By Kipp Tabb | Correspondent
Jerry Thompson wasn’t upset when his documentary film about the Outer Banks wild horses, “The Secret of Corolla,” placed second at the 2021 EQUUS Film & Arts Fest.
The winning entry was Robert Redford’s film, “The Mustangs: America’s Wild Horses,” putting the second place finish in perspective.
“The Redford film was mostly about the [Bureau of Land Management] ponies out west. So, to come in second place behind a Robert Redford film. I’m okay with that,” he said.
The EQUUS second-place ribbon is not the only winning entry Thompson’s film has had. He also won an Award of Excellence at the Shelby Foothills Film Festival.
The movie, about 30 minutes long, is a beautifully filmed tribute to the four-wheel drive area of Carova on the northern Outer Banks as much as it is the story of the wild horses that roam there. Although he touches on the history of the Corolla herd, by design he does not come to any conclusions.
“I think it was more important to realize what we have, and not make a big deal out of something that’s sort of irrelevant,” he said. “It’s more important that we enjoy it and protect it than it is to win an argument about genetics.
Thompson said the Outer Banks has been a special place throughout his life. He grew up in Norfolk and our strip of the coast was, “…my dad’s absolute favorite place.”
He’s living in Tennessee now, but the Outer Banks still call to him.
“When I had kids we made that our go-to place,” he said. “It’s my favorite place to vacation on the earth.”
While on vacation in Carova in 2016, the idea for a movie first took root.
“We were staying in the 4×4, around 2016. Just looking around, it’s such a peaceful, calming place. I got to thinking, ‘how did this place get like this.’ That was the seed for the idea to do the movie,” Thompson said.
As a professional filmmaker, a movie was the natural outlet for telling the story. His film company, Big Dog Films, had been making movies for schools and corporations for a number of years, but nothing like his award-winning Outer Banks project.
“‘The Secret of Corolla’ is my first film that I did for me. It’s a challenge and it took us a while from 2016 until 2021. So it was a good four-and-a-half year process of getting through it and I loved every second of it,” Thompson said.
There may be more awards coming later this year. He entered the film in the International Equus Film and Arts Festival in Dillon, Montana.
“The festival is in September,” he said. “I sure would love to go to that. That would be a fun time.”
You can purchase the “The Secret of Corolla” on the Corolla Wild Horse Fund’s website at corollawildhorses.com.