"I knew within five minutes of talking to Sammy that I had to make this film."
Once in a great while people come into our lives for some unknown reason and leave a lasting impression. Sammy Thurman Brackenbury is one such person for me. It may be her charismatic personality at an age when most women would rather discuss their failing health than the specific details of being bucked off a bronc sixty-years earlier or the heartbreak of six failed marriages.
I spent a good portion of my life on the rodeo trail competing in barrel racing across the west before becoming an award-winning writer. Sammy Thurman Brackenbury was not of my era, but I had heard the stories. Stories that made me laugh and admire a woman I did not know. Nearly twenty years later, I drove from my home in the Sierra Nevada to Sammy's place in the southern California desert. I needed to be sure that making this film was a mountain Sammy and I wanted to climb together. I turned the camera on and within five minutes of talking to Sammy I knew that I had to make this film.
Sam Fancher may have wanted a boy when Sammy was born, but he raised his daughter as he would his son. At a time when girls wore dresses and played with dolls, Sammy was helping her family gather wild mustangs in the Arizona desert.
Her extraordinary abilities with a horse and a rope became apparent when she began roping calves and eventually competing against men in the team roping event. To this date Sammy is the only woman to ever win money at a major rodeo in a roping event. She was barred from competition since the Rodeo Cowboys Association did not allow women to compete. One of the film's main goals will be to right a wrong by nominating Sammy for an induction into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
"Sammy was the best hazer going." Claimed Jack Roddy and Harley May, both world champion steer wrestlers. In the rodeo arena, a good hazer keeps a running steer in position for a steer wrestler to slide off his horse and "bulldog" the animal to the ground. A hazer can make all the difference between winning and losing and Sammy was one of the best until a 1968 rule forbid women from hazing.
While on her way to winning the 1965 barrel racing world title, Sammy walked away from a promising movie career. Fame and fortune could not deter her from rodeo competition and qualifying for twelve consecutive National Finals Rodeos.
Cowboy Girl is a documentary film that examines the life of a great cowboy who happens to be a girl and her lasting impact on future generations.
Outspoken and honest, Sammy will share the importance of her extraordinary accomplishments in the rodeo arena juxtaposed with the struggles of her personal life. Sharing the true story of a strong woman who lives life on her own terms and refuses to allow gender to define her is of the utmost importance these days.
Producing a quality film that is worthy of exposure is expensive and can not happen without your help. According to PBS, most documentary films have production budgets that range from $300,000 to over one million dollars. Cowboy Girl has partnered with talented individuals and From the Heart Productions allowing us to produce this film at a much lower rate. We must raise enough to cover costs of travel, filming, editing, licensing, and final cut. A great story is waiting to be told. Please consider a tax-deductible donation.