Dairy goat documentary showcases National Goat Producers
Photos Courtesy of Helena Bowen
What happens when hundreds of goat-owners drive cross-country with their goats and meet in one place for one week? That is the question that Helena Bowen, a filmmaker from Wellington, Colo., will be answering through her documentary on dairy goats.
Bowen, who currently lives in Los Angeles, Calif., will be traveling across several states and spending nearly a month in Colorado in July to shoot a documentary detailing the dairy goat industry, from showing to milking to cheese making.
Bowen has always had an interest in dairy goats, as she grew up with them. “I have never known life without goats. My mom got them when she got out of vet school. I got my first goat when I was 3 and her name was Cookie. I then started showing in elementary school, and showed all around Colorado. Goats were a huge part of my life growing up. I always thought this was normal as a kid,” she said.
However, Bowen realized it wasn’t what everyone else experienced when she went to school in Boston. “I realized my upbringing was really unique compared to some kids in America. I went to college for film school and thought this would be a cool topic. Now that I’m out of college and working full time in L.A., I now have the experience and time to do it,” she said.
Bowen will be coming back to Colorado not only because this is where her roots are, but also because the American Dairy Goat Association National Show will be in Colorado this year. It will be held in Loveland, Colo., at The Ranch from July 7-14.
The documentary will not be on just showing goats. In fact, the movie will cover all aspects of the dairy goat industry.
“The main goal is to promote goats. Obviously goats are super misrepresented in pop culture. They are thought of as stupid and lazy. Tons of people have them in America. They are loving and gentle, and an important part of the industry. I want to especially emphasize that goat’s milk is being used for people who are lactose intolerant. I want to promote the goat for what it is,” Bowen said.
One of the aspects she will be covering will be the show side of the industry. “I want to educate people about the goat showing world and the huge community of people who go around the country showing their goats. I will talk about the American Dairy Goat Association and how it connects with the goats,” she said.
While at the national show, Bowen and her team will be shooting videos of producers prepping and showing their goats, and will talk about what it takes to show a goat, as well as how to show one.
“Most of the crew members from the film have no goat experience, so they will be learning how to show a goat on camera for the film. We want the whole thing to be educational. I have all this goat history and goat knowledge. One way for the non-goat community to connect will be through the eyes of the other film members who don’t know about goats,” Bowen stated.
She will also be showing what is involved in judging the goats. “We will be having more informative segments on things such as judging. We will show the scorecard, and explain what the judges are looking for. We will be speaking to the judges at the national show,” she said.
In addition to the show aspect, she will also be showing the milking aspect of the industry. “We will cover the milk, cheese, and yogurt aspect. We want people to understand the importance of the dairy goat in agricultural industry. They are sustainable. We want to show people where their food comes from,” she stated.
Originally the bulk of the shooting was planned to be at the national show, but as the idea evolved, so did the locations. She has already shot part of the film at two of the largest goat dairies in the country, which are located in California.
One of those dairies is Laurelwood Acres in Ripon, Calif. “They are one of the most famous, largest and successful game-changing operations in dairy goat history. A lot of the goats from there are the textbook examples of the way that the diary goat should be,” Bowen said.
Another operation she has already visited is Redwood Hill Farm in Sebastopol, Calif. “They are one of the largest and most successful commercial diary goat operations. They distribute their products across the nation. They are also the first certified humane dairy goat place in the country,” she said.
However, shooting in Colorado is important to Bowen, because it is her home state. “I want to promote the state of Colorado as well. Colorado is very unrepresented in the film industry,” Bowen said.
She continued, “We want to show Colorado pride at the very basis. We are interviewing local people who are born and raised in Colorado, and thrive in the food industry. We will promote Colorado for what it is, and the supportive environment it offers. Colorado has a thriving 4-H environment and local shows, so we want to highlight that as well.”
Bowen will be visiting operations that are large and small, and talking about how the operations work. Although she does not have a set number of farms to visit, she knows she will find more than enough as the movie progresses.
“We will show all the different ranges of people, from those that show in 4-H and have one goat, to people who have hundreds of goats. One thing leads to the next and you meet more people. I’ve had several people offer to show me their places and be in the movie,” she said.
She will also be showing the different products that are made from goats milk, such as soap, lotion and lip balm.
It’s important to Bowen that the documentary be a movie that people want to see. “It’s a movie, so we want it to be entertaining. We don’t want it to be dull. We want it to be a fun story. Most of these people who have goats are very interesting. The whole goat world is unique. It has the dog show aspect, as well as the dairy part,” she said.
Originally the budget for the movie was fairly low, but as time progressed it has raised significantly. Much of the funding for the movie has been raised through donations from goat producers and film makers who believe in the film.
“We have raised a little over $13,000 so far, and we will be trying to raise the rest of it in the next six months. The donations help with pre-production, production and post-production costs. We have had more than 200 donors so far,” she said.
She estimates the movie will last about an hour and a half, and hopes to debut the film at the 2013 ADGA National Show. Bowen knows that by promoting goats, she is also promoting agriculture.
“Agriculture and farmers are a dying breed. Now farmers are growing older and there isn’t this new generation of people who are getting back into the business. It’s harder for the smaller farmer to get by. People will get a broad view of the dairy goat industry and the agriculture industry, which is very important,” she said.