For the horse trainer known for his respect and consideration of the horse, Mark Rashid’s journey of seeing his first novel, “Out of the Wild,” transformed into a feature film has been a lot like his horsemanship.
“And no matter what area you’re working on,” he added, “the consistency, consideration and integrity are always centered on helping the horse feel better at the end of the session than at the beginning.”
Birth of the Idea
About 20 years ago, Rashid’s primary job was overseeing the horse program at a guest ranch, and he taught an occasional clinic as time allowed. While teaching at a clinic, one of the students really enjoyed his quiet and effective manner with horses and presented an intriguing offer: if Rashid wrote a screenplay, her husband – a film producer – would make it into a movie.
He thought writing a script might be fun, so he set out to write a story. As every writer knows, it’s best to write about the world you know. So, he set his screenplay at a guest ranch, focused on the successful work he has done with Mustangs over the years, and included a cowboy as one of the main characters.
The Waiting Game
It turns out that writing the screenplay was the easy part of getting the film produced.
“The producer shopped the screenplay around Hollywood, and it got a lot of interest,” said Rashid. “Lee Majors bought the option to produce it and it was going to feature Majors and Robert Redford’s daughter as the lead characters.”
Then, the writer’s guild went on strike, and Majors’ 90-day option expired. The project sat for several months.
The Hallmark Channel was next to show great interest and all was moving forward; that is, until the editor who was working on the project was fired. When she left, so did the opportunity with Hallmark.
After this, Rashid put the film project on the back burner. “I wanted to learn more about the characters,” he said, so he turned to writing a novel from the screenplay. “Out of the Wild” was published in 2010 and once again, he moved on to other projects in his life, with teaching horsemanship, the martial art of Aikido, and working with horses as the foundation.
About a year later, the screenplay garnered interest again, and, “As with most film projects, the biggest challenge centered around raising money,” he said. A few well-funded groups expressed interest in making the film.
However, turning over the screenplay to these groups would mean that he, his wife Crissi McDonald, and other key individuals would no longer be involved.
“I turned down a lot of money,” he said, “because I would not jeopardize the horses, my horsemanship, the characters and integrity of the project.”
In the meantime, the project piqued the interest of a new group who wanted to share the vision and the power of the story. Two major investors stepped forward to begin the process of bringing screenplay to film.
“They share our integrity and are fully supportive of presenting the way I’ve been taught to work with horses,” said Rashid. “For example, when Mustangs are brought from the wild, they generally will run if they’re stressed, rather than buck, rear or strike. While those behaviors might be more ‘exciting’ for the audience, they’re not realistic, at least not in the way I strive to work with horses. More importantly, if a horse is pushed to defend himself with these actions, it’s not helping the horse at all.”
“Out of the Wild” will capture Rashid’s true work and approach to working with horses, and there won’t be any horse stunts done for dramatic effect. “What’s captured on film will be what we do all the time with our own horses, and it’s our horses that will be used in the film.”
Rashid describes the film as an honest view of the horse-human relationship that is possible when it’s approached in a quiet way.
As those who have worked with Rashid in clinics, as well those who have read his many wonderful books – which often teach through stories – are aware, his approach to horsemanship builds trust and a true partnership of two thinking, willing individuals who consider the other’s point of view.
“This film is what I do every day, and it will honor the integrity of working with horses,” said Rashid. “It may present a little different approach of horsemanship than some people are aware of, and perhaps it may change a little bit how people view their work with horses. To me, it’s a way of working with horses that’s really nice.”
Filming and Distribution
“Out of the Wild” begins filming in mid-September 2015, with the majority of the scenes taking place in Nevada. After the film is produced, the team will enter it for consideration with several film festivals, where it will debut in 2016.
For more information, visit www.outofthewildmovie.com.
To read more about Mark Rashid’s work and horsemanship, visit www.markrashid.com.
Kara L. Stewart is a frequent contributor to Horse Illustrated and now resides in California with Eddie the Arab. Her book, “Advanced Western Riding,” second edition April 2014, published by I-5 Publishing, is available through HorseChannel.com and amazon.com.