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On Set with the Bison Boys

Local company puts Idaho Falls on the creative map with docuseries

Published online: May 22, 2019 Best of IF, East Idaho Outdoors, Videos
Viewed 1134 time(s)

By Christian Evans

Eastern Idaho is best known for potato farming and all-season outdoor activities with its proximity to ski resorts and national parks. Most might not think of it as a prime location for creative types, but one company is hoping to change that.

An upcoming docuseries called “Bison Boys” follows two Idaho Falls bison ranchers. Porter Pro Media, based in Idaho Falls, is banking on their new project to put Idaho Falls on the creative map.

The series trailer, which was released last November, has accumulated over 100,000 views on Facebook and generated attention from the production industry.

Out of their office space here in Idaho Falls, Porter Pro Media provides a wide range of digital marketing services, including SEO, social media, web design and video production. The company has produced videos for local clients such as BMW of Idaho Falls, a jewelry store, a carpet company and a gym. But nothing they have produced compares to the ambition of their latest project.

Bison Boys began at a family reunion — Tyler Porter, the CEO and co-founder of the business, is related to the subjects by marriage. The series follows Brock and Brigham Ball, two brothers who raise bison on ranches throughout Idaho and South Dakota. It was their father that first approached Porter to pitch an idea for a movie about bison ranchers.

Porter met with the Ball brothers and their father several times to work out the details. Soon the idea shifted from a film about the bison industry overall to a more personal narrative about the ranchers in the form of a documentary series.

With barely any cell phone service at a spot near Salmon, Porter texted Mark Richardson, the creative director at Porter Pro Media, about the idea. Soon, they became excited about the idea, and plans were underway to produce a series that has taken the company in a whole new direction.

Filming began in late September of last year. The first season of the show will cover a full calendar year to showcase the lives of the ranchers and the bison throughout each season.

Brock and Brigham manage four different ranches in Malad, Lemhi, Swan Valley and South Dakota. Their job means frequent traveling. The show’s production bounces between these locations, following the brothers as they tend to the bison at each of the ranches.

“They have a strong appreciation for the animal, and it’s a deep respect that they have,” Richardson said. “It’s not that they’re just running a ranch and getting everything they can out of this animal. It’s really a stewardship-type position that they’re in, trying to give these animals everything they need to thrive.”

Porter and Richardson hope to wrap up filming by the summer. From there, they need to find which network — or streaming service — is the right fit, with the goal of a spring 2020 release.

The “Bison Boys” production includes Porter, Richardson and two other crew members.

To shoot the series, the crew primarily used a RED Scarlet camera. Other equipment included a Canon C200, a drone and GoPros to capture the action.

The freezing temperatures of Idaho made filming a grueling task. The crew had to deal with below zero temperatures, wind, dust, rain and snow. The elements especially impacted their gear. But multiple parts of the production made things difficult.

“We wouldn’t be doing it if we weren’t passionate about it,” Richardson said. “It’s that amount of work and that amount of hardship, that this wouldn’t be worth it if we didn’t want to do it.”

Brock and Brigham deal with wild animals for a living, and this can sometimes put them in danger. The crew witnessed some close calls, but mostly stayed safe themselves.

“We’re dealing with not just the weather; we’re dealing with an animal that we can’t really direct,” Porter said. “And so, all of those elements combined definitely make it difficult, but they also make it extremely rewarding when you do get what you need to get because we had to fight to get what we want.”

One of the more notable aspects of this production is its genesis as a project by a company from Idaho Falls about people from Idaho Falls.

While many interested in the film industry flock to big cities like Los Angeles and New York, “Bison Boys” shows that professional films can come from anywhere.

“It goes to show; if you want to do something, you’re passionate enough about it, it doesn’t matter where you are,” Porter said.

As Porter Pro Media breaks boundaries of what is expected for creatives in the area, they want to show local companies that it is possible to produce cinematic content.

“It’s a new chapter, I think, for our business and it’s absolutely something that we want to be more a part of,” Porter said. “We’re hoping this is just the first of many.”

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