Filmed and edited over the course of four years, “Mule Days” documents an obscure, sometimes ridiculous, often moving celebration of mules held annually in the tiny town of Bishop, California. Tens of thousands of Mule People flock here every year to celebrate their animals and acknowledge a time when they were more than a dying breed.
The documentary focuses on three unique Mule People at pivotal points in their lives. Mike Toberer, a packer facing potentially devastating economic times, tries to pass on his century-old way of life to his son. Tucker Slender, a retired cowboy, creates a new life for himself as his friends fade away. And Dale Woodard, a chicken-loving rodeo clown on the last show of his career, puts his life as an absent father in perspective.
As much a series of character portraits as it is a vérité document of the town’s celebration, “Mule Days” swirls with energy and empathy for all of its subjects. Their stories encapsulate life in the fading American Southwest.
Directed & Edited by Joseph Peeler
Produced by Jesse Hays
Director of Photography Ryan Carmody
Documented by David Barnes, Ryan Carmody, Jesse Hays, Jason khan, Joseph Peeler, Nathan Schwab
Original Music Written & Performed by Dave Hall, Nick Martus, & Aaron Stein-Chester
January 23, 2013
May 18, 2012