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by Karen Pecota

Alex Nevill, United States 2022

Ferroequinology is a long, strange looking word we rarely use, but the literal meaning is the study of iron horses, also known as the study of railways, especially locomotives. Documentary filmmaker Alex Nevill attempts to open up the eyes of his viewing audience to the passion and artistry of railroad photography in FERROEQUINOLOGY.

Nevill features two famous photographers, Andrew Cross and McNair Evans, who are obsessed with photographing locomotive bodies and their activity. They are often looked upon by others as train nerds, and you might agree while viewing Nevill's feature documentary FERROEQUINOLOGY.

These two professionals are not bothered by how others describe them because they share an excitement and passion for the black and white still photography to emphasize in detail what makes locomotive travel and its history attractive. Their enthusiasm to document the finer points of train travel across America using the vast landscapes as their backdrop is nothing shy of exquisite.

Many questions arise in one's mind as to the past, the present, and the future from Nevill's narrative as he shares, "Railroad documentaries hold a significant place in the film history—it's the movement, machinery, infrastructure and culture surrounding railroads that has fascinated filmmakers since the birth of cinema." Adding, "Working with film editor Nick Gibbon, we wanted to evoke the feeling of taking a breath or slowing down which is central to both character's photographs as they explore the qualities of a landscape or a shared long-distance journey. This fed into a meditative pace and an emphasis on moments of reflection through the film."

One need not be in a hurry while watching Nevill's documentary in order to appreciate the photographers’ expertise and unique storytelling. The viewing audience will experience Cross chasing freight trains through the Black Rock Desert in Nevada to capture that perfect shot of a known American landscape. Evans travels on an Amtrak train from San Francisco to Portland sharing stories and capturing portraits of fellow passengers. On their journeys, Cross and Evans delight in showcasing vintage artifacts left behind from a time when slow travel on the locomotive was normal and appreciated and life's surroundings did not know nor honor a fast-paced society, as we know it today.