Synopsis: “A Pony and His Boy: The Story of Berry & Josh” directed by Julianne Neal, shows the power of a pony and the effect that he has had on one small boy.
Josh, an 8-year-old with Down Syndrome, had been afraid of animals, especially horses, all of his life. One summer afternoon, when walking in the pasture full of horses with his mom and Lisa, Josh was asked “Do you want to ride?” When he surprisingly said yes, they caught him off-guard, swept him up and placed him on Berry.
The relationship that started between Berry and Josh that day has been life-changing, not only for Josh, but for everyone who loves him.
The Marley Project, Inc.
This has been one of the most rewarding projects I’ve had the opportunity to direct. When I had the initial conversation with Lisa Diersen about the story, I was so excited about the concept. We had worked together several times and have the same belief in the power of horses to change lives, so I had a feeling this would be a powerful film, but at that time, I didn’t know exactly how strong it would become. Lisa had original footage from the day that Josh first agreed to sit on Berry, after years of a debilitating fear of animals, so we started with that. When I set up the initial interviews at the World Equestrian Games in North Carolina in the fall with some of the people who had been involved with Josh and Berry, I started to see the story unfold and it has been a magical experience ever since. All of the film and photo contributions from so many people in Illinois and South Carolina have made the story very organic, and having the chance to involve my student filmmakers in gathering local footage was the icing on the cake! Thank you Lisa, Josh, Julie and Jason for allowing me to tell your story!
Julianne Neal is the owner of JA Media Connections LLC, a production company out of South Carolina. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a Masters in Teachers and a Masters in Educational Administration. She completed the Director’s Program of the Manhattan Film Institute in 2017. As an educator and the Coordinator of Visual and Performing Arts for the Fairfield County School District, she enjoys engaging students in the filmmaking process, giving them hands-on experience in production. Through district level Arts in The Basic Curriculum and Distinguished Arts Program Awards over the past decade, she is proud that the district’s arts department has increased arts opportunities, initiated film study and STEAM education, and partnered with the Student Services department to enhance opportunities in for students with special needs.
Julianne partners with Bruce Anderson to provide services for Nature’s View, Inc. and The Marley Project, a non-profit 501(c)(3) dedicated to equine awareness and education through the arts. For more about their programs, visit naturesview.us or jamediaconnections.com.