Excerpt from a short film by Merri Lisa Trigilio

People & Place

Montana Getz is a rodeo barrel-racer, horse trainer, and painter.  This text is from a short film by Merri Lisa Trigilio

MERRI says: “I was drawn to Montana (Tana) Getz the first time I met her.  A friend introduced me to her at a yoga class and what struck me about her was her passion and youth. She clearly honors her intuition — something I am just now coming to trust in my own life.  After five years of coming to Montana during vacations, I cut ties to a 20-year career as a petroleum geologist and made the permanent move two years ago.

  “I am continually amazed at the people who inhabit my valley. It is a place for cattle ranchers, oil and gas men, conservationists, fly-fishers, hunters, rock-climbers, extreme skiers, mountaineers, outdoors folks of every type — all passion-seekers longing to connect with the idea of freedom that this expansive landscape and its people embody. 

  “My photographic project strives to visually translate the idea of the physical landscape acting as a catalyst in our lives and our imagination.  Tana makes this a tangible reality in the way she navigates the natural contours of her world, the wheat fields, the ranch work, and her struggle to support herself.”


MONTANA says: “My parents named me ‘Montana’, and ‘Tana’, for short.  They used me like a wishing well.  It was like, ok, we named our child Montana with the hope of making a move to Montana a tangible reality.

“The horses are the main passion in my life and you can see that reflected in my art. Usually about once a year I will have an incredible dream about a Pegasus stud that comes across the field and somehow something happens and he saves me and I go flying away into the night sky and wake up and go, ‘Wow’.

“I am 22 years-old and an extremely independent person. As far as my own personal relationships go, whether with boyfriends or friends or family, or with people I’ve never met, I trust my intuition.  It does sometimes present a challenge because I am really good at reading people. I feel like most conversation is just words but I will remember how I felt.

“The freedom of the flight of running with the horse, the feeling of that power between your legs, the muscles rippling — I mean if you’ve never run a horse bareback, you’re really missing out.

“A friend of mine said, ‘Tana “You don’t make plans, you have ideas.’

“I’m glad I didn’t grow up in some city staring at a picture of horse, going, Oh I wonder what that would be like.”


~ Dr. Merri Lisa Trigilio first documented the world around her with a Rolleiflex camera. She pursued an art degree in photography and film, ending up in Hollywood with Zoetrope Studios. Later, she completed a doctorate degree in Geosciences. Her experience ranges from working as a geophysicist for multinational oil companies to lead geologist at Montana State University modeling carbon sequestration. She then found her way back to documentary story telling on film. See www.mltrigilio.com.