Horses that Heal is an 8 minute documentary that examines the impact of horses in healing wounded warriors returning from service, as well as local children with disabilities. The interviews of the wounded vets are particularly emotional, as they describe what they experienced at war before coming to Cornerstone.
Chad Boyer is the Executive Director of Horses that Heal and referred to by his colleagues as a “true filmmaker”. One of the producers, Sandra Yacura, a Coronado local, was introduced to Boyer by a mutual friend. Boyer recounts that “She [Sandra] took us up to Ramona to show us around Cornerstone Therapeutic Riding Center. We toured the ranch and we fell in love with the good work that is happening there, led by their Executive Director, Judy Beckett, and supported by her great and caring team.”
Yacura, who worked on the outline and storyboarding, goes into detail about her vision, “my goal for the film was to contrast the hell and noise that the veterans had experienced at war, with the quiet beauty of the horses and the ranch at Cornerstone. Some of these returning vets suffered so much at war that they couldn’t be helped by humans — that’s where horses step in, to reach beyond where humans can go.”
The Coronado Island Film Festival brings out all of the intricate pieces of making a good film. Boyer understands the different levels and how the many components are intertwined to make a worthy film. Boyer explains, “I believe film brings together all the threads of ‘Art’, be they writing, acting, photography, set design, choreography, music, etc. Each is an individual artistic discipline that film forges into a singly powerful piece of art.” A self proclaimed movie buff, Boyer expands on the movies he enjoys, “All kinds of movies, with the exception of modern Hollywood ‘tent-pole’ fare. I prefer the classics by the old masters, Hitchcock, Scorsese, Lean, Curtiz and Kubrick, along with some of the more recent masters like Ridley Scott and James Cameron.”
Boyer has an interesting background that feels like has shaped him to be the filmmaker he is today, “I have a background as a musician, writer and newspaperman and I think those disciplines inform my style. The lyricism of music provides the ‘beats’ of my films, being a writer helps me think in narrative flow in the edit bay and being a newspaperman, well, I don’t like to show off a lot, but rather to have my filmmaking be understated and reserved. That’s good journalism, where the writer understands they are not the story.”
The team faced challenges while creating Horses that Heal. Boyer tips his hat to the wise words of W.C. Fields, “‘Never work with children or animals’. They are, indeed, a challenge to work with. The animals, less so.” However, the challenges could not even come close to taking away from the rewards. When asked the most surprising thing he learned working at Cornerstone, Boyer said, “Just how many people a ranch full of horses can touch and heal, and the powerful effect these noble creatures can have on people who need help. Not to be too overly-romantic, but there does appears to be a certain magic happening at Cornerstone and I hope that’s visible in the film.”
Although he is certainly proud of and excited about his own project, Boyer says that this weekend at the Coronado Island Film Festival he is most excited “to see all the other movies I DIDN’T work on for months straight.”
Horses That Heal is one of the can’t miss films at Coronado Island Film Festival, to be shown Sunday, January 17th at 10:30 AM in the Black Box Theater.