Diane's Diary #11: A Ranch with a Big Heart
Updated: Sep 20
Note: This is Excerpt #11 in Diane’s Diary. If you would like to read previous excerpts, you can find Diane’s Diary 1-10 here.
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The first mini-documentary that we filmed at Cal State University Fullerton (CSUF) was mostly edited and slated to be the first one we released. But, as I mentioned in Diane’s Diary #8, I didn’t have a permit to film there. I spent hours contacting the school to get retroactive permission but never heard from the right people, so I decided to put that one on hold as I moved forward. Thus, that mini-doc got bumped to later in the queue.
Either way, my plan was to film at least three or four mini-docs and have them in various stages of readiness before the first was released. I didn’t want to release my first film and not have any more films ready, or close to ready. As it turned out, this was a wise move, particularly since COVID-19 hit and filming stopped. I had four (and a half) filmed by the time filming got shut down.
My thought was to release one every couple of months in 2019 and 2020 as a way to offer information to the public about the various ways animals support people (and vice versa). The ultimate goal is for Animal Magic Films to create a feature film and/or docuseries over the next couple of years.
Now that the CSUF mini-doc was filmed it was time to uncover more stories. I had begun making some connections, and other opportunities presented themselves. The first was through a tip from my friend Lila. I am grateful when people let me know about cool organizations that they are familiar with.
Lila told me about Big Heart Ranch in Malibu. I reached out to them and Nora, the Executive Director at the time, was lovely and open and excited to share their programs.
Big Heart Ranch does a few things. First, they rescue all sorts of animals and, for example, helped out big time during the Malibu fires. They took animals down to the beach (where the fires couldn’t reach) and tied them to lifeguard stands while they rescued more. They also housed animals for neighbors whose homes and ranches were in jeopardy or did burn.
What these lovely animals do in turn is help people in many different therapeutic situations.
Here’s Big Heart Ranch’s mission:
Our mission is to protect and rehabilitate animals and humans. We're committed to providing relief for families and individuals affected by crisis or who are struggling against deprivations caused by financial shortages. We've donated over $800,000 in therapeutic services to disadvantaged families, domestic violence victims, combat military veterans, and those recovering from addiction or trauma.
As you can see by their mission, there are many ways that people can be helped by their interactions with these animals, and Big Heart Ranch is here to serve.
Nora invited us up to visit the ranch and I asked if we could film while there. So, Chateau and I spent a couple of hours watching the horses, pigs, goats, alpacas, and chickens interact in their environment. Being at the ranch with the animals in Malibu was magical and I can’t wait to go back. The experience was impromptu, and we didn’t plan to film a particular program, but we hope to return in order to cover more of the human-animal bond work that they do.
If you were wondering how I had filmed four and a half shoots, this was the half. We have some great footage of the ranch and the animals and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to show the magic of what they do.
(Thank you to Kyrsha Wildasin, the current Executive Director at Big Heart Ranch, for sharing these photos with me for this blog post.)
P.S. While filming in the goat pen, one of the goats started nibbling on Chateau’s camera bag. I remembered that I had forgotten to get production insurance! But insurance was the first thing I investigated the next day. (Still a newbie!)
Come back again next time to learn about the next shoots and the nuttiness of production insurance.
If you haven’t yet had a chance to watch our first 3-minute mini-documentary, here’s a link: