Kevin Marcus and C.J. Longhammer (in middle wearing black) with National Pony Express Association members
C.J. Longhammer wants to film an action-packed Western about the Pony Express, but to really research what the lives of riders was like, he decided to make a documentary first. And he did it just in time for the 150th anniversary.
The Pony Express was only in service from April 1860 to November 1861, but it left a mark on American history, as men would cross rugged and dangerous terrain on horseback to deliver important documents. “Those riders went 2,000 miles in 10 days from St. Joseph, Missouri all the way to Sacramento,” Longhammer says. “And I lived in St. Joseph for almost a year making this film.”
Longhammer, who did visual effects for X-Men: First Class, worked on his film, Spirit of the Pony Express, with producer Kevin Marcus. It goes in depth on Pony Express history, recounts the 150th anniversary re-ride of the National Pony Express Trail by the National Pony Express Association and introduces those who dedicate their lives to preserving this part of US history.
Capitalizing on the Sundance Film Festival, Longhammer, Marcus, members of the National Pony Express Association and locals gathered to celebrate the film at Cicero’s in Park City on Jan. 23. “I’m trying to evoke the spirit of Sundance,” says Longhammer. “I wanted to do something Robert Redford would be proud of.” Guests saw a 22-minute trailer of the film and Cicero’s served free Bloody Marys at the event.
The Gentle Barn directors Ellie Laks and Jay Weiner
The Gentle Barn, a non-profit that rehabilitates abused and neglected animals, was also at the event. Ellie Laks, co-director of the organization, says they’re currently operating in California, but hope to expand to Utah in a few years.
Pat Hearty, member of the National Pony Express Association
Pat Hearty has been a member of the National Pony Express Association for 30 years. He came to the event wearing the yellow scarf, red shirt and blue jeans he wears on Pony Express rides. He says the association is always looking for great riders, and right now Utah has about 70, but they have to be "great" riders. Click here for more info.