A Cowboy’s Boot: Teasing out the story in post

Contributor Brad Stuckel of Plainsight Pictures has always loved the aesthetic at the Alberta Boots facility. With machines dating back to the early 1900s, it has a cool, vintage vibe. Brad wanted to capture that, along with the craftsmanship that goes into making cowboy boots.

So he and editor Kyle Sanborn loaded up the RED EPIC and spent a day shooting. On set, their goal was to record the precision and meticulousness of the process. So a lot of their focus was on the men’s deadly serious expressions as they cut, molded, hammered, and stitched a hide of leather into a cowboy boot.

Post-production is where the story got teased out. “Post is about telling a story and taking the audience’s eyes to where they subliminally want to look at that moment,” explains Brad. “It’s where you bring out the emotion captured through the lens.” In the edit, they used the men’s expressions to convey this is more than an assembly line, drawing a parallel between the bootsmiths and their equipment — both finely honed for the task.

Colorwise, Brad and Kyle went for a desaturated effect and embraced the facility’s earthy tones, to give the film a more rustic feel. They toyed with the idea of adding film grain to the footage to play up the old school feel but decided against that in favor of digital’s crisp, modern look. They didn’t want the film to feel that vintage.

When it came to pacing, they established a “chain-gang” kind of rhythm — steady and methodical. Kyle explains, “We wanted to give the story a gradual uplifting sense, so the audience walks away with a feeling of achievement.” The result is a cinematic portrayal of a little-known craft.

Footage from A Cowboy’s Boot is available starting at $50 per clip, exclusively from Dissolve.