ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Equestrian Video Highlights Abilities That Count

By Andy Marken

In explaining why he shot and produced his recent “McIntyre Centre” video, Colin Brown, a veteran technologist and filmmaker who lives just outside Brisbane, AU, said, “Heroism comes in many forms.”

Brown, after discovering the McIntyre Centre, a community organisation specialising in equine programs for people with a disability was compelled to help them. 

Started more than 50 years ago by June and Peter McIntyre, the Centre was the first horse riding program for people with disabilities in Australia.  Over the years, the program has expanded and evolved to serve physically and mentally challenged youth and adults throughout Queensland and has been a model for similar facilities throughout Australia.

  

June and Peter started the equestrian therapy program with four ponies and their three children after hearing about similar programs in Europe carried out by the loosely-knit PRDA (Pony-Riding for the Disabled Association). 

Over the years, there have been several research studies done on the Centre to determine the connection properly trained ponies and horses develop with people with a disability who not only show significant physical and psychological improvement but gain considerable self-confidence.

Today, the Centre has 37 ponies and dozens of volunteers who help the almost 400 individual riders and care for the ponies.

In addition to working for Australia-headquartered Blackmagic Design, Brown has gained a reputation for producing exceptional video content. His goal for this video was to help the Centre not only tell its story but also stimulate funding for the Centre and for others across the country and around the globe to initiate similar programs. 

Brown noted that the Centre focuses not on the disability of the individual but how, with the proper education and assistance, they can take part in a therapeutic, fun and safe sport, regardless of their age or ability.

 

For the project, Brown used two cameras – a Blacmagic Cinema Camera and a Canon 60D. 

“The Cinema was my primary for the shoot,” he noted.  “The Canon was used for secondary shooting and it also doubled for stills which the Centre’s staff could use in educational and informational presentations they give across the country and in their promotional activities.”

The Centre’s staff is regularly invited by organizations around the country to explain the Centre’s non-profit program and the therapeutic transformation of people with disabilities who participate in the program.

While he was initially concerned about ensuring that the shoot didn’t spook the horses and harm someone – participant or volunteer, Colin noted that the horses are very well trained and chosen because they have such a laid-back, even temperament.  

“The weather was a bit dodgy for us because it was very hot and humid,” he recalled.  “I was concerned about spooking the horses as I ran around getting the footage I wanted, but the horses and riders were enjoying each other so much it was like I wasn’t even there. It was one of those dream shoots.”

 

  

Colin captured all of the content flawlessly using OWC Pro 6G SSD media in his Cinema camera 

“I might be ‘a little’ prejudiced,” he acknowledged, “but the Blackmagic camera really is a very versatile camera.  I like the fact that the company chose to use an open design for storage so filmmakers can use the media they want rather than being limited to a single manufacturer-dictated solution.  For this project, I wanted to be certain I wouldn’t have to reshoot segments … and I didn’t.”

After returning to his home production facility, Colin explained that to make the film project the proper mood and image, he focused on choosing the right music.

 “I did a lot of searching and soul searching to find just the right music that would fit the mood and what the Centre needed,” he recalled. “I contacted Troy Cassar-Daley, a very talented musician and he was more than happy to give us use of the song, royalty free.  That made a good film great!”

The final film, which is now featured on the McIntyre Centre web site, focuses on the equestrian activities and strong community support the program provides to those with disabilities.

“The real highlight of the project for me was seeing the joy on the faces of the people we filmed,” he said.  “My efforts were nothing compared to the work the team of trained volunteers do every day for these people.

“The film is a fitting tribute to what June and Peter started and the work the organization does to show people that a disability really can be transformed into ability,” he concluded.