The core of Ranchero, a fish-out-of-water tale, came from childhood memories of my cousin's ranch. My parents and I would celebrate most holidays at their cattle ranch in Herald, California, just outside of Sacramento. I was always excited to go because I idolized my big cousin Gary. He was four years older than me and just way cool. He would ride horses, shoot guns, and drive around on a three-wheel ATV. He was tough, and I wanted to be just like him. However, I was the city kid; scared of the cattle, wrong clothes, and terrible hay fever. Try as I would, I didn't quite fit in. With the character of Jesse, I kind of wanted to reverse those roles. Of course, times have changed, and the difference between country and urban living has lessened. When I went to the ranch as a kid, there wasn't another house for miles. When I was there to film Ranchero, there were three residential developments and a strip mall just down the road.
In Ranchero, I also wanted to address the theme of "the grass always being greener." That's not to say we shouldn't strive for our full potential. And sometimes, geography does matter. It's just that I believe our true potential lies in our character, our self-esteem, and our ethics, not in our vocation or zip code. I feel that's the realization Jesse comes to by the end of the piece. Tom represents the fact that anger, resentment and low self-worth will follow you wherever you go. The change needs to be internal, not external. With Lil' Bit, you have someone trapped by their circumstance. They understand the need to overcome and move on, but struggle with the courage to do so.
I feel extremely fortunate to have found such an excellent director and talented cast to bring these characters and story to life.
— Brian Eric Johnson