“SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS ONE. IT’S IMPORTANT.”
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.
Real Quotes from Real Viewers
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“A TOTALLY UNIQUE FILM”
that bridges the gap between a documentary and a feature. With a pacing that reflects the Sandhills, this is a masterpiece.
– Patricia R.
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What are you waiting on? Your family will love it!! Watch it together!
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.
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After 18 months in theaters, OCEAN OF GRASS is now available on DVD, High 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
“YOU HEAR THE AUTHENTIC VOICES”
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.
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.
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WE LOVE THE SANDHILLS!
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“
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Cast & Crew Bios
Tom LarsonA Musician of the Soul
COMPOSER, JAZZ PIANIST, RECORDING ENGINEER, EDUCATOR, AUTHORHear Tom’s music at www.tomlarsonmusic.net.
Books by Georg Joutras