‘Ace - The Gas Station Cowboy’ dir. Kyle Pugh & Evan H. Senn

A vignette on music, love, and awareness.

Directors: Kyle Pugh & Evan H. Senn
Editor: Evan H. Senn
Score: David Nyman

C8: How did you come across the figure of Ace and why did you decide to make a documentary about him?

ES: Kyle and I met Ace about a year ago in Italy, Texas. We were on our way to a shoot and stopped for gas, and there was Ace. Ace was in his usual spot, singing and making people smile. I asked Ace to pose for a photo and he gave me a big smile and I pressed the shutter. Honestly, I thought that’d be the last time we ever saw him.

During that time, Kyle and I had been making our Happy Old Guy trilogy. After looking at Ace’s picture over and over I tried to imagine what his story might be. I knew there was something interesting there, so I called the gas-station a few months later and they gave me his personal contact. Once I contacted Ace, he was extremely helpful and happy to be a part of the film.

C8: The film was created by your company Brigade Visual Support. Tell us about the company and how it’s different from a single director taking on a project.

ES: Kyle and I started Brigade Visual Support to put an emphasis on quality image handling and delivery. We both come from commercial backgrounds and wanted to see a return to high-end image creation. At the end of the day, as filmmakers, we want a quality story and the best images we can deliver.

It’s a great collaboration between Kyle and myself as we work very well together and come from different backgrounds that bring different skill-sets to the table. The team approach brings twice the brainpower to the set and we help each other bring out the very best in a story.

C8: What did you shoot on and what was the reasoning behind this choice?

ES: Ace the Gas Station Cowboy was shot on the Red Epic Dragon. We knew we wanted to over-shoot at 5k for a 4k delivery (which allowed for re-cropping and repositioning as well as a few subtle push-ins). Also we planned on plenty of slow-motion portraits, which the Epic allowed us to do. 

C8: Did Ace open up quite naturally for you or did it take some work?

ES: Ace was extremely eager to share his story from the start. There are some very interesting things on the cutting room floor that didn’t make it into the edit simply for the sake of a simple and short film. Ace was kind enough to talk to us on multiple occasions and was happy to answer any questions we had, including the deeply personal ones.

C8: Along with producing and directing you also worked as the cinematographer, editor and colourist. How did you juggle wearing so many different hats?

ES: One bite at a time. But we only take on the roles we can handle. The rest we pass on to those more knowledgeable and more talented than ourselves. We couldn’t have done this without the help of David Nyman on music, Frank Trube on audio-finishing. As well as Matthew McNary, Roger Strunk, and Method Productions on the graphics. 

C8: What had you done before The Gas Station Cowboy and what have you done since?

ES: Kyle and I both come from long backgrounds in commercial production in which we’ve been lucky enough to travel to some incredible places and shoot some great projects. But Brigade Visual Support is a new endeavor.  Once we started Brigade Visual Support, we made our Happy Old Guy short-film trilogy. But now that that has wrapped, it’s on to the next one. And we’ve got some fun ideas in the works.

C8: What is the essence of a good collaboration?

ES: Good attitudes, and good intentions. My good friend told me to “weed your garden” and get rid of all the bad influences on set (and in life). I also believe in speaking up when needed and keeping quiet when needed and most importantly, knowing how to tell the difference.

C8: What’s next for you? Any exciting projects lined up?

ES: We were lucky enough to film the first ever Dream Roll in Mt. Adams Washington. The Dream Roll is a women’s only motorcycle event in the Pacific Northwest. It was created to unite women from all riding backgrounds to meet up and have a weekend of adventure. It was put on by the awesome gals at The Women’s Moto Exhibit.

Also we have a few more documentaries in mind as well as some fun commercial projects in the works.