The Amazing Lily-Movie Star Mule

Independent low budget films are slowly becoming the future of entertainment. With more and more new technology constantly being released, and easy access to online distribution, it's become easier and more affordable than ever for just about anyone to be a filmmaker. But as always, producing a film costs time and money, and the less money you have, the more time you must spend. So there's a lot of rules most independent film producers try to follow while making a feature film to help save resources. DON'T do period pieces. DON'T shoot at night. DON'T shoot with kids. DON'T shoot with animals. One local production team said, "Challenge Accepted!" And set out to break every rule in the book.

Motion Dog Films, a small local independent film company, has been making some major waves over the last few years. Currently in production on their latest feature film, they have been working hard to find locations, crew, and an amazing cast all right here in our area.

She truly is movie star material.

After casting two local middle school girls, Abigail and Bella Stelling, in supporting roles for The Spring, Motion Dog Films set out to find their animal co-stars. The big scene called for a horse and a mule. And while well trained horses aren't too hard to find in these parts, locating a trained and cooperative mule proved to be quite difficult indeed. With the help of the City of Perryville and the wonderful community in the surrounding area, Motion Dog found exactly what they'd been looking for...a mule with star quality!

Meet Lily the Mule

Lily, a beautiful white molly mule, is the newest cast member in an independent feature film being shot in Perryville, Missouri by local independent film company Motion Dog Films. With the help of her trainers, Varina Luttrell and Krystal Evans, Lily worked hard to prepare for and deliver the performance of a lifetime. She truly is movie star material. But that's not the only new job she has...

Multiple full dress rehearsals were had and countless hours at the barn was spent to teach Lily how to stay and be stubborn after years of learning to go with the most subtle commands.

When the Motion Dog producers connected with Lily's new owners, they discovered that she has a very important job already. She is in fact a therapist...of sorts.

Equine assisted therapy, or riding therapy, uses the activity of riding and bonding with equestrian friends (horses, ponies, mules, etc…) to help treat and/or manage different mental and physical disabilities. This therapeutic activity has improved the lives of countless people since it was popularized less than a decade ago. It’s becoming so widely used across the country that new places are popping up all the time. In fact there's multiple right here in the 573 area. Today we took a trip out to Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horsemanship, to find out more about Lily and riding therapy, and ended up falling in love along the way.

Upon meeting Lily, there’s an instant connection. She exudes love, patience, and a gentle nature. Adoring being adored, Lily relishes in the attention given to her. She often will move in closer to you as you pet her soft muzzle or scratch around her ears or shoulders. This was how we discovered her extremely fitting birthmark on her right side during our visit. A faint pink heart graces Lily’s shoulder. Between this and her kind nature, she has earned the nickname Lily the Lovey.

Lily the Lovey wears her heart on her sleeve! -Varina

We spoke to some of Lily’s new care-takers and handlers to find out more about Lily, the MVTH organization, and their involvement in the production of the feature film, The Spring.

The Teacher - Krystal

Lessons instructor, homeschooling mom, and official horse handler on the set of the feature film, The Spring, Krystal joined production back in February when her horse, Drew, was offered a role in the film. After hearing about Motion Dog's need for a mule as well, Krystal introduced the producers to Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horsemanship and her pal Varina, the new care-taker of Lily the Lovey.

573: Tell us about yourself.

My name is Krystal Evans. I’m married with two children, Dillion 13 and Derrick 11. I’ve been on horses all my life. I never dreamed I would be an instructor, much less a therapeutic riding instructor. I’ve been working with horses as a profession for darn near 20 years.