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On Location: CRKT and Saddlemaker Ben Geisler

By: Tom Lehmann

December 12th, 2023
Ben Geisler standing at a fence, looking at the camera with a saddle on the fence and an out of focus horse in the foreground.

There’s something incredible happening inside a small workshop in an otherwise unremarkable neighborhood in Enterprise, Alabama. This is the workplace of Ben Geisler, one of a small number of craftspeople in the world still making traditional Western leather saddles by hand. Together with our production partners, the Mighty Creature Company and Abby Junes Productions, we met up with Ben to tell his story for CRKT.

What does a knife company have to do with saddlemaking? Sure, you can’t make a saddle without a knife, but it’s more than that. It’s about CRKT’s celebration of craft, and Ben’s work perfectly exemplifies the brand’s Confidence in Hand anthem.

BTS photo of Ben Geisler leather working in his workshop.
BTS photo of Ben Geisler posing with a horse on a farm in Alabama.
BTS photo of the crew on the Ben Geisler video shoot playing darts at a bar.
BTS photo of Ben Geisler being interviewed in his workshop.

Day 1

The crew met at Ben’s shop to set up for the main interview. Ben’s story is a winding one. Although it starts and ends in the world of horsemanship, the middle is filled with anything but, including two years in China and a stint in the Army. His experience has granted him a unique perspective and his insights are illuminating. To do this video justice, we knew we couldn’t rush the interview. (And as was no surprise, both the video and accompanying blog article ended up being our longest yet in the series).

After the interview, we spent several hours capturing B-roll footage inside the shop and followed Ben through the various stages of the saddlemaking process. The work of a saddlemaker is intriguing to watch no matter your level of interest in the final product. The equipment used, from hundred-year-old sewing machines to modern power tools, provide a unique backdrop, and the sounds of leather stretching and being cut create a satisfying soundtrack.

"Working with Devise was an absolute pleasure. They captured the tone perfectly and I felt that they presented my work authentically—for what it really is. I've never worked with anyone that got it so right."

~ Ben Geisler

Day 2

Up well before sunrise, we drove out to the town of Opp to meet Ben at our second location, a ranch owned by a friend of his. Here, as the sun slowly crested the treeline, we got to see the fruits of Ben’s labor in action: a completed saddle, cinched to a horse, doing what it was built to do. The footage captured here would add the final ingredient to our recipe and give us the shots we needed to punctuate key emotional moments in the interview.

That night, after a short pickup shoot back at Ben’s shop, we celebrated with a lowkey wrap party at a local watering hole. No matter how long the days, these productions always go by in a blur. We’re always thankful when we can find a moment to reflect and relax over cheap drinks and a game of darts.

Ben Geisler saddle making in his workshop.

Confidence in Hand: Ben Geisler

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