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Film Review: A Fine Step
Only a genuine horse enthusiast can become truly excited over the mere rumor of a new horse movie. However, this summer’s latest release, “A Fine Step,” directed by Jonathan Meyers, is something a bit more special than the ordinary horse film. The movie follows a classic equine-based plot—expert trainer Cal Masterson (Luke Perry) and his Paso Fino named Fandango are involved in an accident, but with the help of some unlikely friends, they overcome the odds and return to the show ring. So what makes this movie more interesting than most, particularly for Mid-Southerners? The majority of filming was completed in Memphis, Tennessee!
Those who are familiar with the region can easily identify some of the main settings for the movie. During the show ring scenes, the familiar bleacher seats and large aisle behind the bleachers are clearly aspects of the Shelby Showplace Arena, which plays host to an array of equine events each year. The filmmakers also took advantage of the barns and covered warm-up arena behind the main show ring, using this as the fundamental scene of the accident, which sets the plot in motion. Some less obvious sets include the open pastures of Shelby Farms Park, along Mullins Station and Raleigh LaGrange Roads.
Beyond the obvious backdrop of the Showplace Arena, during the show ring scenes a large number of farm banners can be seen lining the arena walls. Those are not simply props to create the feel of a real show; they are actual Paso Fino farms in the Mid-South area, such as Shady Creek Ranch of Memphis, and Misty Pines Paso Finos of Rossville, TN. Not only were the farms’ banners on display, but many of the highlighted farms also provided horses as extras for the show scenes, and many family members acted as spectators in the stands.
One farm in particular, Horse Haven, located in Poplarville, MS and owned by the Gascon family, provided their horse “Substituto” to play the role of Fandango, the star character of the movie, who worked alongside Luke Perry, best known for his role as Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210. Members of the Gascon family were also highly involved in making of the film. Michael Gascon, a professional Paso Fino trainer, played stunt double for Luke Perry in many of the scenes that required working with Fandango. Brooke Gascon, Michael’s sister, was also asked to stunt double for Anna Claire Sneed, who plays the role of Claire, a horse-crazy teenager who helps Cal Masterson through the aftermath of his accident.
As a story line, A Fine Step can leave something to be desired for more experienced horsemen, as it presents a superficial approach to horses in general, failing to uncover any real insight into Paso Fino breed itself, and fumbles over basics of horsemanship. However, the movie does have a heartwarming ending that never gets old, and is suitable for all ages, making it the perfect choice for a family movie night.
For more information about “A Fine Step,” visit their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Afinestep. To learn more about the Paso Fino breed or to contact some of the local Paso Fino farms featured in the film visit the Paso Fino Horse Association website (www.pfha.org) or the Tennessee Valley Paso Fino Horse Association website (www.tvpfha.org).
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