All posts by steve

EXPLOITING AMERICAN INDIANS IN FILM?

Hi I just got this interesting comment to a posting that I felt I wanted to share the reply with you all to dispell a regular misconception about film production in Indian Country. The comment was:
“Are any of the royalities going to the Pine Ridge Rez? Or are they going to get took like they did with Dances with wolves, getting paid chump change; $200.00 a person to appear while the movie made millions with more Chump Change in royalities! These people need to be treated with respect, and treated like human beings! They need money to feed and clothe themselves! They went for months with no heat in the middle of winter and nobody helped! They were caught up with the Federal Goverment’s crap and got no help from them. When will this change?”

And I replied as follows:
You know I agree with your passion an sentiment about people ignoring the plight of Pine Ridge and the poverty but overall your question angered me for a very simple reason and that is It cost me personally many thousands of dollars to make the film on Pine Ridge. It was originally meant to be shot in Britain but I personally chose to shoot it on Pine Ridge because I wanted to bring economic development. In a film sense it was not practical as there are not experienced actors or crew there but my commitment to Pine Ridge brought it there. I’ve spent three years of my life on it and may never see my investment back and certainly not enough to justify my time.

Skins spent vastly more about $4 million and a reasonable amount in the area and most of that was lost. Imprint will likely lose money though not so much was shot there. Thunderheart may have broken even but only after millions were put at risk. As with Dances with Wolves, tens of millions were put at risk in a film no-one in Hollywood would invest in, the money came from England, yes it was very successful but it extras were on $200 a day then that’s a good wage for a day on that job. Films never share profits with people that were extras, it would never and could never work. Too expensive to administer etc so if the film is bringing in vast $’s into the local communities through production and since 95% of films loose money and never have royalties to pay out then why should they be obligated unlike any other business to pay those that worked on the films twice?

The other problem is that if you want a different recoupment structure for films in Indian country then investors and studios will find yet another pathetic excuse not to set films in those areas. With Rez Bomb I only took in three actors and three crew and hired everyone else locally and that is different to any other comparable reservation movie. Everyone was paid equally whether one of my very experienced stars from Hollywood or someone doing a day role from Pine Ridge who had never acted a day in their lives. They actually made more as no agents fees, SAG fees, or taxes will be taken off.

Also with Rez Bomb I did something unique which was to tell a truly universal story on a reservation not a culturally specific one that could only be set there. I want to expend beyond just the culturally specific, to break down the cultural apartheid in film and change the way people look at the possibilities of storytelling. See my other blogs on Cultural Apartheid and also my Q&A with Russell Means where he spoke of his pride in being in a universal story set on a reservation where he plays a person not a stereotype.

We are trying to fight double standards when it comes to race and culture and it would be a double standard to treat the actors in my film of one color,culture,race different than another.

But as I said at the top of the message I appreciate your passion and concern for justice for those on the reservation. I’ve also spent part of the last 10 years creating an epic feature documentary about Pine Ridge, financed by myself (and I don’t have the money to spare) and I will never break even on it.

Sensational viewer review of Rez Bomb posted on amazon.co.uk (also onsale at amazon.com)

Here’s a sensational viewer review posted on the Rez Bomb page on Amazon.co.uk (the UK site)

5.0 out of 5 stars A red and white Ulysses as much as Romeo and Juliet, 14 Sep 2009
By M. Benis

Rez Bomb is a great independent film worthy of widespread attention. Billed as a Romeo and Juliet, it’s actually about two youths on a journey not to find but to re-find each other in a world that has lost love and its soul. It’s a kind of modern Odyssey that looks at the voyage from both the man and the woman’s point of view. This and the sense of a broken world also breaks time in some ways and so the scenes do not follow a strict chronology. Some may initially find this confusing, though they are helped by subtle shifts in colour that cue you into which stage of the story you are watching.

It’s not a reservation film or an Indian film, though people with an interest in either won’t be disappointed. The original (and significantly inferior) screenplay was in fact set in the tenements of Glasgow, so even at the outset this film which has been a decade in the making was interested in the lost and dispossessed. But the theme of genocide and loss which could equally have been explored in the Scots version surfaces subtly yet with greater vigour here with the Lakotah, partly because of the physical isolation of the reservation and partly because race constantly seems to inspire greater crass prejudice than class alone, not to mention the fact that – against all odds – the Lakotah spirit has survived. If that makes it sound as if the film will be preachy, don’t worry it: isn’t. It has an altogether wider and much more deeply human vision for that.

The performances are consistently excellent from professional and amateur members of the cast alike, making for compelling viewing throughout.

Highly recommended.

This DVD is outstanding value for money, with same great documentary footage and interviews of the high plains folk, both red and white, and how their life is changing. In addition there’s a great interview with American Indian Movement activist and Republic of Lakotah spokesperson Russell Means, who also apears in the film. For those interested in the Lakotah, the DVD is worth it for this alone.

If you’ve read this far, just get it!

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).

My most popular blog of 2009 DUMBASS COMMENTS FROM JAMIE FOXX V’S THE BRILLIANCE OF CHRIS ROCK

You know Jamie Foxx’s statement the other night about Michael Jackson “We want to celebrate this black man. He belongs to us, and we shared him with everyone else.” really pissed me off because of its absolute stupidity. The Beatles belonged to the white British but they decided to share them with the world would be an equally dumb statement.

Isn’t it about time we all got passed being so color centric? Then Al Sharpton opens his mouth about how Michael Jackson paved the way for other black Americans like Oprah, Obama and Tiger Woods. Well for starters Tiger Woods is 25% of African origin (not that it matters) and is 50% Asian. So technically he is more Asian American than African so did Bruce Lee (who was born in the USA by the way) pave the way for Tiger Woods? Of course not. Every which way it is a dumb statement.

Not that people haven’t been pathfinders and broken down racial barriers like Bruce Lee who broke down a huge racial barrier for Asians in Hollywood. Muhammad Ali redefined the barriers globally too. And the African American community laying claim to Obama is an odd one to since he is so clearly a remarkable individual creation of an African father and white mother and brought up by a white family and in part an Indonesian step father. The majority of his upbringing was far removed from an African Amercian cultural experience. Not that it should matter.

The irony is that Obama’s father was African and not African American and if in America today he would probably find that the shit he would get in the US today would be from African Americans and not any other race. It is not something you ever hear discussed but I have regularly heard from African friends and my sensational ex. gf. who is African that the only people they ever get racially hassled by is African Americans. Apparently it is always black cops pulling over wealthy Africans in Washington DC for example. I have a friend living in LA who is black and from Manchester, England who told me the only people she gets attitude from are African Americans who react like “who do you think you are?” because she has an English accent like she is some sell out phoney.

It seems sad and absurd that communities are so trying to appropriate individuals and define them by their skin color. If I had a child with my last love then that child would have been as black as Obama and twice that of Tiger Woods. Not that it should ever matter. I wouldn’t want that child to be appropriated by the white community the black community the Scottish community the Ethiopian community or whatever country the child was born in. I’d want to word to look at that child as a human being like the rest of us. A human like Michael Jackson, or Bruce Lee or Ali or Crazy Horse or John Lennon or whoever.

Jamie Foxx’s comment pissed me off because it was plain dumb and the majority of people hearing it know it. I watched Chris Rock in a televised concert last night and his brilliance and enlightenment is light years ahead in evolution than that of Foxx. It feels like there are so many commentators on society these days (and even I am pitching in now) and yet so few have the extraordinary way or breaking down their absurdities they way that Chris Rock does. That man just gets it and it goes so far beyond humor. Though it is interesting how Jamie Foxx makes a dumb comment and its on the news for analysis and yet Chris Rock reels off endless provocative insights into a dozen hot button issues of the day and nobody brings it up in the media. Intelligent discussion in beyond the realm of the media but sensationalism is its bread and butter.

Oh and Chris Rock is about the only one who puts things in perspective by talking about the fact that in the pecking order about the racial shit people go through that the American Indian gets the worst deal.

Do yourself a favour and go onto youtube for a bit and hopefully there’s a lot of Chris Rock’s routines there

“I dont think I’ve enjoyed a film this much since The Dark Knight” fabulous blog review of Rez Bomb

Here’s a great fan blog on Rez Bomb at http://noimkara.blogspot.com/2009/09/rez-bomb-review.html

Rez Bomb Review
Monday, September 28, 2009

Ahh so this was meant to be posted a few days ago but I never got round to writing it. Anyway. Last week I ordered the film “Rez Bomb” off ebay (special edition), I’m kinda gutted that this film wasnt released in theaters because a film this good should be given a lot of credit. Rez Bomb is completely out of my comfort zone when it comes to films but I decided to give it a try as Trent Ford *swoon* stars in it. Boy am I glad I checked it out. Rez Bomb is a love story you can totally get lost in. Set in one of the poorest places in the US, the story tells the tale of Harmony (Tarmara Feldman) and her boyfriend Scott (Trent Ford) who are very much in love but get caught up in a world of trouble when Harmony owes a large amount of money to a dirty old dude called Jaws (Jaws?!!). In attempt to get Harmony off the rez they conduct a plan to get them “set up” only things dont go to plan. The film is a whirlwind of love, thrills and dark comedy and tells us of love thats on the run. Trust me I was on the edge of my seat when Scott goes in search for Harmony. I dont think I’ve been caught up in a film as much as I was with Rez Bomb. At first, when hearing about it, I was a little sceptical to buy it having not much to go on. But my love for Trent Ford took over and I found the DVD in my mail three days later. Rez Bomb is not what I expected. When I saw the trailer I thought it’d be all guns and shooting etc… buts its not. Its a film you cant fully understand until watching it in its entirety. Its ridiculously realistic in a way I didnt think any film could achieve and is just plain, darn, fantastic. I dont think I’ve enjoyed a film this much since The Dark Knight. I gave it a 8 out 10 on IMdb, just because I got confused some of the time – but maybe thats due to my blonde roots? Who knows. Anyway the story is compelling and hooks you straight away, Trent Ford looks totally hot with a capital H and is a gritty and realistic thrill ride. I just wish it was longer.
Want to escape reality? Watch Rez Bomb.

# A little shorter than I hoped but then I am meant to be studying. You just need to know Rez Bomb defines awesome.
That is all.

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

48 minute long never before seen interview with Russell Means

There is a never before seen interview that I conducted with Russell Means that makes up part of the 3 hours and 45 mins worth of extra features on the Rez Bomb DVD. The inverview was conducted at Russell’s home on Pine Ridge a few years back and he discusses the origins of his people up to more modern events. What is interesting is that he talks about many other things than the contemporary political, social issues he talks of in his many broadcasts these days and so it is a very interesting new insight into this unique, compelling man who I am fortunate enough to call a good friend.

The list of other extra features at on the DVD pages here.

Do you know of any good American Indian gift stores/retailers and reservation stores?

We are looking to expand the list of retailers carrying Rez Bomb as it has been selling very well through a number of specialist American Indian stores and stores on reservations including video rental stores. The more targeted our marketing has been within these communities the stronger the sales and feedback has been.

So we’d appreciate anyone recommending such stores and retailers to us so we can contact them to see if they’d be interested in carrying the title. It doesn’t have to be somewhere that is already selling DVD’s as some of our best retailers have been reservation stores that we’re the only title they sell. Also gift shops in reservation casino’s also interest us. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. The same goes for any online stores you can think of.

The film has sold the most on Pine Ridge itself and is on sale and Lil Angels, Bob’s video and the OLC all in Kyle as well as the Procupine Trading post and the Heritage center shop at Red Cloud school. This is adding to Big Bats where we’ve sold a bundle, and a video store in Martin as well as the Antlers in Rushville, Mr Movies in Chadron and Prairie Edge in Rapid.

just back from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

I’ve just spent a fabulous 2 weeks in South Dakota with the second part spent mostly with my friends on Pine Ridge and this was my first trip back since Rez Bomb has become available on DVD on the reservation and I was taken by surprise about how well it has been doing there. For those of you that have followed my blogs you may recall that back in the summer I did a series of screenings of the movie on Pine Ridge and that they had been really poorly attended as it was difficult to get people into the idea of seeing a movie on the big screen at a fixed place and time. But since then the film started selling on the reservation and it sold really well. So when I was wandering around this time I’d have a few people calling out “hey aren’t you the Rez Bomb guy?” and many were telling me how they loved the movie.

I bumped into a couple of guys who were drinking in their truck one morning and I noticed a copy of the movie sitting on their dash. In a bar in Rushville, just off the Rez a local white girl told me she’d seen it around two dozen times and loved it. There had also been a letter to the editor of the Lakota Country Times complaining that people were incessantly borrowing their copy. It is so gratifying that the film has been such a hit there as it is so important to me that those in the community are happy with the film.

So just before I left I made sure I lined up more retailers around the reservation so now it is also on sale and Lil Angels, Bob’s video and the OLC all in Kyle as well as the Procupine Trading post and the Heritage center shop at Red Cloud school. This is adding to Big Bats where we’ve sold a bundle, and a video store in Martin as well as the Antlers in Rushville, Mr Movies in Chadron and Prairie Edge in Rapid. Some others shall follow. At this rate Rez Bomb will soon be the most owned title on Pine Ridge which makes me very happy indeed as entertaining the community there was a big part of my motivation for filming it there.

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation residents letter about Rez Bomb

This is a wonderful letter written from a resident of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to the Lakota Country Times about Rez Bomb. It put a big smile on my face.

Dear Editor:

Hello,

I am writing this letter in regards to the movie Rez Bomb. We bought the movie in Manderson. We watched it and we can’t stop watching it. The movie is extraordinary; I’d like to commend whoever thought of making the movie. We’re the only ones who won the movie in town, we lent it out and can’t get it back everyone wants to borrow it when we barely get it back, than they all tell us they can’t quit watching it. How can I get a hold of someone who has the movies? I have a lot of people who want to own the movie.

The ending was good, just wished we know what happened with them and their baby? Need more movies let me know where we can get some? Everyday I think of the movie it has touched me in a way that can’t be explained. I will always remember the movie Rez Bomb.

Pila Miye Will Killz Enemy

http://www.lakotacountrytimes.com/news/2009/0804/voices/018.html