It’s 1921 in the tiny rural town of Boley, Oklahoma, founded just two decades before by Creek Freedmen whose ancestors had been held as slaves during the Indian Removal of the 1830s. As the cameras crank, a sturdy young cowhand of African-American and Cherokee descent mounts his horse and holds him steady as the horse anxiously stomps the ground with his forelegs, snorts, and tosses his mane. At the clink of an opening cattle gate, horse and rider bolt out across the corral, quickly closing in on a young steer. The rider slides out of the saddle and onto the steer, holding a horn in each hand and sinking his teeth into the steer’s lip. With a mighty twist, the young cowboy, who would become known worldwide as “The Bull Dogger,” brings the steer to the ground and the crowd to its feet. With this scene, Bill Pickett, the second of 13 children born to a former slave, became an international name. Already famous on the rodeo circuit for his invention of the bull dogging sport and his performances with the famed Miller Bros. 101 Ranch Wild West Show that featured the likes of Buffalo Bill, Will Rogers, Tom Mix, and Bee Ho Gray, Pickett further broke racial barriers in entertainment with star turns in two silent films and a dramatic performance in Mexico that incensed locals and prompted a 200-mounted men escort of Pickett and his crew to safety. Nearly a century later, Bull Doggin’ – The Bill Pickett Story examines Pickett’s enduring impact on film, stunt performing, and rodeo as we know it today.
Director/Producer | Robbie Gordon