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FREDERICKSBURG — Attending a rodeo in Burnet changed the lives of filmmaker Noessa Higa and rodeo clown Ronald Burton.

That rodeo convinced Higa that she had discovered a story worth sharing with others. And that story became her sports documentary, “Man in the Can,” which premieres at 2:30 p.m. May 1 at the Hill Country Film Festival in Fritztown Cinema, 2254 U.S. 87 South in Fredericksburg. Tickets for that event are $10 per person.

I am thrilled that the world premiere is at the Hill Country Film Festival because a lot of the film was shot in the Hill Country area, so the local community will be the first to see the film,” Higa said. “I am especially proud that the film has been nominated for Best Documentary at the festival.”

Higa, who has worked on Adam Sandler movies, including “Anger Management” and “Click,” said she was interested in cowboy culture and the jobs they do. While at a ranch rodeo, she met Burton. After joining him for dinner, she was convinced his story was one people would enjoy.

“I didn’t originally set out to make a documentary about a rodeo clown, but I was interested in learning more about rodeo culture after Burnet,” Higa said. “None of it was planned, it just happened.”

So for two-and-a-half years, Higa would fly from Los Angeles to follow Burton — who is originally from Philadelphia, Mississippi, but lived in Burleson for many years — on his quest to becoming a professional rodeo clown.

That journey took them to rodeo arenas across Texas, including the John L. Kuykendall Event Center in Llano, the Charley Taylor Arena in Marble Falls and the Burnet Rodeo Arena at the Burnet County Fairgrounds.

“Ronald was really open to the process of being filmed,” the director said. “It’s really about him as a person. It’s a documentary about someone who has a dream. That’s relatable to a lot of people. Even though I’m not a cowgirl, and I don’t go to rodeos, I can relate to dreams, too.”

The filmmaker had to set aside some discomfort to continue to shoot film.

“I’m actually allergic to horses,” she said with a smile. “I get really sick every time I go to rodeos.”

She reviewed hundreds of hours of film, transcribed notes that turned into 386 pages and narrowed it to a 38-minute sports documentary that will make its debut in Fredericksburg.

“It was not easy,” she said. “It was a one-woman production, which is very rare.”

Higa and Burton will attend the premiere, and the director said attendees might recognize the scenery and even some of the people.

“The Burnet rodeo and the community was so welcoming and so nice,” she said. “You could possibly have people who see themselves in the documentary. That’s pretty exciting, I would say.”

Go to for more about the film or for more about the festival.