ON LOCATION >
Patagonia, Chile and Corrientes Province, Argentina.
COWBOY CUISINE >
Maté is the original cowboy coffee.
After two days of recovery in Buenos Aires, we traveled to Argentina's northeast corner, to the Ibera marshes, to find a peculiar type of Argentine cowboy, the gaucho Correntino. Jasper had found us a 50,000-acre estancia at the edge of the swamps on which we could not only shoot, but also stay. The estancia and its lands had been converted from a 17th century Jesuit mission, and had been under the same family's ownership for 200 years. Our crew would be staying in the narrow barracks buildings once occupied by Spanish friars.
Our story here was simpler — in theory — than in Patagonia: we would follow a team of gauchos from their morning maté break, to tacking up new horses and finding another herd in the field, which they would then drive through swamps and across a river to new pastures — something they do everyday. As our Line Producer Greg Eliason likes to say facetiously, "It'll be e-e-e-asy!"
It's been said that a filmmaker should avoid working with animals and filming on the water. Doing both was doubly foolish, but we forged ahead. Had our crew not been there, the gauchos would have simply driven the horses into the river and they would have swum across. But our two camera boats, created by bolting platforms to local speedboats, threw the horses for a loop, and they would try like mad to avoid us. They either wouldn't enter the river, would swim along the shore in chest deep water only to turn back a hundred yards downstream, or would scatter and mill and eventually go right back to the bank they had left. The few times they finally did swim, our boats conspired against us, and the horses cruised right past.