The Wild Ones
Director: Lucy Kaye
Writer: Lucy Kaye
Producer: Channel 4
Label: First Cut
- Yaniv Fridel - mix/production/composition
I first met the British documentary director Lucy Kaye when I saw Together Alone, her graduation film from the National Film and Television School. It was such a touching, sensitive portrayal of the difficulties of old age in London that I went straight up to her after the screening and had to thank her.
So we were of course delighted when she asked me and my studio partner Yaniv to compose the music for her first Channel 4 film, “The Wild Ones” (which Channel 4 cheesily renamed ‘Teen Horse Whisperers’, but that’s another story.)
A pupil and a horse working together
What Lucy made was a beautiful, sensitive, very moving film. Sadly it can’t be embedded on other websites, but I heartily recommend you go and watch it on Lucy’s Vimeo page.
Impact Pupil Referral Unit, in Bootle, Liverpool, provides a last chance for teenagers expelled from school to gain qualifications. This term, seven pupils get to leave the Unit to try a new way of learning in an unlikely sanctuary for rescued horses, in the heart of this run-down neighborhood. Run by local resident Bernadette Langfield, several wild ponies that she saved from being culled need taming. But these horses, like the pupils have their own troubled backgrounds and in order for a relationship between them to develop, both horses and teenagers have to first deal with their own behavioral difficulties.
Run by Bernadette Langfield the Shy Lowen Horse and Pony Sanctuary in Liverpool specializes in taming horses with behavioural problems, horses that have been deemed “difficult”. Langfield believes these stunning creatures have a natural ability to pick up on our emotional states, and she is utilizing this gift to the benefit of both horses and people. The latest in the First Cut series of debut documentaries is this charming and touching film by Lucy Kaye, following a group of problem teenagers a sthey spend two months with Langfield. The results – for both human and horse – are quite astonishing.
Another lovely film from a series that should be persuading the soap opera audience to make the switch to documentary. This features a group of young Liverpudlians whose behaviour has seen them exiled from mainstream schooling. They now attend “classes” at a horse sanctuary, and in learning to work with big, injured, frightened animals, they are taught to control their own moods.
Lucy Kaye's rather lovely First Cut documentary looks at the work of Impact, an alternative school in Liverpool, and the Shy Lowen Horse and Pony Sanctuary. It shows how pupils with behavioural issues are encouraged to work with unwanted, wild horses, who need taming before they can be reintegrated with their herds. The parallels between the animal and human adolescents are obvious but this makes the task ahead of the teenagers no less of a challenge, as they must first confront their own difficulties before addressing those of the horses.
A mellow, wise little film tells a tale of disruptive teenagers on Merseyside and their unlikely therapy programme. A brilliant woman called Bernie runs a charity in Bootle that brings the teenagers together with rescued horses. The students must win the trust of the horses (which have behavioural problems of their own) and learn how to assert themselves, without being threatening or giving up. A lot of it comes down to body language and confidence - so there's one big life lesson right there. It's therapeutic just watching the sessions as horses and teens tame each other, though it's no surprise when we learn that this enlightened programme faces closure as a result of cuts.
Impact is a school for students in Liverpool who have been removed from mainstream education because they have difficulty controlling their behaviour. Where better than Bernie's pony sanctuary? The animals have something in common with the children: both have been treated badly. Anneliese was not beaten with planks nor crushed between two gates and tagged, but she did look after her alcoholic mother and siblings before being taken into care. Bernie grew up on a council estate. "What's the word when everything is run down and there's no money?" She couldn't remember. No one could. Anyway, growing up there "was quite tough". She explained to the huddle of teenagers that the horses didn't behave badly after their first day at the sanctuary. Why was that, she asked. No answer. "It's because they're allowed to be horses." You waited for the inevitable retort. It didn't come. Perhaps they were wondering if Bernie was drawing an analogy. She believes that, by becoming aware of the horses' actions, the youngsters will become more aware of their own. Horses, she tells them, are able to pick up what people are feeling and this helps the likes of John to get in touch with his emotions. At first he backed away from his pony but, encouraged by Bernie, he was soon brushing it down, feeding it apples and even leading it round the paddock. When she told him how proud she was of his achievement, he ran off. He wasn't used to praise. Government cuts mean Impact may have to close. And then what will happen to kids like John? There should be kindness as well as Kindles.