“They are the hope for what the promise of America used to be,” said Katy about the Wild Mustangs that roamed the Wyoming plains. The young 16-year-old girl had learned a lot from “Flicka,” the mare that she saved from the wild and became her guiding light. “Flicka,” the movie will debut in movie theaters on October 20, 2006 and will take you on this journey with Katy, beginning with her return home from Boarding School with failing grades, to her discovery of the 2-year-old mare, through her battles with her dad and ultimately to an understanding about herself, the mare and her family. This is an adventure the whole family can enjoy.
Katy McLaughlin was raised by her mom Nell (played by Maria Bello) and her dad Rob (Tim McGraw). She had a brother Howard (Ryan Kwanten) who unlike Katy didn’t come alive when working on the ranch. He dreamed of a more urban lifestyle for his future. Yet for Katy the ranch was everything. She was the only daughter in a long line of ranchers and she loved the horses and the Quarter Horse Ranch that her family ran.
It was early in the movie when Katy met Flicka and it was the connection they made when their eyes met that will stay with you. They were a pair who needed to learn from each other. “I see in them my own restless spirit,” said Katy about the Wild Mustangs. Flicka was a perfect example – free, wild, determined yet underneath that exterior was a loving spirit.
“When they take to the land they are pure power,” was how she described the Wild Mustangs. She names the brilliant black mare Flicka after a ranch hand translates its meaning from Swedish as a young innocent girl, a pretty girl. Katy like Flicka is also young and beautiful and they both have that same wild spirit and bold strength that her father misinterprets. Yet it is those characteristics that ultimately help them all to understand each other.
Katy fights with her dad to save Flicka from the fate of a mountain lion that she worries will kill the young horse but her dad will not hear of it. Finally, they capture and corral Flicka but Katy is told to stay away. And so the story unfolds with lots of twists and turns and lessons to be learned as Katy and her dad battle out the duplicity of their personalities.
“Try and understand what it’s like to feel responsible for something you love so much,” said her mom to Katy in an effort to help Katy identify with her dad. Secretly Katy is learning from the mare she feels responsible for and the lessons to adulthood begin.
THE MANY MESSAGES
Flicka is a movie of messages and a movie that Lohman really wanted to do. “I wanted to work with the director and I always wanted to do a horse movie,” she explained. “I love the outdoors. And here was this movie about a girl on a ranch wanting to preserve the spaciousness of her land and prevent it from going to commercial development.”
Yet it was more than that for Katy. It was about “preserving the freedom and beauty of the Wild Mustang, something that is that rare.”
In her goal to preserve those prairie horses she had many confrontations with her dad. “Her father was rebellious,” explained Lohman. “Her father at that age was probably who she is. I think she is just following what she wants.
“She saw her spirit in this Wild Mustang,” continued Lohman. That spirit was something her father was trying to destroy but in the end they both learned “that having a free spirit was okay and should be encouraged. You gain strength and it gave her strength.”
BEHIND THE SCENES WORKING WITH THE HORSES
Movie goers will witness a lot of horse action in the movie. The man pulling it all together was Rusty Hendrickson. Movie sets are not new to Hendrickson or his horses. While the horses have spent much of their lives in front of the camera, Hendrickson has spent most of his behind the scenes teaching the actors to ride, choosing the right horses for the scenes, color matching the horses and having doubles do some of the faster paced action packed work.
Most of the horses used in the filming of Flicka were from Rusty’s own herd and have appeared in other movies as well. The main Flicka was a horse named Ribbon. They chose Ribbon because of this horse’s “facial expressions and personality,” explained Hendrickson. “Because of the nature of the story the horse is supposed to have some life. This is not a dangerous horse, but a very lively, energetic and spirited animal.”
While Ribbon was used when the camera was focused on the horse’s facial expressions it was Pablo who they used “anytime there would be a lot of close up action on Alison where the horse had to stand perfectly still by the camera,” explained Hendrickson. Pablo was used for Mel Gibson to ride in the Patriot. “He is a real experienced movie horse,”
Each of the other family members had their own horse to ride. Maria rode a beautiful Paint Horse named Belle. Ryan rode Dollar, a Quarter Horse. Tim’s mount was Biscuit, also a Quarter Horse. None of these riders except for McGraw, had any experience on a horse so Hendrickson was kept busy working with both the riders and the horses. Since Alison had to ride most of the movie bareback this was the biggest challenge.
“I had trouble learning,” commented Alison. “Horseback riding was harder than I thought.”
It took her most of the movie to really be comfortable and it was near the end of the film that she finally had the sensation a dancer gets when they feel the step. Rusty compared it to a Tango. “I might not get it in a month but at some point it would start to click.”
Eventually it did click for Alison. “There is a shot at the very end and it was my most comfortable moment. I finally felt good on the horse.”