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2014 Unbranded Interviews, Part III

Published: 10/24/2014
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Editor's Note: A year after the Unbranded team reached the Canadian border and on the eve of submission deadlines to major film festivals, NickerNews interviewed founder Ben Masters, producer Dennis Aig, director Phill Baribeau, editor Scott Chestnut and others.

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Read 2013 trip interviews here.

In this installment, we continue our visit with Masters and Aig.

Masters founded the massive project and led the team of four young men from the Mexican border to Canada, with more than a dozen mustangs. The trek of 3,000 wilderness miles over five and a half months was captured in about 500 hours of footage.

Aig, director of Montana State University’s School of Film and Photography, served as the film’s producer.
Read more about Unbranded here.
Riding with Unbranded's Dino
NN: Ben, what’s your schedule look like nowadays?

BM: Activity around Unbranded will eat up the first part of next year, for sure. The nature of it, I can’t go getting a bunch of jobs. Something will come up that I have to be at.

NN: But you’ve had time to lead pack trips and there are elk hunting trips.

BM: I did a couple pack trips with my horses this summer. I’m going to guide a couple elk hunts with them this fall. But no really big ideas beyond that. I have some in things in progress.

[Photo, right, a film snippet with a scruffy Masters.]

NN: What do you want to do?

BM: Well, making films is fun and it’s not as hard as I thought it would be.

DA: That’s because you’re not the filmmaker (laughing).

BM: The cameraman aspect is appealing to me. I like the nature aspect of documentaries. The producer aspect is fun.
I think the skill I have is getting the ball rolling and kicking it down the road. But I don’t have anything concrete at this time. I kinda don’t want to have anything concrete.

NN: Dennis, Ben doesn’t seem like your typical 26-year old.

DA: As director of a film school, I’m not sure what a typical 26-year old is like. Ben clearly has a very entrepreneurial spirit, works hard, and has a lot of experience already.
We keep similar hours. I know if I email him at 3 o’clock in the morning, he’ll respond to me.

BM: Dennis is the only person who, when I propose to leave town at 4:30 am to go someplace or to get something done, he says, ‘Sure. Sounds great. You want to bring the coffee or should I make it?”

DA: That’s part of it.

NN: I don’t know many recent college grads with as big a vision as Ben.

DA: Right. I think a lot of young people have visions, but there’s also reality.

BM: Right. And also, it might have been my vision. But people got on board early. Like Phill. Cindy. Dennis.  They were the ones who said, “No, this is a lot bigger than the documentary you had in mind. This can get a lot better if we’re going to do it. Let’s really shoot for it. Unbranded is so much bigger and better than I possibly could have fathomed in my mind two years ago.

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Part IV: Ben Masters, "The film is better than I ever could have imagined..."

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