Dairy Farmer Steve Hook with his herd of cows
Dairy Farmer Steve Hook with his herd of cows

Guiding Lights mentee at Sundance Film Festival

07 December 2012

Documentary feature by Andy Heathcote officially selected for Sundance 2013

Andy Heathcote
Andy Heathcote

Andy Heathcote, Guiding Lights Mentee from 06/07, has spent the last year filming life at a dairy farm for his latest documentary feature The Moo Man. Dairyman Steve Hook agreed to let Andy follow him around his farm for a year, never did he imagine it would lead to a walk up the red carpet at Robert Redfordʼs Sundance Film Festival!

The Moo Man, an utterly beguiling 90-minutes in the company of one man and his cows, is not only the first British movie about farming to make it on to the A-list in Utah, it is also the first in cinema history to cast half a tonne of Holstein Friesian cow in a leading role. The star of the film is Ida, a 12-year-old, black and white dairy cow who milks her screen debut for all its worth.

Andy writes about his recent good news:
“We are just coming down to earth after the shock of a competition invite for Sundance for our documentary feature The Moo Man. Our film is about Steve, a dairy farmer and his wonderful relationship to his animals. Sundance selection was something we never even thought to be a realistic possibility. We weren’t even going to apply. For a hand-to mouth DIY film outfit like us, the £75 fee might at least fill the petrol tank. However, can an indie outfit like us NOT apply to Sundance? No, of course not. The car was light on juice for a week, but I’m so very glad it was.

The news came that we’d got in, late at night and with a 9 day embargo. Cue one night sleepless with excitement and not being able to tell anyone. It didn’t really sink in either – the calm before the storm. Meanwhile people gave us fantastic advice (thanks Emily Kyriakides and Nicky Bentham). But then what amazed us, was how late last Wednesday, when the news did officially break, within minutes sales agents emails were winging in from just about everywhere. Everywhere that is except from the UK.

Next day the first thing I wanted to do was tell Steve the farmer, so I went down to the farm and shared the awe that this little film is going to Park City; a very different world to the muck and grit of the four years I spent making the film on the farm. Meanwhile I knew I had a million things to organise but so enjoyed sharing the glow of the moment over a mug of tea in the farm kitchen. I didn’t want it to end. But then his phone rang; the cows had escaped and were rollicking around on a country lane. Steve rushes off to shepherd them home, I want to help but we both know I have so much Sundance prep to do. We look at each other and I can’t help but smile, because deep down inside there is a part of me that would still rather be with the cows."

The Moo Man will be shown as part of The Sundance Film Festival (January 17-27). It opens in UK cinemas later next year.



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