of living with a ship captain, Davis ended up as a vagabond vaquero, helping out on ranches in Argentina, Paraguay, Chile and Uruguay.

“I realized it’s not just cowboys in Texas,” he says. “They are not just in Montana. They’re in Mexico. They are in Argentina, Paraguay. They’re everywhere. And it is a universal language. And it was something I just understood what story I was going to tell. Not everyone gets to take the trip I had to take, but I felt equipped to tell that story. “

“A UFO hovers around”

But what he did not realize five years ago was how long it would take to get together. “I found myself in a situation where ignorance is happiness,” he explains. ‘I did not know what I was getting into. I thought it would take, maybe, a year to put together. But, boy, it took me 18 months just to edit the footage. “

Then there was the issue of funding. An Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign raised $ 8,000, says Davis, while the rest of the $ 35,000 budget came from himself and his family.

He chose his destinations through a matter of deliberation and luck. “I knew we needed to go to Mexico because Mexico is where the Texas cowboy is inspired by. Because, as it explains in the movie, when the cattle moved north, so did the vaqueros, and they taught the Texans how to handle and handle cattle. So if you want to talk about the cowboy, you have to talk about the vaquero, and you have to go to Mexico. “

Director Gaston Davis and Ranch Foreman Martin smile at the camera after their interview where they discuss the truth about Vaquero in the movie ‘Cowboys Without Bordes’

Photo: Alex Walker

As for Montana, it came through a tip from his then job at the Texas Department of Agriculture. “Wyoming’s Agriculture Commissioner Jason Fearneyhough, we built a good relationship and I told him what I was doing. And he said, ‘You have to go to Montana. You have to work with Richard Roth at IX Ranch.’

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His reception varied from region to region. “In Montana, I felt the most resistance because – I do not know it was – I think some of the guys with a camera in front of them, they are a little sheep,” Davis recalls. “Basically, I think beautiful things do not ask for attention … And so for people sometimes in that, if a camera comes in front of them, they may be a little resistant to it.”

It was different in Latin America where his presence was at first mystifying, but eventually accepted. “It can just as easily be like a UFO hovering around. It was like “What is this?”, Says Davis. “I felt the slightest resistance in those places … They were just like ‘Hey, this guy is new, he seems like he wants to work with us. Let’s do it’.”

One of the film’s most striking scenes is one in total silence that was recorded while Davis was working with a group of Argentine cowboys. “It was really special that they didn’t have to talk much,” he says. “It reminded me to just be humble, be gentle, be a little low and not think too highly of yourself … They are just very humble figures that I connected to because of their humility and their ability to just be in at the moment, do not be on their phones all the time.They did not even have telephones. “

It’s just one of the striking images in a film that, thanks in part to Alex Walker’s lively cinematography and Bobby Villarreal’s haunting score (which brings to mind Explosions in the Sky’s songs used in the Texas set “Friday Night Lights”), often leaves the landscape and the light speaks.

What’s next?

Now that “Cowboys Without Borders” is over, Davis – a new dad with a three-month-old son – is not sure what’s next. Although his in-laws still live in the Houston area – in fact, he and his wife, Kathryn, “met sweet” at The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation where he was a supplier and she was a customer – he and his family now live in Fort Worth where he would like to continue making films.

He says that producer / actor Wyatt McCrea, the grandson of the famous actor Joel McCrea, told him that “Cowboys Without Borders” made him cry and that he should get it in front of Kevin Costner and writer / director Taylor Sheridan from “Yellowstone”. “fame.

More information

‘Cowboys without borders’

Not rated

When: Launched July 12

Where: Amazon, AppleTV / iTunes, GooglePlay and various streaming services. DVD copies will be sold at Barnes & Noble, Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

“I love working with my hands. I love working in the steel industry. If I can find a way to balance the two and continue to create projects, I will, he says. “And I’m going to do it with or without the help of a Kevin Costner … But, boy, it would be great to have more resources, more people with whom we can build relationships and create westerns. Hollywood started with westerns and I think there will always be a place for it … This is a starting block, a springboard. So I do not know where it goes from here. “

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  • Cary Darling

    Cary Darling started in the Houston Chronicle in 2017 where he writes about art, entertainment and pop culture, with an emphasis on film and media. Originally from Los Angeles and educated at Loyola Marymount University, he has been a reporter or editor at the Orange County Register, the Miami Herald and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In addition, he has freelanced for a number of publications, including the Los Angeles Times and the Dallas Morning News.

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