A Documentary Work in Progress

by John McDonald

The Film

You spot a somewhat disheveled man with three fully loaded pack mules walking though your community. What the … ?

This strange and, to many, awe‐inspiring sight has been experienced by thousands of people in small towns and large cities throughout the western United States. But who is he and what is he doing? Is he lost in the wrong century? Is he homeless? Is he on a mission?

John Sears, aka Mule, has been roaming the western United States with his three mules for thirty years, trying to find balance between the man‐made and the natural worlds. The aged man and his animals sleep outside every day, moving from place to place as they please. While many appreciate Mule’s nomadic lifestyle and applaud his courage, he’s not welcomed everywhere.

The feature‐length work‐in‐progress documentary takes an intimate look at an intriguing, but controversial character, his unique experiences and adventures, and his urgent message for contemporary society. Regardless of how we personally feel about Mule as an individual, the issues he raises concern all of us: preserving open space and connecting communities together by multi‐use trails, individual freedom of movement and access to public land, and the system’s treatment of people living outside society’s norms.

The Filmmaker

John McDonald, Producer/Director/Cinematographer, has been a filmmaker for the past 35 years and established his production company, John McDonald Productions Inc., in 1980. The company has produced award­‐winning projects for industry, education and television as a full­‐service provider. John is a member of the Directors Guild of America and the International Documentary Association. John received a degree in Cinema from USC, where he made Cotton Eyed Joe, a globally recognized documentary that made the Oscar’s shortlist. Later, he shot the Oscar­‐nominated short documentary, SQUIRES of San Quentin. His award-winning feature­‐length documentary The Ghost Mountain Experiment aired on KQED’s Truly CA series and on the CBC’s national Documentary series. Its festival run included Telluride MountainFilm, Big Sky, Cinequest, MountainFilm (Trento), Sedona, and the international environmental film festivals in Washington, D.C. and Rome.  On The Day, shot in Scotland, Canada, and the U.S., was released theatrically in 53 theatres across Canada, aired on the CBC’s national Bold series in 2011 and is distributed in the U.S. by American Public Television. In 2013 John completed the feature documentary, Pipes & Sticks on Route 66, which had nationwide Canadian theatrical release and is scheduled to roll out in the US in 2014.

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