I remember waking up one day and saying, "I've got to make a movie." "Ranchero" wasn't my first. I had written and produced a couple of shorts, and even an ill-fated feature. But this was different. Having just completed the "No-Budget Film School" (thank you Mark Stolaroff) I had a strategy for making a Spirit Award worthy film by using the resources that were available to me. That meant a script with a cool setting - like my cousin's ranch.
My original thought was to write a screenplay that took place entirely on the Silva Ranch in Herald, California. If you're curious, it's a small farm town between Stockton and Sacramento. But as I considered different storylines, I kept coming back to the time-tested, fish-out-of-water tale of a man leaving the country for the bright lights of the city.
This story appealed to me for several reasons. For one, as a child, I was the "fish-out-of-water" when I visited the ranch. To quickly bore those who have read my writer's notes, I worshiped my big cousin Gary. He was a tough cowboy kid who got to do all kinds of cool stuff: ride horses, shoot guns, etc. I was the city kid that felt like a wuss around him. So I kind of liked the idea of turning the tables. But I also wanted a lead character that takes a physical journey to inspire his psychological one. You can't run from who you are; but, a change of scenery can serve as a catalyst for those more difficult internal changes. I settled on a rancher who had lost pride in who he was and where he came from. He would set out on a journey of self-discovery and change not only himself, but those around him. Crap! We'll have to shoot in the city.