KEARNEY — Filmmaker Georg Joutras skipped over the romantic view of life on a Sandhills ranch.
“I had been going out to the ranch for 11 years,” he said. “I had already worked through the romanticism-angle of it and I actually saw the hard work that is involved. And each time I went out I helped around the ranch as much as I could. They let me do things that wouldn’t cause too much damage.”
In 2014 the Lincoln-based artist took his Christmas gift, a Go-Pro camera, with him.
“I ended up going back out to the ranch and shooting some footage over the next three or four months,” Joutras said. “I had this little Go-Pro camera and then a digital DSR. After about three or four months I began to show a video I made and it got pretty good response. People told me to keep going.”
So Joutras invested in a 4k video camera, a consumer/professional-grade camera.
“It had some limitations but it did some things very well,” he said. “After a year of shooting, I invested in a professional-grade 4k video camera that did everything I needed it to do. The quality was so much better than what I had shot, I basically went back and shot everything over for the next year.”
Nebraska audiences can view Joutras’ final product, “Oceans of Grass,” at three showings at The World Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5.
Joutras will attend the Saturday showing for a Q&A session after the film.
“Oceans of Grass,” a 100 percent Nebraska-made film, follows a ranching family who makes a living on the 130-year old operation owned by the McGinn family, now in its fifth generation. Joutras calls the film, “an organic journey about life rolled up into the ranch experience.” The conflicts and issues highlighted in the film are really but not overblown, the filmmaker said.
“This is the most honest film about ranching, or people in the Sandhills, that you’re ever going to see,” he said. “There’s nothing staged, there is nothing that didn’t actually happen — and we’re just showing the people as they truly are. By the end of the film you will know exactly who each person in the film really is.”
Joutras wanted to show “real life” in real situations.
“It’s not that I didn’t show the bad things that happened,” he said. “This particular ranch is a unique place in that the makeup of the people there, specially like Larry McGinn, who is the son of the ranch owner. I knew him because he would come to Lincoln to show his artwork. I got to know him from those meet-ups.”
McGinn invited Joutras to the ranch.
“He’s unique in that he’s an artist and he’s sold work all around the world,” Joutras said. “He’s also a world traveler. He knows a lot of people and lot of them will come back to the ranch to visit. So there’s a unique environment out there. It’s very welcoming.”
Joutras approached the project as a visual artist, a storyteller and filmmaker.
“I have a certain look to my photographs,” he said. “I approached this with the eye of a photographer, meaning that every shot was important to me, artistically. I’m trying to show, in my own way, what it’s really like out there. And I wanted to document what it’s like out there. I wanted to show a bigger picture of what happens on this ranch.”