Unbranded

Four friends embark on a sublime, life-chaning adventure. They are to travel on wild mustangs across the American West, from the Mexican to Canadian border through the majestic Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Glacier National Park.

  • Phillip Baribeau
    Director
  • Dennis Aig
    Producer
  • Phillip Baribeau
    Producer
  • Ben Masters
    Producer
  • Project Type:
    Documentary
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 45 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    April 1, 2015
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Mexico, United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Hot Docs
    Toronto
    April 25, 2015
    World Premiere
    Audience Award
Director Biography - Phillip Baribeau

Phillip earned a degree in Media and Theatre Arts from Montana State University in 2003. Following his passion for film, storytelling and adventure, he went to work in television and documentary filmmaking. Here he learned what it takes to produce a story while capturing engaging cinematic images. His most credited broadcast series are “Destination Extreme” on National Geographic (field producer/DP/editor), “Ax Men” on the History Channel (field producer/camera operator), MeatEater” on the Sportsman Channel (DP) and “Mountain Men” on the History Channel (camera operator). In 2008, Phillip founded Implement Productions, based in Bozeman, MT. Within Implement, he has worked on a wide range of films, television, web advertisement, events and commercials. His commercial clients include Teva Footwear, Black Diamond, Federal Ammunition and Sportsman’s Warehouse. In 2013, Phillip won Best Overall Film at the Baku film festival in Azerbaijan for the short film “Land of Fire.” Unbranded is his first director credit for a feature length film.

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Director Statement

The adventure started in the Fall of 2012 when Ben Masters called looking for someone to film him and three fellow Texans as they travelled by horseback over 3,000 miles across the American West. As a filmmaker passionate about documenting adventures in the outdoors, this sounded like an incredible project...only I didn’t know how to ride a horse! Ben wasn’t concerned, and said he’d teach me himself. Saddle sores aside, I knew this was a chance of a lifetime and something I couldn’t pass up. Later that Fall, Ben came to Montana where we connected and took the first steps in turning his vision into a reality. Pulling together footage on the mustang situation, conservation in the West, and why four young men were out to ride across America to prove the worth of these wild horses, we created our
Kickstarter trailer to raise funds to film their journey. The Kickstarter was a great success, not only did it exceed our goal, but it also attracted the attention of Cindy Meehl, director of the award winning film Buck. Cindy joined the team as Executive Producer, and the project really took off. With everything moving forward, I felt both excited and terrified, wondering how we were going to pull off filming a documentary of this scale...on the back of a horse. Almost all of my work is done in the
outdoors, but adding horses brought a whole new dimension to this project. Two weeks before the trip,
I headed to the San Pedro ranch in southern Texas, home of one of Ben’s fellow riders, Jonny, to figure out how to ride a horse and rig all of the gear. Our main camera needed to have a cinematic look that would capture the vast landscapes as we journeyed through some of the most scenic parts of the West. We chose the Canon C-500, nicknamed the “Princess,” which we rigged on top of the hard panniers on one of the horses. We also rigged a smaller Canon DSLR to the saddle horn for quick shooting from on the horse. One of the biggest obstacles was rigging the four guys with wireless mics. An external audio recorder to pick up the guys was carried in a saddlebag by Luke, who we coined the “audio horse.” You can see Luke, who I rode most of the trip, in many of the shots trailing behind the pack string with an empty saddle doing his job of picking up the audio. We also used GoPro cameras, a Panasonic camera set on full auto for the guys to shoot with when we weren’t documenting them and some aerial videography with a drone. The first month was hard, breaking ourselves into the ride and figuring out the production of shooting a backcountry pack trip. We learned quickly, and, fortunately, knew early on that we were going to capture an amazing story.