Life in Strides

Jake, a young man with autism, has become a champion in therapeutic horseback riding. Jake’s mother Joanne has been by his side throughout his riding career, helping her son stay calm on his horse. Now, Jake is put to the test as he enters his first non-therapeutic riding competition, where the circumstances are outside Jake and Joanne’s control.

  • The 2017 Institute for Documentary Filmmaking
    Director
  • Patrick Foust
    Co-producer
  • Pauline Tran
    Co-producer
  • Nina Gilden Seavey
    Executive Producer
  • Chithra Jeyaram
    Executive Producer
  • Rory McFadden
    Associate Producer
  • Patrick Foust
    Writer
  • Logan Werlinger
    Writer
  • Pauline Tran
    Additional Writing
  • Souley Oumarou
    Story Concept
  • Pauline Tran
    Director of Research
  • Rory McFadden
    Director of Photography
  • Souley Oumarou
    Director of Photography
  • Logan Werlinger
    Director of Photography
  • Mehri Yavari
    Director of Photography
  • Robyn Ziperstein
    Director of Photography
  • Patrick Foust
    Additional Photography
  • Pauline Tran
    Additional Photography
  • Patrick Foust
    Supervising Editor
  • Rory McFadden
    Editor
  • Souley Oumarou
    Editor
  • Pauline Tran
    Editor
  • Logan Werlinger
    Editor
  • Mehri Yavari
    Editor
  • Robyn Ziperstein
    Editor
  • Patrick Foust
    Sound Recording, Design, and Mix
  • Rory McFadden
    Sound Recording, Design, and Mix
  • Souley Oumarou
    Sound Recording, Design, and Mix
  • Pauline Tran
    Sound Recording, Design, and Mix
  • Logan Werlinger
    Sound Recording, Design, and Mix
  • Mehri Yavari
    Sound Recording, Design, and Mix
  • Robyn Ziperstein
    Sound Recording, Design, and Mix
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    18 minutes 28 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 29, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    Yes
  • 2017 Institute for Documentary Filmmaking Student Showcase
    Washington
    United States
    June 29, 2017
  • Awareness Film Festival
    Los Angeles, CA
    United States
    October 14, 2017
    World Premiere
    Audience Award - Best Student Film
  • Austin Under the Stars Film Festival
    Austin, TX
    United States
    October 21, 2017
    Texas Premiere
    Best Editing
  • 10th Annual Chesapeake Film Festival
    Easton, MD
    United States
    October 29, 2017
    Best Student Short
  • Alexandria Film Festival
    Alexandria, VA
    United States
    November 12, 2017
    Virginia Premiere
Director Biography - The 2017 Institute for Documentary Filmmaking

Patrick Foust fell somewhat haphazardly into the world of documentary filmmaking. As a wide-eyed graduate of Georgetown University, he happened upon a position at a small production company in Maryland. With virtually no experience, Patrick quickly took to editing and soon found himself managing post production for a long-running PBS series. Since then, he has worked as an assistant editor for several award-winning documentary features.

Patrick recently went back to school, pursuing a Master’s degree in Communications, at which time he enrolled in the documentary program at George Washington University. He hopes to become a well-rounded producer and director so that he can create original, inspiring films.

Trained in public health and social change marketing, Pauline Tran aims to ignite social change through the intersection of strategic communication, research, and the art of storytelling. Pauline came to documentary filmmaking in search of a creative way to connect with people and communities and has fallen in love with the craft. She enjoys sharing human-centered stories and the overall filmmaking process from start to finish. 

Pauline holds an MPH in Public Health Communications and Marketing from George Washington University and a BA in Public Health and a minor in Education from University of California, Berkeley. A Californian native, Pauline currently resides in Brooklyn, NY and loves music, travel, and photography. 

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Director Statement

This past May, seven of us came together to work on our final film project, the culmination of a six-month intensive documentary filmmaking program at George Washington University’s Documentary Center. The program was led by Emmy Award-winner Nina Seavey, a 30-year veteran documentarian. Our team consisted of amateur filmmakers, four women and three men, who came from different backgrounds, each contributing a unique perspective on filmmaking. Our common thread was a passion for storytelling.

With only two months to produce a short documentary, we confronted many challenges during the filmmaking process, including limited resources and the difficulty of working with horses. However, we were deeply inspired by our subjects, Jake and Joanne Luoma, and were continually motivated to do their story justice.

Life in Strides explores the powerful mother-son relationship between Joanne and Jake.

Jake, a young man with autism, faced many naysayers throughout his life. Joanne was told Jake would never be able to speak, graduate, get a job, or live a fulfilling life. Through perseverance and hope, Jake has not only done all of those things, but has also become a champion in therapeutic horseback riding, as demonstrated by the countless ribbons he has collected over a 16-year riding career. However, Jake still faces challenges with new situations. This film follows Jake as he participates in his first non-therapeutic horseback riding competition among the general public. As Jake’s number one supporter, Joanne fears that the stress of a new, more difficult competition can cause Jake to have a meltdown.

Life In Strides examines the profound impact of a mother’s love for her child, but also raises awareness about autism and therapeutic horseback riding. Our film also explores the themes of hope, perseverance, and human resilience. We hope to share this uplifting story with audiences across the globe.