A sigh of relief from the opening few shots… Immediately I knew this would be a film containing values—something I unfortunately don’t get to experience too often these days. Ocean of Grass is a compelling documentary about a Nebraska ranch that is more than a century old, as well as the lives of the individuals who support it. This documentary moved me. I live on the coast, but it has made me think a lot about the heartland of America and the men and women who work hard in order for it to thrive. Spread the word about this one. It’s important.

– Taylor                                 

Real Quotes from Real Viewers

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that bridges the gap between a documentary and a feature. With a pacing that reflects the Sandhills, this is a masterpiece.

– Patricia R.                                 

3 Ways to Watch OCEAN OF GRASS

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Film Duration: 86 minutes
Subtitles: English
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“Ordered this & when it arrived we were just going to preview a few minutes. We ended up watching it in entirety! Loved it!”

– Patricia K.

“This was a wonderful documentary. Watched it 3 times! ‘Right on’ as to what it’s really like to make a ranch work.”

– Gwen J.

“Really awesome film…even if you’re not connected to ranching in any way. It’ll make you wish you were though!”

– Keith R.

“You haven’t seen this movie yet?”

What are you waiting on?  Your family will love it!!  Watch it together!

-Bev C.                                 

A Tribute to Mike McGinn (1936-2021)

As Cass and I were out yesterday, I was sharing stories of different times. I told Cass we work in a unique business, a business centered around tribal learning. It’s the lessons and stories elders gave us that we treasure. Whenever I’m on the ranch and find myself struggling, I ask myself what would Uncle Mike do! His passion for ranching and its unique culture has always been very special to me, and I thank him for giving me those gifts that I can share with my children. In ranch life, legends never die. This is evident as our ancestors whisper to us as we walk through the pastures.

-Matt McGinn                                 

      Watch the Film Trailer     

Upcoming Screenings

After 18 months in theaters, OCEAN OF GRASS is now available on DVDHigh Definition Blu-ray, and ON DEMAND Digital. 

” (Joutras’) depiction of a people and place without adornment or agenda is a cinematic rarity.”

– Leo Adam Biga, author of “Alexander Payne, His Journey in Film”

” The audience, which was spellbound, sat for a long time after the film was over, then ROARED and CLAPPED! It was amazing. ”

– North Platte, Nebraska



of the ranchers as the director weaves a story with deft subtlety, never imposing a false narrative of what it means to live this life.

-Samuel B.                                 

The Film: “This all started because I went to a bar”

In 2003 filmmaker Georg Joutras was visiting the McGinn Ranch, a then 120 year old family ranching operation in the Nebraska Sandhills. While consuming a beverage or two at the Double T Bar in Halsey, Nebraska, Georg casually asked Laron McGinn if he might create a large-format photographic book about the ranch. While not specifically saying “Yes”, Laron didn’t say “No”.  As Georg later stated, “That was good enough for me!”.

Flash forward ten years – the book project long ago completed and searching for another meaningful project to tackle, this time in the film and video realm.  The lure of the McGinn Ranch, and its magical hold on all who experience it, is a story Georg long wanted to tell in this immersive form.  Twenty-two months of filming later, “Ocean of Grass, Life on a Nebraska Sandhills Ranch” was born.

Travel to this hidden, idyllic location as the movie documents the fascinating people, the lands, its creatures, and the daily struggles to maintain a viable family cattle ranching operation.  Guided by the hands of 3rd and 4th generation ranchers, OCEAN OF GRASS is a story of perseverance, of rebirth and death, hard work, sacrifice, ongoing stewardship of the land and care for its creatures presented in an lyrical, emotional, and beautifully filmed journey though the past and present.  The film slowly peels back the layers of the interesting, heartfelt, and reserved folks who inhabit and coexist with the lands of the McGinn Ranch.

The ranch itself is a very much a living organism, alive in every way.  Walk the prairie that encapsulates the ranch property, and one senses the life and energy that emanates from within.  It faces constant assault and interaction with the elements of weather, be it storms, drought, blizzards, or one of the many serene and tranquil days that covers the land.  The feeling of contentment and being one with our planet on these special days is indeed fuel for the soul.

This documentary film presents the unique visual viewpoint of Producer/Director/Cinematographer Georg Joutras within an immersive, experiential form.

Featured in the film – Artist/Rancher Laron McGinn

 A 4th generation rancher, Laron McGinn was raised in the Sandhills of Nebraska. He has a degree in Graphic Design and Illustration from the University of Arizona, and has worked extensively throughout the Southwest and the Los Angeles metro.

Drawn back to the Sandhills beauty and open spaces, Laron now paints and works on the his family’s 1870’s homestead ranch near Dunning, Nebraska. Laron’s experiences with the ranching lifestyle combined with extensive travels in Europe are reflected in his unique artistic style. His mediums of choice are pencil drawings and alkyd or acrylic paintings.

Press Coverage

   Click on images to see story

4 Star Film Review by High On Films.

4 Star Film Review by Script to Indie.

8.5/10 Film Review by Film Threat.

Appearance promoting Ocean of Grass on NTV’s “Good Life” program.

Back by Popular Demand at the IMAX

Georg Joutras discusses the path to making his new documentary Ocean of Grass, “the most successful independent film made in Nebraska”

Friday LIVE video stream about “Oceans of Grass”starts at 19:00 mark.

Rancher/Artist Laron McGinn tells us about his role in Ocean of Grass

Life on a Nebraska Sandhills Ranch

Find out more about life on a Sandhills ranch

1011tv -The film called “Ocean of Grass” tells the story of life on a Sandhills ranch

Georg Joutras’ Ocean of Grass

“It’s kind of become the little film that can”

OMAHA MAGAZINE Presents: Georg Joutras

A Visual Journey of Ranch Life

Multiple Sold Out Shows

NET-Radio Interview with filmmaker Georg Joutras starts at 08:00 mark.

A film about the feel of the place & the people & the landscape

Life in the Sandhills Portrayed in Film

A film detailing life on a Sandhills ranch is playing at theaters across Nebraska.

A community event and fundraiser.

It’s not every day you have the opportunity to watch a movie featuring real-life ranching in the Nebraska Sandhill

Nebraska Ranching Family Hits the Big Screen

Custer Co. Foundation Receives Donation from Tiffany Theater “Ocean of Grass” Ticket Sales

Ocean of Grass documents ranch life

Ocean of Grass – A Way of Life

KRVN interview with Georg Joutras

Documentary Offers View of Sandhills Life

Story: The Zen Ranch

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My history with the McGinn Ranch began in 2003 when I stopped in a for what I thought would be a couple hours’ visit. Almost a week later, I finally dragged myself away from the meditative essence and intriguing personalities of the ranch. Since then I have visited the ranch too many times to count. I find its Zen-like magic never ceases to reinvigorate my being.

The people that call this place home are a unique breed: hard working, private, confident, honest, artistic and, as Laron McGinn states, “comfortable in their own skin”. This area is a land of limited population, even more limited job opportunities, and a harshness brought on by climate. But the Sandhills of Nebraska can also be idyllic, sublime, and on those special days in the spring and fall, truly magical. 

My goal in making this film was to capture what makes this region, and specifically this ranch, so special. Those who have visited will know to what I refer. There is a relaxed, yet watchful, atmosphere here. Combine this with the personalities of many who are larger than life, OCEAN OF GRASS provides a compelling and honest window into the ranching lifestyle, and a view back to many Americans’ historic vision of what makes this country great.

“I am not necessarily telling a STORY, I am telling a FEELING

I’ve been asked how would I explain the film.  At a basic level, it can be simply stated as “a year in the life of a ranch”.

But thematically,  I am not necessarily telling a story, I am telling a feeling.

The film presents itself in a pacing reminiscent of how I was exposed to the ranch…in a measured, timeless, and somewhat meandering manner: the same way a person gets to know any place in depth. Each time I visited I learned more about this place, this region, and the people that call the Sandhills home.

It is the feeling of this particular ranch – at this moment in time – I attempt to capture in the film.

Meeting the individuals of this area, one notices that the people can be somewhat reserved. You get to know them slowly, similar to peeling back the layers of an onion, each layer presenting you something different. The story eventually coalesces together in a sum larger than the parts, leaving the viewer with an intuitive feeling for the people and the place.

This film is not presented in the typical story arc. The story was dictated by the ranch, what it presented each day, and imbues a slow buildup of character development and appreciation of the Sandhills Region.  OCEAN OF GRASS is an organic journey, some may say about nothing, but in reality it is about everything important in life all rolled up into the ranch. Life, family, gratitude, hard work, perseverance, the love of one’s God, friends and community. In the end, it is an honest and personal look at being who you are and treating all inhabitants of this earth with respect.

OCEAN OF GRASS was filmed over a 22 month span in Custer County, Nebraska. I assisted in the day to day activities on the ranch during my visits, but had to be ready to switch into cinematographer mode to capture those moments that encapsulate the ranch narrative.

If you go out there, driving through the hills in a pickup as the cows are fed, or helping with the rituals of roundup and branding, I hope you will find this film captures what you feel. It is the experience of the ranch, the realness and the rightness of this place and the Sandhills people in general.

-Georg Joutras

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Cast & Crew Bios

Georg Joutras
Filmmaker Georg Joutras reinvents himself as he moves through the journey of life. Georg’s interests and business experiences are many and varied. He created industry-changing software systems for radio and commerce, authored numerous books showcasing his spectacular photography, and found success in numerous other endeavors.

Georg devoted almost 4 years to bringing his vision for the Ocean of Grass movie to completion. Always one to get his hands dirty (“that’s where the fun is”), Georg acted as the Producer, Director, Cinematographer, Sound Recorder, Film Editor, and Colorist for the film, learning new skills as needed. While filming, he was involved in the daily operations of the ranch. Georg’s ability to anticipate and capture the defining moments of the ranch story brings a new level of immersion to the experience of watching the film.

This is his first feature length film.

He resides in Lincoln, Nebraska but continues to visit the ranch to reconnect with the essence of life and nature.

Mike McGinn (1936-2021)
Mike McGinn (1936-2021)THE ELDER
Tried and true is Mike’s viewpoint when running ranch operations. The years of struggle, dealing with the cold of winter, the heat of summer, and the highs and lows of a family ranch is reflected in his face. A true American, his pride in the ranch is evident.

Michael Conway McGinn, 85, of Dunning, Nebraska, passed away on September 19, 2021.

Mike was born on May 17, 1936, to Charley and Helen (Conway) McGinn at the family homestead west of Anselmo, Nebraska. After graduating from high school in Curtis, Nebraska, he came home to the family ranch where he spent his entire life as a rancher.

In 1956 he married Patti Iverson in Anselmo, Nebraska. After marriage, they moved to the McGinn Ranch south of Dunning. They raised two children, Laron McGinn of Dunning, and Karyn Seeley of Halsey.

Mike’s passion for ranching and flying spanned his entire life. He loved traveling the country with his family, visiting all 50 US states and Europe.  He also enjoyed many trips with in-laws, Jim and Colleen Higgins, and Sue and Dick Clark.

Over the years, Mike welcomed hundreds of visitors to the ranch.  He was always proud to show off the Sandhills and loved giving guests their first airplane ride. Mike was an avid chronicler of precipitation. He was known for his unique wit, a sly smile, strong faith, and his common decency.

Mike had great compassion for the cattle and horses that spent their lives on the ranch, and he loved his dachshunds, Dope, Puddles, Poo, and Pixley.  In addition, he raised an impressive herd of damn barn cats.

After the death of Patti in 1980, he married Jan Featherston in 1987.  Jerri Edelman came to live with Mike and Jan in 1990 and became a cherished sibling of the McGinn family.

Mike was preceded in death by parents Charley and Helen, wives Patti and Jan, stepson Craig Harris, and numerous close Sandhills friends.

He is survived by brother Butch (Shirley) McGinn, son Laron McGinn, daughter Karyn (John) Seeley, Jerri (Michael Zadiek) Edelman, grandchildren Jake (Megan) Seeley, Jess (Anna) Seeley, Cole (Jonnie) Seeley, eight great grandkids, and Jan’s children Valerie Harris, Julie (Bob) Long, Michael McCamley, Cindy (Wayne) Harris-Fuhrer, plus numerous nieces, and nephews.

The family would like to acknowledge the compassionate care he received at Brookestone View in Broken Bow, Nebraska.

Funeral services were Thursday, September 23, 2021, at the St. Anselm’s Catholic Church in Anselmo, NE with Father Neal Nollette officiating. Burial followed in the St. Anselm’s Catholic Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to St. Anselm’s Catholic Church or St. Anselm’s Catholic Cemetery.
An online guest book may be signed at www.govierbrother.com.

Butch McGinn
Butch is the younger brother of Mike McGinn. They have jointly run the ranch for decades, sharing responsibilities on many aspects of it’s operation. Butch is described best as man of kinetic energy, involved in many business and political endeavors in the Sandhills Region. He takes great pride in the ranch’s long term friendships with neighbors and cattle buyers.
Laron McGinn
A man of the world, Laron has lived the majority of his life on the ranch following stints in commercial art, television, and movie production. His paintings and sketches are widely collected, residing in numerous private collections around the globe. He has travelled extensively, lives life to the fullest, and is known as a treasured friend to those who have met him. Laron is the son of Mike McGinn.

Laron McGinn

Sandhills Art


View Laron’s art at www.laronmcginn.com.
Matt McGinn
Matt looks towards the future when envisioning how the operations of the ranch can be improved with new technologies and sound range management practices. He has studied and implemented the concepts inherent in increasing pasture rotation as a means to protect the fragile environment of the Nebraska Sandhills, while also producing more resources to feed the herd. A 3rd generation rancher, Matt deeply understands the importance of preserving the ranch legacy for his children.

Matt was a member of the University of Nebraska Football team that won national championships in the 1990’s, and is the head coach for the Anselmo-Merna football team in his spare time. He is the son of Butch McGinn, and is married with 3 children

Tom Larson
Tom Larson is Assistant Professor of Composition (Emerging Media and Digital Arts) at the Glenn Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Prior to becoming a faculty member at UNL, Tom was the co-owner of Studio Q Recording in Lincoln, where he produced music for TV and radio advertising, industrial videos and documentary films.

Tom Larson

A Musician of the Soul


Hear Tom’s music at www.tomlarsonmusic.net.

Among his credits are the scores for three documentaries for the PBS American Experience series (a production of WGBH-TV, Boston): In the White Man’s Image, Around the World in 72 Days, and Monkey Trial (which won a 2002 Peabody Award). He also scored the documentaries Willa Cather: The Road is All for WNET-TV (New York), Ashes from the Dust for the PBS series NOVA, and the PBS specials Standing Bear’s Footprint, Most Honorable Son and In Search of the Oregon Trail.

Tom has written extensively for the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, South Dakota Public Broadcasting and the University of Illinois Asian Studies Department. His music has also been used on the CBS-TV series The District. His commercial credits include music written for Phoenix-based Music Oasis, LA-based Music Animals, Chicago-based Pfeifer Music Partners and General Learning Communications, and advertising agencies in Lincoln and Omaha.

As a recording engineer, Tom has worked on numerous projects as tracking, mixing, and/or mastering engineer for artists such as Paul Barnes, Jackie Allen, Hans Sturm, François Rabbath, Diane Barger, Paul Haar, The Nebraska Jazz Orchestra, The Concordia String Trio, Brad Colerick, and others.

Tom is also the author of three college textbooks, The History and Tradition of Jazz (5th ed.), Modern Sounds: The Artistry of Contemporary Jazz (2nd ed.), and The History of Rock and Roll (5th ed.), all of which are published by Kendall/Hunt Publishing (Dubuque, IA). His CD of original jazz compositions, Flashback, was released in 2003. He has studied jazz piano with Dean Earle, Fred Hersch, Bruce Barth and Kenny Werner, jazz arranging with Herb Pomeroy and music composition with Robert Beadell and Randall Snyder. In addition to performing with jazz ensembles throughout the Midwest and East Coast, he has performed with Paul Shaffer, Victor Lewis, Dave Stryker, Chris Potter, Jackie Allen, Bobby Shew, Claude Williams, Bo Diddley, the Omaha Symphony, the Nebraska Chamber Orchestra, the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra, and Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra.

A Lincoln native, Tom received a Bachelor of Music in Composition from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts and a Master of Music in Composition from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is also an avid runner, and completed the Boston Marathon in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Kevin Anderson
Kevin AndersonTHE FIXTURE
A long time presence on the ranch, Kevin has spent over 25 years working with the McGinn’s. His knowledge, experience, and understanding of cattle operations is extensive and called on daily to help run the ranch. Kevin is a fixture in community service and local politics. He has served as the Mayor of Dunning, Nebraska, spent many years on the town school board, and currently is the long standing Fire Chief of the volunteer fire department. All three of Kevin’s sons have worked on the McGinn Ranch. His twin boys, Ridge and Riggin (March 19, 2000 – April 09, 2020), are featured in the film.

Riggin Scott Anderson (20) born on March 19th 2000 in Broken Bow Nebraska to Kevin and Jody and older brother Kale.  He was joined in birth with twin brother Ridge.  At a very young age Riggin became extremely busy and interested in motors and anything that ran, this favorite thing then, a vacuum cleaner.  He and his brother were always doing something, no rock left unturned in this little town. Riggin’s love of motors evolved to bigger things like the diesel pick up he drove and the surf boat he, Ridge and friends loved to spend time in at Lake McConaughy. A Huge outdoorsman he was, hunting many things throughout the year. Riggin was a very hard worker and was never one to just sit and do nothing. He had hardworking hands but a very soft heart and gave the best hugs you can ever get.  He loved the McGinn’s as though they were family.  He spent a lot of his working hours out at the Rifle Valley Ranch, he enjoyed the cattle, rolling hills and the smell of fresh cut hay.  Riggin had a smile and laugh that you can never forget. He had a very special young lady in his life, Avery, whom he adored. They shared a home and the enjoyment of their two dogs Charlie and Riley. Riggin and Avery had so many things in common it is crazy, as though they were just meant to be together. They were a joy to see grow and love life. Although his life was cut way too short, this kid made the most of it and one can say he had a “Good Run! ”


He was survived by his Parent Kevin and Jody, brothers Kale (Gretchen and niece Berkley) Ridge (special friend Logan) Girlfriend Avery Atkins, Grandparents Jerry and Dolly Grause, Grandpa Steve Anderson Uncle Corey (Tiff, Kutter and Grace) Anderson, Aunt Tiff (Kalon Jaxon and Hays) Fancher. He was proceeded in death by his Grandmother Marilyn Anderson

Funeral services were Monday, April 13, 2020 at the Sandhills High School in Dunning with Pastor Mark Sievering officiating. Burial in the Dunning Cemetery in Dunning, NE. In lieu of flowers memorials are suggested to Sandhills/Thedford High School Football and Weight Room. An online register book can be signed for words of encouragement or remembrance at www.govierbrothers.com and watch the video tribute in Riggin’s honor.

John Seeley
John SeeleyTHE GO-ER
A man of boundless energy, valued opinions, and a down to earth attitude, John is the epitome of the American Rancher. A hard worker who knows how to enjoy life, John will share his thoughts on almost any subject. More often than not these comments impart a wisdom many do not possess.
Al Bishop
Al Bishop met Laron McGinn in Italy in 2001. Laron was visiting and The Bishop Family was living there at the time. A few years later, Al and his family relocated to Nebraska from the east coast following his decades of service in the U.S. Air Force. Although he came to Nebraska hesitantly and at the insistence of his family, he has grown to be a true Nebraskan and a respected member of the community. Three of his sons have worked on the McGinn Ranch. Al is well known as a philosopher/wordsmith. He is renowed for his ability to turn a phrase.
Father Jim Hunt
Rev. Jim Hunt has served as priest in the area for over 10 years. He is currently the pastor of Saint Anselms Church in Anselmo, Nebraska and Saint Josephs Catholic Church in Broken Bow, Nebraska. He is a accomplished cook and connoisseur of fine food and wine. He has studied in Rome and travelled extensively throughout Italy.
Michael Bishop
Michael has an innate gift for verbalizing clear and insightful observations on life. He was raised in Italy and, after serving in the U.S. Army, spent several years working on the ranch. After leaving the ranch, Michael pursued a PhD in Psychology at the University of Wyoming and currently works with at risk youth. He is the son of Al Bishop.
Father Brian Bell
Father Brian BellTHE PADRE
A friend of the ranch for over 35 years, Rev. Brian Bell is the Pastor of St. Bernard of Clairvaux Church in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is a world traveller and is a true friend with a generous, compassionate soul.


Please pray for the soul of Fr. Brian Bell, 80, who passed away Wednesday, 14, 2022 at Abrazo West Campus Hospital. Fr. Bell was born on June 15, 1942 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to Dorothy and Rupert Bell.

Fr. Bell joined the Passionist Fathers in 1959. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 31, 1970, and sent to Jamaica, West Indies to serve as a missionary. In 1975 Fr. Bell returned to the U.S. where he served as Deputy Superintendent Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Miami, Florida. In 1976, he joined the Arizona Army National Guard and at the same time served in several parishes in the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona.

Fr. Bell entered the Arizona Army National Guard and served from 1984 to 1990 as Senior Chaplain for the 162nd Air National Guard. From 1990 to 2002, he served in active duty as chaplain in the U.S. Air Force. After retiring as a Lt.Col. in the Air Force, Fr. Bell served as the Parochial Vicar of St. Joan of Arc Parish. From 2003-2005, he served as Pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Wickenburg. He was incardinated into the Diocese of Phoenix on March 31, 2005. From 2005 to his retirement from ministry in 2019, he was Pastor of St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish in Scottsdale.Let us pray for the eternal repose of the soul of Fr. Brian Bell. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in Peace.

Fr. Bell will be inurned at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Wickenburg, AZ.

Karyn McGinn Seeley
Karyn McGinn SeeleyTHE DAUGHTER
Karyn is the daughter of Mike McGinn, and sister to Laron McGinn. She is married to rancher John Seeley. Although quiet in nature, Karyn is known for her biting wit that manifests itself when least expected.

Books by Georg Joutras

Cinematographer/Filmmaker Georg Joutras has spent decades capturing the sublime beauty of the earth. He has produced a series of fine art photography books that showcase the ranch, the Great Plains, and the world. 

Along the Edge of Daylight

A Way of Life


The National Grasslands

Seeing the Light of Day

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