Private Project

WILD BEAUTY: Mustang Spirit of the West

An immersive journey into the world of wild horses, Wild Beauty illuminates both the profound beauty, and desperate plight currently faced by the wild horses in the Western United States. Filmmaker Ashley Avis (Disney's Black Beauty) and crew go on a multi-year expedition to uncover the truth in hopes to protect them, before wild horses disappear forever.

  • Ashley Avis
    Black Beauty, Adolescence
  • Ashley Avis
    Black Beauty, Adolescence
  • Edward Winters
    Black Beauty, Adolescence
  • Ashley Avis
    Black Beauty, Adolescence
  • Richard Avis
    Adolescence, Deserted
  • Jeremy Bolt
    Executive Producer
    Black Beauty, Event Horizon
  • Kai Krause
  • Ashley Avis
    Black Beauty, Adolescence
  • Guillaume Roussel
    Black Beauty, Smallfoot
  • Ashley Avis
    Key Cast
  • Dr. Yvette Running Horse Collin
    Key Cast
  • Erik Molvar
    Key Cast
  • Kimerlee Curyl
    Key Cast
  • Scott Beckstead
    Key Cast
  • Marty Irby
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Nature, Drama Participatory, Poetic, Participatory, Animals
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 39 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 9, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    600,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Arri Alexa
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Breckenridge Film Festival
    Breckenridge, CO
    United States
    September 18, 2022
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Boston Film Festival
    Boston, MA
    United States
    September 23, 2022
    East Coast Premiere
    Winner - Best Documentary
  • Red Rock Film Festival
    Cedar City, UTA
    United States
    October 14, 2022
    Utah Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Newport Film Festival
    Newport, CA
    United States
    October 19, 2022
    California Premiere
    Official Selection
  • DOC LA
    Los Angeles, CA
    United States
    October 21, 2022
    Los Angeles Premiere
    Official Selection
  • St. Louis International Film Festival
    St. Louis, MO
    United States
    November 3, 2022
    Missouri Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    United States
    November 14, 2022
    Florida Premiere
    Official Selection
  • MELECH Tel-Aviv International Film Festival
    November 15, 2022
    International Premiere
    Official Selection
Distribution Information
  • WME Independent
    Sales Agent
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Ashley Avis

Ashley Avis is a filmmaker and passionate, longtime equestrian. She is the writer, director and editor of BLACK BEAUTY (2020) for Disney+, starring Oscar winner Kate Winslet, Mackenzie Foy, and Iain Glen.

Black Beauty will mark Ashley’s forth feature film, in addition to directing hundreds of commercials and branded content to date.

Upcoming projects include writing directing CITY OF ANGELS for Warner Bros. & Perez Pictures, with Charles Roven and Paul Perez producing; as well as directing the time traveling love story THE SUMMER OF IMPOSSIBLE THINGS based on the novel by Rowan Coleman.

On the television side, Ashley is writing and show running the television series BREYER HOLLOW for Imagine Entertainment's Executive Producers Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Stephanie Sperber.

An editor of over a decade, she cuts the majority of her own work, including Disney's BLACK BEAUTY and her upcoming documentary, WILD BEAUTY.

In the fall of 2020, Ashley founded and launched The Wild Beauty Foundation— a nonprofit organization that hopes to illuminate key issues wild and domestic horses are facing today through entertainment, educational programs for children and teens, and on the ground rescue efforts of horses in need.

Ashley lives near the ocean with her husband and producing partner Edward Winters, and is the co-founder of Winterstone Pictures.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

The creation of this film was deeply personal on every level imaginable. In 2017, I was brought aboard to write and direct the modern day reimagining of Black Beauty— a classic novel that impacted so much of my childhood and great love of horses. I had no idea that my desire to honor Anna Sewell's original intentions would next lead to crafting a feature length documentary.

Not many people know that Anna Sewell wrote Black Beauty as an animal welfare plea, to raise awareness for the horses of her time in the late 1800s. In our story, Beauty is born into the world a wild horse, a purposeful change I made with the hopes of illuminating what wild horses are going through in the Western United States today.

In the creation of Black Beauty, it was quite important to me to authentically include real wild horse footage in the movie. To do it, my husband Ed and I cobbled together a small bit of financing ourselves to film for about two weeks in 2018 in remote Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. I was then able to cut this footage, which included the stunning horses of the iconic Onaqui herd outside of Salt Lake City in Utah— as if they were Black Beauty’s wild family. In addition to writing and directing both of these films, I also edited them. The documentary in particular was quite a feat to complete, with four years and over 40TB of footage to find our story.

That very first trip into the wild with the horses was life changing. And our small, brave documentary team of five soon realized— as we hauled our heavy Alexa, sticks, and drone on foot through miles of rough terrain— we had a unique opportunity and platform to tell this under illuminated story, long after the credits rolled on Black Beauty. So we kept going, putting together our financing bit by bit with people who thankfully believed in us. Over four years, we shot across the vast Western United States: from California, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Idaho, and Arizona. There were eleven flat tires, and plenty of questionable motel rooms along the way.

In the midst of all this, Ed and I started a nonprofit called The Wild Beauty Foundation, and began rescuing horses in need, while doing programs with kids to raise awareness through creativity.

What is perhaps most markedly special about this journey is that children around the world have already been impacted, and have begun writing us letters to send to lawmakers on their behalf to protect wild horses. The only way to express what it feels like to hold these hand written letters in our hands, or to stand amongst a herd of hundreds of wild horses at sunset, is pure joy. As David Thoreau so poetically described, there is a tonic to wildness.

We have now seen such profound beauty, as well as suffered the acute sadness of watching these highly intelligent creatures be decimated by cruel, antiquated helicopter roundups that take them away from their land, their families, and incarcerate them in long term government holding facilities, never to gallop again.

We have risked our lives to bring this project to a global audience, to show both the beauty as well as share the truth about why wild horses are disappearing— all with the goal that our storytelling can help make lasting change.

Thank you kindly for your consideration of our film, Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the West.

— Ashley Avis