I am a huge fan of HORSEFLY FILMS. I’ve written about their beautiful, moving and inspiring films. They do an excellent job both in production and research. They are the real deal.
Sophie and Jen have a new film about the California Camarillo White horse.
They need just a small amount to finish it. Are you interested?! Read on!
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FROM HORSEFLY FILMS
STALLION OF A DREAM spotlights a rare horse breed forged in the history & mythology of the Golden State. Now extremely endangered, the Camarillo White Horse embodies the collective dream of California and a cultural beacon of hope for a new generation of Californians trying to save them.
28 Days, 16 Hours Left
As women filmmakers, we represent gender equality in film. In a current climate in which Hispanic-Americans are under cultural attack, our film celebrates California’s Hispanic roots, creating positive role models for identity and sparking cross-cultural recognition of our origins as Californians.
About The Project
STALLION OF A DREAM: California and the Camarillo White Horse is a feature documentary film (56 minutes) that tells the story of the rare Camarillo White Horse. It is the quintessential California story of immigration and empire-building, and of the roots of cultural and social change, told through the Camarillo family who came from Mexico in the 1830s in a quest to realize their dream.
Into the cauldron of desire, possibility and the alchemy of transformation that was early California, came the aristocratic Spanish colonists known as the Californios, among them the Camarillos. The pastoral era of Rancho life was steeped in romantic Spanish traditions and all things equine. In this early California landscape horses were more than a conveyance or a tool for work— the horse was, like the car a century later, a deep reflection and expression of personal identity. Nowhere was the connection with one’s horse and incredible and daring riding skills more appreciated than by the gallant and bold Californios.
In California the horse has been singularly central to our early history, tradition and cultural identity. In STALLION OF A DREAM we spotlight a genetically and historically unique rare breed forged deep in the history and shifting mythology of the Golden State. Beginning with the Camarillo’s arrival in California with the Hijar expedition in 1834 aboard a ship that may or may not have contained Napoleon’s doom within its planks, our film tells the story of one family’s rise to prominence. The Camarillo family eventually settled in Ventura County, purchasing the original Ruiz Spanish land grant and transforming the wild landscape of the California pastoral era of the Rancheros. Despite his critics, Camarillo was a visionary and drove the shift from the booming cattle trade toward a managed, agricultural paradise, which is reflected in the transformation of Rancho Camarillo. Adolfo Camarillo’s progress and embrace of the vanguard mirrored California’s own spirited ethos and march toward modernization. California’s very name is a fiction of an exotic and fantastical Utopia. California embodies the bold tension held at the western edge of a vast continent, the lure of whatever comes next. We boldly exclaim ourselves in our state of mind and in our state motto “Eureka!”, meaning “I have found it!” , but what is it Californians have found? Gold? The next freeway exit? A dreamer’s Paradise? For the Camarillo family, the dream began with a horse.
Adolfo Camarillo was a California visionary and his greatest vision would arrive, most appropriately, on the back of a horse. In the 1920’s he created a new breed of horse to bear his name: The Camarillo White Horse. Adolfo, with his stallion Sultan, embarked on an equine journey that would become more than a personal identity or brand. The White Horse would become his family legacy; their gift to California and the world. An icon of Adolfo’s forward, revolutionary thinking, Sultan not only gave Adolfo considerable physical stature, together they became ambassadors for the Camarillo family and for California at large. One is hard-pressed to find an animal so synonymous with one place. Everyone who encountered the rare white horse and the Spanish horseman astride him had the same passionate reaction— with a presence evocative of both California’s storied past and bright white future, Adolfo and Sultan ignited a spark in spectators everywhere, embodying all that was good in the collective dream of California.
Adolfo Camarillo was an astute businessman with a great grasp of the value of PR and over the next fifty years the Camarillo White Horses were paraded hundreds if not thousands of times locally, nationally and even internationally with many broadcasts of their rides in the Rose Parade, the Opening of the Oakland Bay Bridge and an appearance in the Opening Ceremonies of the 1932 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
The Camarillo White Horses because synonymous with old California values, a fact not lost on politicians who borrowed their magnificence to their own ends in political campaigns of every ilk. In a pre-televisionworld, dignitaries and mayors clamored to beseen riding the Camarillo Whites where they could make a splash in the press. Political hopefuls of every stripe, from President Harding to Governor Ronald Reagan rode the horses in parade, keenly aware that Adolfo Camarillo’s stellar reputation across the Golden State was tantamount to an endorsement of political virtue. They were quite literally playing the part of the hero on the white horse.
It was not just the advent of the automobile which would push these horses to the brink of extinction. Just when history was cementing these icons into California history, controversial family decisions and bitter strife pushed the horses towards an almost inevitable and unceremonious end. Long held by Camarillo family members only, some felt this horse was theirs and only theirs— not just by birthright, but by their identities as Californians. The future of the horse was on a precipice.
With breed numbers floundering at a mere eleven horses left on earth, it was at a final contentious auction that outsiders swooped in 28 years ago to save the horse for future generations. In recognizing their own personal identity as Californians and what they felt was their connection to these endangered horses, the Camarillo White Horse had transcended the domain of a single family and become the property of Californians everywhere who rejoiced in their salvation.
Today, spectators of these horses still rejoice as Camarillo family members work diligently alongside non-family to create a viable future for these beloved horses that are living vessels of history. Away from public parade however, a different view emerges. The work of breed conservation is a constant struggle and the future of these horses is anything but secure. The next challenging reality that White Horses of Camarillo faces is how viable is their future for with little to no connection to California’s youth? The people involved in saving and perpetuating the breed are up against time itself and the burning question is how can these horses survive the next decade, let alone the next century? How can tangible intergenerational learning occur? How can California’s youth not only be made aware of their heritage but become excited enough in recognizing themselves in our collective history that it ignites their passion to continue what Adolfo Camarillo started a hundred years ago? Will they adopt his dream as their own?
CONCEPT AND THEMES
Despite modern technology making horses obsolete for many, the debt to history remains. From the sword to the plowshare, horses are an integral part of who we are, of who we became, and though the culture of the horse is intangible and cannot be preserved in a museum, it is something we can reflect upon and explore with film narrative. Using the equine as a central focus and unusual lens on humankind’s saga brings into sharp focus our agrarian and warlike histories, our spiritual connections and the ongoing battle to preserve our unique heritage in the face of rapid globalization.
As mankind built civilizations on the backs of horses, we owe our victories, our survival, our enriched culture to the noble horse. There are many equine breeds and cultures close to extinction, and without the help of a dedicated few, this valued bond between humankind and horse is sure to be lost. The Camarillo White Horse is one such rare breed and this film will help highlight the precarious position and ongoing revival of these horses and the people who are trying to save them by bringing their uniquely fascinating history to the screen.
Throughout the film’s rich narrative, we focus on broad themes of California’s transitioning personal identity as a direct correlation of the evolution from horse to automobile, shifting attitudes on race and social status in California, the disconnect of today’s youth with our collective history and the ongoing fight to halt this rampant cultural memory loss in future generations. The thread of diversity in all its forms in California— old, young, Hispanic, non-Hispanic— is prevalent throughout the film’s focus. The preservation of memory and California’s heritage and the celebration or mourning of any part of that cultural spirit is inclusive of us all, requiring us to view ourselves first as Californians. This is not just the story of the Camarillo family as the “other” but rather a film exposing one of the roots and key components of California identity, as played out in the ever-unfolding story of the Camarillo White Horse.
Unlike any other domesticated animal on earth, the horse, and mankind’s relationship with it, has changed drastically and permanently in just the last hundred years. With the advent of the automobile, it is a loss we barely even register, all but slipping into the past unnoticed. This massive shifting of our connection with the equine and of their practical usefulness to us has profound effects on our culture and our idea of ourselves. In California, the automobile has been embraced so passionately and engrained so deeply, it is part of our cultural DNA. Nowhere else has our relationship with Horsepower undergone such a drastic sea change as in this home of car culture and the call of the open road. From the days of the Rancheros, Californians have sought a faster, better, slicker means of locomotion, but before lowriders and hotrods, surf woodies and the LA freeway, California was the birthplace of a singularly unique breed of horse that set it apart.
CREATIVE APPROACH, STYLE AND COLLABORATORS
In making this film we are working with all of the people involved in the breed, the Camarillo White Horse Association, the Camarillo family and board of the Camarillo Ranch House. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winning historian of the American West, Dr. Alan Taylor of UC Davis /University of Virginia and California historian and horseman, Dr. Al Hurtado of the University of Oklahoma are joining the team as Humanities advisors.
Synthesizing visual beauty and academic scope, the film will feature our signature acclaimed cinematic visual style, blending breathtaking footage of larger- than-life horses that leap from the screen, adept re-creations of key historical moments, in-depth interviews, authoritative and compelling script, lush score and a treasury of archival materials including vintage never-before-seen film, photographs, newspapers, paintings and the private family diaries. As well as the current oral histories uncovered in interviews, we are amassing a body of rich, diverse archival materials from repositories as disparate as the International Olympic Committee, the Smithsonian’s Autry National Center, the Camarillo family, wax cylinder music recordings by Charles Lummis and the Tournament of Roses Rose Parade, in order to creatively tell the compelling story of these horses and their enormous ongoing cultural impact and relevance in California.
This film will be the sixth film in our series of documentaries of the Horsefly Films’ Rare Equine Trust, an ongoing cinematic library dedicated to exploring diverse cultures, rare equine breeds and unique stories and cultural histories centered around the horse. We are experts in telling these kinds of stories and our films are not only screening worldwide, but are fulfilling our mission to effect change and raise awareness.
We’ve already done a LOT on this film. In fact, we’re about halfway. We write, shoot edit and wear as many hats as possible for 2 people to wear. But to get this film completed, there are some things we can’t do– and that’s why we need your help! We still need to pay for things like:
Archival photos & footage
Historical Picture Car
One of the prizes for donating is MEETING a true California Camarillo White!
This is so cool. I love horses and work in Camarillo and knew nothing about this breed. Can’t wait to see the film and love to support female filmmakers!!! Best of luck to these ladies and the Camarillo White Horse Breed. Thanks for sharing Dawn. This film should be shown in elementary, jr High and high school history classes in all of Ventura county for a start!!!! Sure would love to see one in person