Sándor's Oregon Trail

  1. In Sándor’s Oregon Trail, writer and filmmaker Sándor Lau walks from Missouri to Oregon in the footsteps of the pioneers and the moccasins of native people. Without dying of dysentery.

    On his journey through 2,000 miles of rattlesnakes, wildfires, and high-velocity lead poisoning, Sándor discovers the center of the universe in the middle of nowhere. Showcasing traditional skills used by emigrants on wagon trains and by indigenous people who belonged to this land long before the Great Medicine Road, this living history show rediscovers the American West as a place in our hearts more than a space on a map.

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  2. By the time the emigrants had reached Chimney Rock in what's now western Nebraska, they'd completed about a third of their journey to Oregon. To be clear, this was the easiest third, and yet it was still no small accomplishment. Many had turned back before reaching here or died along the way. To reach here emigrants had survived over 600 miles of baking sun, choking dust, rattlesnakes, infernal mosquitos, disease, accidents, and let's not forget the crushing, grinding boredom of walking 15-20 miles a day in leather boots with no cushions. And yet, once they reached here, they would travel another four miles round trip from camp just to see the glory of chimney rock up close. Of other historic note, the world's largest ball of string was not an available tourist attraction at the time.
    Alone out here, with just the camera, the rock, and the prairie, I can't think when I've been in better company. And I sleep better in the tent than anywhere else, which I think is the very definition of home.

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  3. Water is life and for hundreds of miles across what's today Southern Nebraska, the Platte river was the lifeline for emigrants on the Oregon Trail. Lewis and clark had attempted to float a keelboat up the platte without success. Emigrants used to joke that the platte was a mile wide and an inch deep, too thick to drink, too thin to plow. But the river gave them almost everything they needed, it showed them the way, it brought game to eat, it watered the animals, and when they ran out of whisky, they had to drink something.The word Platte comes from the French meaning flat. The French name comes from the Otoe tribe's original name for the river, meaning flat water. That Otoe word also gave us the state name, Nebraska.

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  4. Sándor Lau pitches Sándor's Oregon Trail documentary television series to TV executives from Oregon Pubic Broadcasting, A&E, National Geographic Channel, Travel Channel and others. Moderated by reality TV guru Donna Michelle Anderson from Planet DMA. This event took place Sept 12, 2012 at Pacific Theatres in Culver City, California. Here's a quote from Donna Michelle Anderson, “You’re great. I think this is shot beautifully. You’re more than great. You’re quite a talent and you couldn’t hold a room any better. From the minute you stood up, I was like, this guy, he’s got it. You really are the star of your own show."

    Start: Sandor introduces himself and the project.
    02:45 Sandor continues pitch
    07:30 Panelists respond to the pitch. These include David Padrusch from Travel Channel, JT Ladt from National Geographic, Dave Davis from Oregon Public Broadcasting, Laura Fleury from A&E, Lee White from William Morris Agency and DMA.

    Filmed on the day by the talented Erinnisse Heuer of Tupleo Productions.

    More about the annual Westdoc conference at thewestdoc.com.

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  5. Tribes like the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla were here long before there was an Oregon Trail and their lives were never the same afterward. Fred Hill of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation talks about growing up with his tribal language taught to him by his grandmother and listening to coyotes tell things to come. Filmed on the Umatilla Reservation in Northwest Oregon on the prairie near Tamástslikt Cultural Institute. myoregontrail.com

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Sándor's Oregon Trail

Sándor Lau

To make Sándor's Oregon Trail, documentarian Sándor Lau walks 2,000 miles from Independence Missouri to the Willamette Valley in the footsteps of the pioneers, trying to avoid stepping on buffalo pies and prairie trout. Along the way he meets modern day…

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To make Sándor's Oregon Trail, documentarian Sándor Lau walks 2,000 miles from Independence Missouri to the Willamette Valley in the footsteps of the pioneers, trying to avoid stepping on buffalo pies and prairie trout. Along the way he meets modern day homesteaders, and oral historians keeping the spirit of the Trail alive. He also explores the stories and meets the descendants of the tribes whose lives were forever changed by the flood of newcomers to their ancestral lands.


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