The Life of Modern-Day American Cowboys

The Life of Modern-Day American Cowboys - Factual America Podcast

Cowboys are as American as hot dogs and apple pie. But what is life like for the modern-day American cowboy?

Filmed on eight of the nation’s largest cattle ranches across ten states in the American West, Cowboys: A Documentary Portrait (2019) provides an intimate look at life in the modern world for this most American of icons. 

A cowboy’s life has always been one of solitude and hard work. This is still the case. 

Even as they adapt to modernity, the modern-day cowpoke provides us with lessons in how to cope with isolation. But with cell phones and the internet becoming commonplace on the range, some long for the “good old days”.

The filmmakers behind this ode to the modern-day cowboy join Factual America to tell their compelling story. How did the filmmakers create such an intimate portrait? How did they gain ranchers’ trust while capturing the magnificence of the American West?

Director Bud Force is a former rodeo cowboy. His co-director, John Langmore, is a former working cowboy who spent five years photographing life on “big outfit” ranches.

Bud and John are joined on the podcast by Feli Funke, creative producer and author of Gathering Remnants – a Tribute to The Working Cowboy (2020), Emmy award-winning editor Lucas J. Harger and Ian McLeod of Cleod9 Music.

So join us, as we enter into the life of the modern cowboy…

“We’ve created this career out of trying to create cinematic footage in difficult conditions in the field. Whether it’s cowboying, ice climbing, or shooting scuba diving, you have to operate light and fast.” – Bud Force

Time Stamps:

02:56 – Today’s subject.
03:36 – Introducing the guests.
05:24 – Film festivals and awards.
06:31 – What the film is really about.
09:14 – The first clip: A truck driver and the harsh realities of cowboying.
14:03 – What life is like for American cowboys today.
17:06 – Second clip: How cowboying has changed in modern America.
19:35 – How ‘the cowboy’ is still a necessary role for raising cattle. 
24:40 – The lessons to be learned from cowboy culture.
27:28 – Third clip, and it’s testimony to the importance of trust and teamwork.
31:21 – The story behind the making of the film.
34:58 – Making the book ‘Open Range…’, and spending time on ranches.
36:29 – The different types of cowboys, and the difficulty of gaining access to authentic ranches. 38:44 – The risks involved with filming on one of America’s largest cattle ranches.
41:26 – Bud’s production company, and how they deal with difficult shooting conditions.
43:50 – The challenges involved with keeping the authenticity of the film when editing footage. 45:59 – The way the film is structured and why this format was followed.
47:34 – When Ian got involved with making the soundtrack for the film.
49:40 – The importance of having an outsider’s perspective when working with footage.
52:14 – What the response from ranchers has been.
55:34 – The changes to production because of Covid-19 and the lockdown.
58:16 – Faced with these challenges, what would a cowboy do?
1:00:19 – How to watch the film and contact the team. 


Cowboys: A Documentary Portrait
Follow the film on Facebook
Follow the film on Instagram
Ultralite Films
Cleod9 Music
How to Draw out Authenticity in a Documentary Edit
Alamo Pictures 

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Connect with Felicitas Funke:

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