The ignorance of this is staggering, this is what he said “Let me tell you just a little something about the American Indian in our land. We have provided millions of acres of land for what are called preservations—or reservations, I should say. They, from the beginning, announced that they wanted to maintain their way of life, as they had always lived there in the desert and the plains and so forth. And we set up these reservations so they could, and have a Bureau of Indian Affairs to help take care of them. At the same time, we provide education for them—schools on the reservations. And they’re free also to leave the reservations and be American citizens among the rest of us, and many do. Some still prefer, however, that way—that early way of life. And we’ve done everything we can to meet their demands as to how they want to live. Maybe we made a mistake. Maybe we should not have humored them in that wanting to stay in that kind of primitive lifestyle. Maybe we should have said, no, come join us; be citizens along with the rest of us.”
One of the greatest people to grace this earth, Nelson Mandela is again ill and may not be around us for much longer. It’s brought up a lot of the emotions I feel for this man. When I was at school I would have to say the biggest issue I learnt there was the attosity of the then ongoing apartheid system in South Africa. It repulsed me to the core. No other global issue at that time caught my imagination as discrimination is certainly one of our most foolish (and tragically, often deadly traits).
I recall vividly the day Mandela was released from jail in part because I saw it when I stopped by to see my ex. gf (who was the first love of my life) and it is the last time I saw her. To imagine that day how quickly apartheid would be cast into the sewer of history that it belonged in would have seemed like an impossibility. To imagine after that that the oppressed majority would not seek considerable revenge for decades of abuse was also barely comprehensible.
Mandela made those things happen. But not just that, he did so as a humble man and with a grace and dignity that is incomparable to that of any other Statesman of the modern age. What a glorious slap in the face to those Apartheid white supremacist racists to think that the most loved and respected leader in the world would be theirs and he was black.
Unlike most leaders of change and revolution, once he served his term, he left. He was no egomaniac leader for life. Though ironically no one else could come close.
What he did with the rugby World Cup is also monumental and I’ve attached a clip below that wonderfully explains how he used it to bring both sides of the previous conflict together. This is what truly great people do. They don’t beat their enemies. They make them better humans.
I had an acquaintance from South Africa years ago who spoke about Mandela’s amazing presence when he visited a school she attended and the impact it had on her. When I knew her she studied and Oxford in the UK. A few years later I googled her and discovered she headed up an educational division of Mandela’s own foundation. Beautiful.
That era in South Africa also gave us the monumental Bishop Desmond Tutu who I was fortunate enough to be in the presence of years ago.
I have personally known some great civil rights leaders but what these two men had that others don’t is they could walk across the room to their enemies, give them the warmest of handshakes and literally watch the walls between them dissolve and thus create positive change. I can think of few historical figures who deserve to be taught with the same weight as lives such as these.
Few people make seismic change in the world and fewer make it positive change. What an inspiration.
As a mark of thanks while he is still with us and ill I posted the image attached below to my profile pic on facebook and twitter and hope others might do the same. Lovely to see some have followed suit. Please encourage others to do the same. It would be great to create a movement out of it to show how much he is appreciated and loved throughout the world. You can just right click on the image and then save image as to your computer then just upload it to your profile pic.
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
We’re getting close to shooting a movie adaptation of Kent Nerburn’s acclaimed novel Neither Wolf Nor Dog set throughout Lakota Country. It is a contemporary story and we’ve received an amazing amount of support and encouragement from Indian Country towards our making of this.
It is a profound contemporary story that has moved many readers since it came out in the mid 90’s. We’ll announce more in due course especially about the exciting cast that may have a few of your favorite actors from Indian Country in it.
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So far in Indian Country I’ve made the features Rez Bomb & A Thunder-Being Nation & TV series The Hub DVD’s they 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.
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.
Taken from the 48 minute long exclusive interview only available on the special edition of the DVD of the movie Rez Bomb set on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation starring Tamara Feldman, Trent Ford, Russell Means, Chris Robinson, Tokala Clifford, Moses Brings Plenty, Arlette Loud Hawk
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).
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).
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.
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).
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.
Thoughts about the new feature film from the films maker Steven Lewis Simpson