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Unbranded’s Phill Baribeau

Published: 10/23/2013
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Editor’s Note: We spoke with Phillip Baribeau, owner of Implement Productions and a crucial member of the Unbranded team.
Baribeau traveled at least 1,500 miles with the Texas foursome.
Last year, Ben Masters and Baribeau met in Montana and started talking about the project. Before long, they were developing footage for a Kickstarter campaign.
That campaign raised a stunning $171,000 and attracted the attention of Cindy Meehl, of Cedar Creek Productions and winner of the Sundance Film Festival with the documentary, “Buck.”
As the new executive producer, Meehl and additional investors injected capital and allowed Baribeau to devote more time, better equipment, and a bigger vision to the mammoth “beast” of making Unbranded.

NickerNews: When did you and Unbranded’s Ben Masters connect?

Baribeau: He used to work at Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Paradise Valley and I’d done a project there. He got my name through that.
We started small-talking about the trip.
I told him I’d never really been on horses before and he said that didn’t matter. He said, “Don’t worry about that. I’ll teach you to ride a horse. What matters is: Can you handle being two weeks in the backcountry and camping and all these things?”
That was not a problem. That’s what I do for fun and for work anyways.

I was interested, but it seemed like a huge beast of a project…My company (Implement Productions) didn’t have any employees or anything.
We kept talking and came up with the kickstarter thing. Just to get this thing off the ground and to get the initial funding. (Fellow cinematographer) Denver Miller went to Kansas to film the adoption process with Ben.

NickerNews: The kickstarter campaign was wonderfully successful. What was it going to pay for?

Baribeau: It was enough to do this documentary as bare bones as it gets. Between me and one other shooter, we could do six trips of 10 days each with all my own gear and I was going to edit the whole thing.

NickerNews: But then Cindy Meehl invested and changed the whole game plan?

Baribeau: She felt like it was a story that deserved a real budget and that she could bring in real dollars. And so that kind of changed everything.
I got Korey (Kaczmarek, cinematographer) on board as the shooter to start and then I got a hold of my [Montana State] professor, Dennis Aig. I’d worked on other projects with him, too.
Since we were out in the field, dealing with the logistics of the ride, we needed someone to coordinate everything and make sure everything was together as far as the back end. So Dennis kept everything together as our producer.
And then we’ve had two assistant editors working almost full time during the ride. Getting all the footage, transferring it, logging it, basically getting it ready for right now (as we start editing).

NickerNews: What were your feelings when Cindy took reins as an executive producer?

Baribeau: I felt then between Ben, Denver, and I – it was our baby. We didn’t think anyone was going to put money into [it]... I had no idea people were so into the mustangs and this whole idea. So when it was successful, it was pretty crazy.

Once we met Cindy and saw that she just wanted to do what was best for the film and also seeing her experience with ‘Buck.’ She’s had a successful documentary. She had a documentary that won the Sundance Film Festival. You know, for all of us it was [connecting with] someone who’s taken that route, knows all the steps to take. And she just really understood story.

So it wasn’t just her coming in and bringing in investors, it was her whole experience. And we kind of all figured, if we’re going to do it, this is a huge opportunity.
Even though she couldn’t be on the ride, she was just basically doing everything for us while we were out there.

Sounds like there were lots of pros. Any cons?

Baribeau: There weren’t any cons.

NickerNews: How much time did you spend in the saddle?

Baribeau: 1,500 miles. I don’t know how many days. About half the ride.
I made sure I was on the best sections like Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, Glacier Park.

NickerNews: It must be exhausting when you’re riding and working to capture footage.

Baribeau: Yeah. Between Korey and I, we figured out that the maximum limit where you just start burning out was about 20 days.
It’s one thing to just be out there. But to be dealing with gear and running around shooting these guys all day. Your brain is moving with story and you’re just thinking all the time.
You know, 20 days is about enough.

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10/23/2013 SAM
Phil, you LOOK like a cowboy! Commentary was good. Wished I were a bit younger to accompany on such a trip. Married, with growed children. Sam

"Speak kindly to your little horse, and soothe him when he wheezes, or he may turn his back on you, and kick you where he pleases" - Anonymous