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Women in Aviation
"Read Nick Spark's article about Pancho
from Women in Aviation magazine (.pdf)"
14 October 2008

Frequently Asked Questions

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and the Happy Bottom Riding Club

1. Where can I see the film? Where can I buy a copy of the film on DVD?
A 58-minute version of The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club is now airing on public television stations in the USA and in countries around the world.  You can also see it on the Air Show Buzz website, click here.  The original, extended version of the film which is seven minutes longer and "uncensored", is appearing at film festivals throughout North America.  See the screening schedule in the menu for more information. You may purchase a DVD that features BOTH versions of the film via this website using the "Buy DVD" link.

2. Will the film air on television? What if I don't have access to TV?
Yes. A 58-minute version of the documentary is currently airing around the United States via American Public Television, a public television network.  The film will also be streamed on the Air Show Buzz website so, if you don't have access to public television or live overseas, you can still see it!

3. Who made this film?
The filmmaking team consists of writer/producer Nick Spark, director Amanda Pope, associate producer Nathan May, and associate producer Dr. Dydia DeLyser. Nick is a documentary filmmaker with an MFA degree from the University of Southern California. He produced, wrote and directed Regulus: The First Nuclear Missile Submarines that appeared on Discovery Channel Europe, and his work as a student received two Emmy Awards. Amanda Pope’s long career includes work as a director and producer for PBS, and as a professor at the University of Southern California. She directed Jackson Pollock: Portrait for PBS and co-produced the Stacy Keach film Wilbur and Orville. Her new film The Desert of Forbidden Art will debut on PBS in 2011. Associate Producer Dydia DeLyser is a professor at Louisiana State University, who is known for her work in the field of women’s aviation history, and associate producer Nathan May is a very private fellow.

4. How was the film financed?
The documentary has been financed entirely through donations to the KOCE-TV Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit. Donors included private individuals, foundations, and granting organizations. The documentary has received some of these moneys from competitive grants, including the Wolf Aviation Fund, Lincy Foundation, Women in Film Finishing Fund, Clay Lacy Foundation and Pacific Pioneer Fund.

See our donors list, available through the menu, for a full list of our supporters.  Thanks to one and all.

5. Has KOCE-TV / PBS contributed to the production costs?
No. KOCE-TV has only been involved solely as an entity that manages the donations to the project, and oversees the management of the account. KOCE-TV has also provided some oversight for the production, and has reviewed cuts of the film on a periodic basis.

6. Why did you choose to make the film on a non-profit basis?
Making a documentary film like this one is an expensive proposition. We knew from the start that it would be unlikely that we could recover those costs from sales. Documenting history is rarely a money-making enterprise, and while a network like the History Channel is a for-profit, the quality of their programming varies because of the amount of time and cost they are willing to use to support their productions. The Legend of Pancho Barnes has been produced with high production values, and at relatively low cost. Incidentally, similar PBS productions, such as the films made by Ken and Ric Burns or “The American Experience” series, often have per-episode costs of over a million dollars. (Ken Burns’ Baseball cost roughly $750,000 per episode). Our final finished cost will be less than ¼ of that.

7. I know someone who knew Pancho. Should I put them in touch with you? People who knew Pancho frequently contact us. After all, she was a public figure who came into contact with many people throughout her lifetime – and she made an impression. The film is at this time completed, so we’re no longer looking for people to interview for it. That being said, we’re always interested in learning more about Pancho!

8. Who is the Pancho Barnes Trust Estate and how are they involved in the making of the film?
The Pancho Barnes Trust Estate is a privately-held entity, that controls the rights to Pancho Barnes’ name and likeness. The Estate has granted permission to the filmmakers to make the film, and has supported their efforts by giving them access to materials in the Estate and the archive it maintains. The Estate has not provided any financial support for the project, has not had any creative control over the project, and will not benefit materially from the production of the film. The Estate has licensed Pancho’s name and likeness for a variety of products and ventures through Pancho Barnes Enterprises, a California corporation.  Visit the links page for more information and to visit their website.

9. What do you hope the impact of the film will be?
The film explores not just the life of Pancho Barnes, but an entire era in aviation history. It recaptures, at least in part, the spirit of both the “Golden Age of Flight” in the 20’s and 30’s, and the “Golden Era of Flight Test” in the 40’s and 50’s. Both were time periods in which people did courageous things, in the name of advancing aviation. Pancho was a part of all that, and it is our hope that the film will inspire people to explore that history further, and celebrate it.

We sincerely hope The Legend of Pancho Barnes will speak to a broad audience, and inspire them in other ways as well. For women, especially young women, the film can be empowering. Pancho is not a role model in some respects, but in others she certainly is: she was, after all, a forceful woman who did things few people ever dreamed of doing, and who persevered despite steep odds.

Pancho’s accomplishments were real ones, and she achieved them in a world dominated by men. She did that, despite the fact that she was not a model or movie star. In fact, she did it entirely because she wasn’t one. The film will clarify her role in history, and change some misperceptions about her, and hopefully restore her to her rightful place in the pantheon of aviation.

10. Who would I contact to find out more about the project, or answer questions about it?
Producer and writer Nick Spark is the point person for most questions. He can be reached via this website.

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The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club ©2008-2010 Nick Spark Productions, LLC.