Experiencing Interruptions?

A Horse, A Convict, A Chance for Change

Changed by his love for a wild mustang, a high-risk convict struggles towards a brighter future. His horse, Zephyr, leads a parallel path.

  • Autumn Payne
  • Autumn Payne
  • Autumn Payne
  • www.bensound.com
  • ARTiria Productions
  • Allegory Music
  • Autumn Payne
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    22 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 6, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    1,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Animal Film Festival
    Grass Valley
    United States
    February 17, 2018
    First Place - Audience Choice Award
  • Sacramento Film & Music Festival
    Sacramento, CA
    September 29, 2018
    Best Documentary Short - Jury Award
  • EQUUS Film Festival
    Brooklyn, NY
    November 30, 2018
    Official Selection
Distribution Information
  • www.sacbee.com
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Autumn Payne

Autumn Payne is a documentary photojournalist and videographer for The Sacramento Bee. Community service is behind all of the work that she does. Her visual journalism has helped raise more than one million dollars in community donations for individuals and organizations in need through The Sacramento Bee's Book of Dreams. She also wrote and photographed a weekly column profiling community volunteers called I Care.

Payne has won multiple awards for her work, including first place for Best Short Multimedia Piece called "Homeless Man Goes Home" from the San Francisco Bay Area Press Association.

For her work on child abuse she won the Society of Professional Journalists First Amendment Award for Interactive Media, the People Helping People "Dick Cable Media Award" from Community Link, The National Council in Crime and Delinquency PASS Award among others.

Her photography and video work has been published world-wide and has also won awards and recognition from the following organizations:

National Press Photographers Association (NPPA)
Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar
California Press Photographers Association (CPPA)
California News Publishers Association (CNPA)
Pennsylvania Press Photographers Association (PPPA)
Children’s Advocacy Institute
College Photographer of the Year International (CPOYi)
Hearst Foundation

As a student she twice won Photographer of the year for the San Francisco Bay Area Press Association.

Autumn Payne is now presenting her first documentary short film to the public.

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Director Statement

This story found me. While on assignment for The Sacramento Bee to document a horse adoption at the Rio Cosumnes Correction Center, the emotional sister of one of the inmates tapped me on the shoulder and told me her brother's story. She had tears in her eyes as she said that she had never seen her brother show so much love or affection as he was giving to the horse he had trained. This inmate, Chris Culcasi, desperately wanted to go to farrier school to pursue a career working with horses but didn't have the funding to do so. She feared that without support he would go back to his criminal lifestyle.

There is no doubt that The Wild Horse Program gets wild mustangs adopted, saving the taxpayers millions of dollars and there is no doubt that the inmates are experiencing an emotional transformation that leaves them open to changing their lives. But my question was, what would happen to this one inmate upon his release? Would the empathy that he developed for a horse lead to anything in the real world? What type of support from the community was needed to make rehabilitation for him complete? This documentary explores the depths to which one must delve in order to find the willingness to change, and the support that's needed, both on a personal and institutional level to make it possible to prevent recidivism.

I believe it takes a village to support any human being to reach their full potential. With sweat, fire and metal Chris Culcasi crafted a horseshoe for me as he worked towards forging a changed life for himself. Can people really change, as metal in fire can? Through making this documentary I have witnessed that the answer to this question begins with love. The ending is much more complicated.