Locally-Produced Historic Documentary Grabs the Gold in National Contest

UPHS Second Major Film Project Now Underway;  Completion Date Set For Dec. 2023

Trevor Phipps

The Ute Pass region recently welcomed the production of one of the first major documentary films focusing on the history of the area.

The film, “Dude Ranches in the Shadow of Pikes Peak,” was produced by the Ute Pass Historical Society (UPHS)  and was completed earlier this year. In the last few months, it  has been showcased at Woodland Park’s Gold Hill Theatres before sell-out crowds.

Besides becoming the talk of the town, the Dude Ranches documentary has won some prestigious awards and acclamations in nationally-recognized film competitions.

Last month, UPHS learned that the film had won the top award at one major film festival. Also, it had been accepted into another big world-wide contest. The film was selected as a winner for “best documentary” at the 2023 Orlando International Film Festival.

The Dude Ranches documentary is slated to be shown at the Florida festival on July 16,  and then the top award for this genre will be given to the production team later that evening. The film was also recently selected to be a part of the 2024 Cine Paris Film Festival taking place next year in France.

“Dude Ranches in the Shadow of Pikes Peak” was presented differently than most documentaries with director Robert Adriel choosing to take another approach towards producing an educational movie.

“When we first sat down and started talking about the project we wanted to make it a little more interactive and personable than the ones we had seen,” the movie director said. “So that when people see these two characters going through this journey, the audience is going on the journey with them. We wanted to make it more of a connection for folks so those that don’t know anything about the history feel more connected to it and want to know more. And those that have been here feel like it was a great way to express what their family members might have been through or people they knew that went to these ranches. We wanted to give everyone a chance to feel like they were part of it.”

The film’s star actors, Christy Cole and Charlie Chambers, lead the audience through the stories of five local dude ranches from the past. The documentary told the stories of the ranches and the people who came to the West to start them.

For those who have yet to see the film, there will still be some showings this week at the Gold Hill Theatres in Woodland Park. The next two showings take place for $7 at the local theatre this Wednesday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m.

UPHS Starts Production of Second Documentary Film

After the first film was so well-received by the community as proven by multiple sold out showings and the winning of a major award, UPHS didn’t waste any time to start producing their next film project. Adriel, along with his team and the UPHS crew, started working on the second  historic documentary earlier this year.

This time, the new film will focus on the Midland Railroad that used to run through Teller County as well as the Midland Terminal, which went from Divide to Cripple Creek. The story will also discuss the many towns that sprouted across the region due to the railroad.

For the historical society’s second film, Cole and Chambers will be back on the screen to tell the story. Local railroad enthusiasts and historians Dave Martinek and Mel McFarland will also have a role in researching and telling tales on camera.

Similar to the last project, the documentary will also feature accounts from other local historians and members of UPHS. So far the script for the new film, entitled “The Mighty Midland and the Towns It Built,” has been written. Filming is slated to begin in Teller County and other areas in the state next week.

The Mighty Midland documentary is slated for completion by December of this year.