Brett Fallentine - Director
Brett began his career working at Skywalker Ranch on Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Mentored by George Lucas, he left to attend USC’s Cinematic Arts program where he earned an MFA degree while working as James Cameron’s Assistant Editor on Avatar. After receiving multiple awards for his student films, he transitioned into commercial and documentary filmmaking in 2008. His commercials have garnered millions of views, several Webby Awards, and a Cannes Lion.
In 2018, Brett completed his first feature-length documentary titled Fire on the Hill. The film highlights Brett’s unique expertise for gritty storytelling in a stunningly, cinematic way. The film won Best Documentary at the L.A. Film Festival and the Creative Vision Award at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and distributed worldwide in 2019.
Making The Film
I came into this documentary like many first-time directors do—with a handful of assumptions of what the story could be and turned out to be anything but real. Take Chris, a young Black male from Compton, CA who enters into the world of professional rodeo. Like most, I assumed that he would encounter some level of discrimination. Yet what I discovered through his journey was a side of rodeo that operated more as a family than a group of opponents reaching for the top. Just as meeting the cowboys defied my assumptions about South Central, diving into the world of rodeo broke down the stereotypes of this culture that I didn’t realize I had.
In the same way, it’s my hope this film breaks down the many assumptions that we all make about the cultures that we don’t know. As the world steams towards division, this film attempts to show just how similar we are. I hope that audience members walk away with new insights and bridges into other cultural worlds throughout our Nation that can help us all to understand one another just a little bit more. This film could not have been made without the help of the many women and men who helped along the way. Those who didn’t make it into the film, helped out with photos and archival films. The PRCA, the entity in charge of pro rodeo, allowed us unparalleled access into their world and trusted us to tell this story truthfully and how our cameras saw it. And our own production staff rallied for years around this film with little to no pay because their hearts believed that this was truly an important story that must be shared. It truly was a tribe from all walks of life that rallied around this film.
Finally, I want to mention the cowboy as part of the American mythology. To me, a “cowboy” is neither man nor woman nor any race nor creed. It is value system that we hold ourselves to. Whether it’s helping those less fortunate, muscling through the hard times, or the relentless pursuit of justice, we all have our notions of what a “cowboy” means to us. Throughout the post process of this film, the editors and I constantly sought out what it means to be a cowboy in the eyes of our subjects. This eventually became the spine of each of their stories. Personally, I strive to my own inner cowboy and hope that this film will encourage audience members to ask what values they subscribe to in their own lives. I truly believe that if we all took a moment to reflect on our own inner-cowboys it would help plot a course to a more compassionate life for all.