It’s been a bit of a surprise to me with all the various video trailers of my movies and documentaries as well as excerpts from my TV series The Hub with some big names in Indian Country that comfortably my most viewed video on Youtube is a little thing I knocked together for the hours of extra features I put on the Rez Bomb DVD (my Pine Ridge love story/thriller movie).
Basically it is a montage of images and footage from around Pine Ridge with my talking over it with some of the stats and background about it. It lasts only 5 mins or so. Currently it has been viewed over 40,000 times, more than double the trailers of Rez Bomb itself. Now I’m perfectly happy with the video as a little side note but on another level it saddens me that it gets most of the attention and not the trailer to my feature documentary about Pine Ridge, A Thunder-Being Nation that I made over 13 years. That trailer is artistically much more evolved but more importantly it is entirely in the words of people from Pine Ridge and not me. I’d much rather see that with the 40,000 views or the clip from an early cut of the doc about housing problems.
For all I know the reason this particular montage gets this traffic is just how youtube places it in results but I also suspect it’s down to how much it’s been shared. I’m not complaining as I am glad of the traffic for any of the work but all those years was put in to help the people of Pine Ridge’s voice be heard rather than my own through this thing I threw together in a few minutes.
Anyway the top rated clip is first followed by the trailers and other clips. Links to trailers to my other projects are in the menu above. our DVD’s are available at amazon or www.inyoentertainment.com where you can save 15% using the coupon code Blog15 to save 15% or Blog20 to save 20% when spending $60 or more. The closer we get to recovering our costs on our films the quicker we can start looking to invest more in other projects in Indian Country although it’s an uphill battle finding an audience (as discussed in my previous post).
Want to see more Native American films and TV shows? Well believe it or not you are the solution.
14 years ago I started filming a feature documentary in Indian Country, first because Russell Means asked me to film some political events but then because I had more and more people from all different sides of life on Pine Ridge wanting me to document what was going on there as well as their stories etc. Since then I’ve shot a movie, Rez Bomb, a feature documentary, A Thunder-Being Nation and a TV series, The Hub in Indian Country. In a big way it was because I was concerned that there was so little content being created out of Indian Country and so many people were telling me they wanted to see more.
A couple of weeks ago I released a DVD of The Hub, a 13 part TV series highlighting many of the most fabulous performers and artists in Indian Country. It is a highly entertaining show and I wanted people to be able to enjoy this celebration. Unfortunately in that time I have sold just 5 DVD’s in-spite of having a mailing list of people who had emailed saying they were interested in the DVD as well as being able to market it to 10,000 or so people on my own social networks related to my other Indian Country projects and being shared on others.
Ultimately the crux of the problem of why so few films come out of Indian Country is lack of audience support and participation. In The Hub we spoke with many of the great talents of Indian Country including film-makers like Chris Eyre, Steven Paul Judd, Ryan Red Corn of the 1491′s and the fabulous Georgina Lightning. They could be filming some of their own projects tomorrow if they knew there was a committed audience out there that would buy DVD’s or go see their work. Ryan’s words to us on the show “there’s not much money in making films in Indian Country” is very true.
One of the reasons for getting The Hub out so quickly was if there was a demand for it then it could cover the costs of us shooting a feature special at the end of the month at Gathering of Nations but we’ve had forget that as it looks like it’ll take a while for us just to recover the costs of getting the DVD’s made. For example V. Blackhawk Aamodt’s award winning documentary about the “Big Foot” ride, Ghost Riders is very interesting but so few people have pursued it on DVD it’s hard to obtain and if it had been well supported then he would have been able to go on and make project after project.
I am fortunate as because of other resources for other films I’ve managed to cash flow my six or seven years spent on all three of my Indian Country projects so far as they could never have been made otherwise and I’ve always made sure that we got them out on DVD into the heart of the communities they are set it. Rez Bomb and A Thunder-Being Nation are the only DVD’s being sold in numerous stores around Lakota Country because I physically went to them so that it was available to people who could not go online.
The local support helps somewhat but all us content creators need you all to pass on the word, to engage to let us know potential retailers etc. Bear in mind Hollywood spends tens of millions so you hear about their latest extravagaza whereas film-makers in Indian Country are typically broke before their projects are done. We know social media and strong support within communities can however create tipping points enough to make things happen.
The more people watch the 1491′s the more financial support they will get to make more or their amazing PSA’s for example as those dollars are all about how great is their reach.
Once the audience supports the content enough then very quickly you would be able to see a 1491′s movie or a Six Pack and Gas Money from Steven Paul Judd etc. as they would be able to cover the expense. We’d be able to make a second and third series of The Hub so people in Indian Country (particularly youth) can see and be inspired by the amazing things going on throughout their communities.
Ryan Red Corn summed it up. On Youtube Slapping Medicine Man is perceived to be a huge hit as they have almost half a million hits and yet if you search Native American in youtube there are videos getting five million hits which are cheesy flute music over a montage of stereotypical images hot natives.
What needs to happen to make the difference is for the audience to seek out the great work people are doing and let others who may be interested know about it to. It’s nice to get a pat of the back but production is going to dry up fast. But with a network of supporters helping get the word out then things can really start to build from there.
The Hub was designed to be a part of that as it was designed to be a show that brings a lot of these amazing creative individuals together and pulls the audience into the great work and hopefully build their followings which helps them get some other things off the ground.
I currently have our biggest project yet financed at the moment which is a movie adaptation of the highly acclaimed novel Neither Wolf Nor Dog. It hopefully will have a major impact on its audience but my fear is that after that I can’t justify doing any more projects in Indian Country as they take a long time to make and it’s hard when so few people are watching them.
There is great work out there and for my mind one masterpiece, Ryan Red Corn’s To The Indigeous Woman video which has only 35,000 or so hits on youtube between it’s versions (see clip below). It’s depressing that’s less than 0.1% of a cheesy flute music montage video. Lets change that.
So why is the quality content not getting the support? It is for all of you who want to see more content and films out of Indian Country to change that. Indian Country has so many amazing, dynamic, creative individuals that are ignored in the main stream entertainment world. We can break all those walls down but only if we all work together.
Thanks for listening
our DVD’s are available at amazon or www.inyoentertainment.com where you can save 15% using the coupon code Blog15 to save 15% or Blog20 to save 20% when spending $60 or more.
This is a guest list from our series The Hub presented by Martin Sensmeier, Shayna Jackson and Blake Sisk. Who wouldn’t want to watch this incredible group of individuals?
Chris Eyre Cheyenne/Arapaho
Steven Paul Judd Kiowa/Choctaw
Anthony Thosh Collins Pima/Osage
Adam Beach Anishinabe
Virgil Ortiz Cochiti
Shaunya Manus Navajo
Ryan Red Corn Osage
Cornel Tootoosis Cree
Edna Rain Cree
Ron Scott Metis
Michelle Thrush Cree
Larry Price Navajo
Chaske Spencer Lakota
Dey & Nite Arapaho
Darrell Dennis Shuswap
Nakotah LaRance Hopi/Tewa
Nicholas Galanin Tlingit/Aleut
Howie Miller Cree
Dakota House Cree
Ashley Callingbull Cree
Georgina Lightning Cree
Rayanna Zaragoza Pima
Steven LaRance Hopi
Helen Calahasen Dakota
Rulan Tangen Blackfoot
Lawrence Santiago Coushatta
Marisa Quinn Lipan Apache
Kevin Pourier Oglala Lakota
Shawn Imitates-Dog Oglala Lakota
Sho Sho Esquiro Kaska Dene/Cree
Zahn McClarnon Hunkpapa Lakota
Bethany Yellowtail Crow/Northern Cheyenne
Mary Ann Andreas Morongo Band of Cahuilla
If Martin Luther King had instigated a civil rights action that resulted in a 71 day siege with the US government Marshalls and agents employing armoured personnel carriers, airforce jets and up to 500,000 bullets fired would it not be at the forefront of the history of US Civil Rights? American Indian Movement leader Russell Means who died aged 72 recently instigated such a civil rights action in 1973 that resulted in the Wounded Knee Occupation. Sadly contemporary American Indian history is ignored. Perhaps Russell would be a more famous figure if he died for his cause like Malcolm X and Dr. King? Russell survived numerous attempts on his life as he was not an easy man to kill. I once had him point out his bullet wounds, stab wounds and shrapnel wounds. But then again American Indian Movement activists were routinely murdered and it never made a headline. How ironic that there is not even racial equality when looking at the actions of civil rights activists.
I first met Russell thirteen years ago. I’m a film director from Scotland and was documenting the repatriation of a sacred Ghost Shirt from a Scottish museum to Wounded Knee. Due to twists of fate within three hours of hitting Pine Ridge Indian Reservation I was at his home and he asked me to film three days of political meetings. Wow. Going in he was a hero of mine, Now, today as I grieve his loss he is a very dear friend. Twice I was by his side during unsuccessful Tribal Presidential Election Campaigns. He starred in a movie, Rez Bomb I made on his reservation and also featured in a feature documentary A Thunder-Being Nation about Pine Ridge that I made over 13 years. I once helped bail him out of jail, the next day he sat with me and watched my soccer team Manchester United end Arsenal’s Invincibles undefeated run. For three years I had the honor of being Fire Keeper at his families Sun Dance ceremony. I have never met such a force of nature.
Other than his activism he is known for his movie career, which started at the top in a lead role opposite Daniel Day Lewis in the epic Last of the Mohicans. In 1984 for a time he was Larry Flynt’s running mate for US President. Four years later Ron Paul defeated him to be the Libertarian Party’s Presidential Candidate. But it will be for his leadership of the American Indian Movement through it’s heyday and turbulent times in the 70′s that he will be best remembered for.
Like many of us he was complex and yet simple. From the simplicity came his strength: Seeing the injustice perpetrated against indigenous peoples, he fought for their freedom. He devoted his life to that. His knowledge was remarkable and unwaveringly tied to his world view. He had a temper. He was passionate. He was very very funny. His fight against cancer was monumental. It should have killed him long before it did if Western Medicine’s diagnosis was to be believed. But as strong as he was throughout this it was matched every step of the way by his remarkable wife Pearl. With all the lessons Russell learnt throughout his life his final lesson that was revealed as a result of the cancer I feel was the most powerful. That was the absolute love, commitment and devotion Pearl committed to him. That blew his mind.
Our relationship was based on three fundamentals; we enjoyed exercising each others brains, we could laugh together for hours and we loved each other. Not many people have the honour and joy of befriending one of the most extraordinary individuals of our age. Russell truly was that. I am eternally grateful for knowing Russell and his impact on my life has been seismic. Our last time together was a two day road-trip eight weeks before his passing. I can’t imagine this world without him.
When we weren’t together we communicated via email through Pearl. One day he rang, which he never did. It was to tease me because my Manchester United were kicked out of the Carling Cup by relative minnows. That summed Russell up to me.
The morning of his death he appeared to me in the most beautiful of dreams and as I awoke I knew he was gone but that all was spectacularly well with him. That he was soaring. He told me once that he was going to come back to earth as lightening and strike the White House. Knowing Russell, I wouldn’t bet against it. They better invest in a bigger lightening rod.
It was 12 years ago when a Ghost Shirt reputedly taken from the Wounded Knee massacre was being repatriated from a museum in Scotland when I first found myself entering Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Within the first three hours I’d hung out with a local guy at Wounded Knee, visited Camp Justice (just weeks after the infamous murders it was set up in response to) and found myself at legendary activist Russell Means’s house. He then asked me to film three days of political meetings going on there. It is safe to say that I was sucked straight in to life on that more unique of places.
From there as my camera started to record various events and interviews I started to realize that a bigger project was beginning to unfold. People I met and became friends with wanted me to document more and more. I was there for key events like the Red Cloud building occupation and various elections etc.
Also I expanded my creative engagement there by deciding to relocate a movie of mine there, which became the love story/thriller Rez Bomb.
Anyway after years shooting and editing the doc is more or less complete and will be out soon. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with thunder in the subject line.
March 2nd, 2012 | Category: Pine Ridge | Comments are closed
I remember when Wimbledon a few years ago announced that the small gap between men and women’s prize money had been closed and they would get the same and that would thus make it equal. Seems crazy to me since it’s not equal work. 3 sets versus 5. Why not both 5? Because you end up in the crazy situation where in the Australian open the women’s final takes 1 hr 22 mins and the men’s almost 6. Now of course this was longer than usual but there is always going to be a big difference so men are getting paid a fraction for their time. And time is money here. TV money and sponsorship which is all about screen time. So lets make it equal and make it 5 sets for women to.