I took away many things from Minneapolis this past September. Firstly, I really enjoyed being there with my partner in this film together. not only did we tackle some some issues and hurdles with our current cut from twenty thousand feet over Colorado, we had each other to springboard points and issues that emerged during the workshop. We were touched that NAPT was happy to have us both there and I think my partner Christian especially was able to offer some technical insights to the group too. Speaking of the group, such as was in Santa Fe last August, it was the network that you become engrained, intertwined and bonded with by the end of the weekend that is of great importance. Although it sounds silly, being in Los Angeles can be isolating for this native film world and to make acquaintances, friends, confidants And possibly future collaborators is important. I learned just as much of the process of producing a film in certain ways sitting around the lobby firepit at the end of the night with the group as I did during the workshop. This interaction, relation-building and expanding of my film-making community was a great outcome. That is not too say I didn't learn anything during the workshop, on the contrary it did clarify some aspects of the process of a PBS grant. There was some healthy information mon social networking for your film and the various new outlets for thAt as well as the fact that NAPT is eAger to share and promote your film-related posts. some of the information that was brought up during the day I had already read on my contract as well as the producers handbook though people's questions helped elaborate on some of those things further. All of the presentations were great, especially Blu introducing me to the world of "Prezzi". One critique that seemed to be shared throughout the group was that the presentations could for been condensed a touch, perhaps up until lunch break. The second half of the day could expand on the 2 examples of film projects we sAw followed by a q&a. I think if everyone was able to show a 5 minute clip of their project and have a group discourse following it would be really helpful, as getting feedback from peers never hurts in the long run even if its bad. I think that would of rounded out the day perfectly after having a morning full of projected information from team leaders followed by a round table discussion on what people love or don't care for of everybody's work. it's rare together a room full of native film makers and producers in the room together so why waste that opportunity.?
Overall I thought the weekend was a good one, good food, good people, good projects, etc. speaking of food, in hindsight I personally would off liked that opening dinner party to instead come at the end, once everybody has already Bonded. Maybe we can mooch off an opening event like the Walker Art Centers as the kickoff meet and Greet and save the expensive dinner gathering for once we all have Minneapolis workshop battle scars together.
Submitted by princella15 on September 26, 2012 - 3:15pm
In September of 2012, I was received the opportunity to attend the NAPT Producer Workshop as well as the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC) conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I drove up from Lincoln, Nebraska with the NAPT staff to the downtown Hyatt Regency Hotel. The hotel, evocative of Stanley Kubrick films, hosted both the Producers Workshop and NAMAC Conference. To my joy and delight, my film “Native Daughters: The Road Home” was selected to showcase in the NAMAC Documentary Screenings.
During the Producers Workshop, the NAPT staff presented vital information on how to get your film through the public media system to eventual broadcast on television. I learned as an independent producer, you really have to be organized and plan strategically in all aspect of your film; from how do you want your film to “feel”, to best practice marketing strategies, to educational and community outreach. How can the average viewer use your film? What precisely do I want my film to do once I cut off the proverbial umbilical cord and let it wonder off in the world on it’s own two feet?
I met some very talented, creative, hard-working and passionate filmmakers working in Indian Country and tried to mingle with everyone that I could. Intimate conversations ranging from experience at Sundance’s writing lab, to the Canon 5D video quality, then relating to other Native women and how they are balancing life, family, and work responsibilities. It’s good to know you’re not alone after all. After screening my film in the NAMAC showcase, I was able to answer questions and discuss the film with fellow filmmakers, which was wonderful. I think for filmmakers or artistic people in general, seeing how your work can effect another human being in a positive way is extremely fulfilling.
A puddle where a moth can shake the sky. The NAMAC conference had wonderful speakers and insights which was a great follow up from the producer’s workshop. I attended sessions like Teaching (and learning) Media in the Arts, Journalism’s New Directions and Open Space Documentaries: all refreshing and thought provoking. I learned that it’s good practice to let the children make their zombie movies when trying to work with them in video production. I found out what comic journalism is (http://3bute.com/) and how they open the door to interaction with the readers. I learned “hacker spaces” for the truly geeky. Then how the documentary model of “pushing out” information to the mass public can be switched around to “pulling in” sharing information around a film’s issues. I discovered that I love the idea of collaborating with other professionals in the arts field and how experimentation is good practice. An example that comes to mind was Kaneko’s Portals performance in Omaha, Nebraska (See video below).
The whole experience at the workshop and conference being able to both screen and discuss my film, meeting Native filmmakers from across the country and attending the NAMAC sessions opened my mind and eyes once more to possibilities that are out there. And my, what a world of possibilities there are…
Minneapolis - What an amazing city with an incredible amount of culture and arts. I had a brilliant time filled with exploration, excitement and discovery. My experiences in this great city affected me on both a personal and professional level. In retrospect, the core and foundation of my entire belief system was hit with a massive wallop.
I will never be the same - If you read a little further, I'll be more than happy to explain my journey.
Earlier this year, I was both honored and thrilled that Georgiana Lee, (Navajo), the Assistant Director of NAPT, invited me to an incredibly informative NAPT Producer Workshop. I was humbled to be among such a group of amazing media professionals that met during the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC) Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
I chose to drive - Arriving a day early
I am not a flying type - so I gladly opted to drive the 22 hour, 1,400 one way trip. After 5 states and only one 7 hour stop - I arrived in Minneapolis to gorgeous weather and beautiful cityscapes. With my eyes to the sky, I saw the Minneapolis Hyatt - the place holding the NAMAC conference. Now, I have stayed in hotels all over the country, but this place was HUGE!
After checking into my hotel room with my beautiful wife Delores and our little chihuahua Sophia, my wife decided to relax - While I decided to explore.
In general, when I travel, I feel an overwhelming excitement and thrill to say hello to new people while looking at new places for the very first time. I am ever still excited, suprised and grateful for all the places my journies take me in my career in the media world.
My first exploration of Minneapolis - first two feet, then two wheels
To make things even better, the Hyatt staff was great, I ask everyone I meet a ton of questions and they all answered my thirst for knowledge. My first quest was the nearest place for healthy stuff!
I am obsessed with organic food and the hotel staff told me about a great market just a few miles away - Feeling energetic I decided to walk to see what was near me, to which I quickly discovered museums, parks, cool small stores and green bikes. Yes, green bikes... So often I am traveling and still never discard my tie, vest and slacks to keep up my professional appearance:
But in this one case - I had on shorts, a t-shirt and tennis shoes - when I saw the bikes, with a huge smile on my face, I decided to give it a shot. It was my first great decision of the trip!! The hotel staff was even nice enough to take my picture - Thanks folks!
Did I also mention there were quite a few hills in Minneapolis? Uphill was ok - because these bikes had multiple gears ... but downhill was even better!What a sensation to be in a big city for the very first time - traffic is buzzing all around you - and a breeze is blowing into your face as you rush downhill - exciting if admittedly a bit fun and nervewracking! I was so glad I brought my camera with me.Here are a few photgraphic shots I was able to get - it didn't matter I was lost for a short time:
Back at the Hotel
Arriving back at the hotel, I had a feast! As the past 22 hours on the highways began to catch up with me, I decided to get some rest - but I was still a bit apprehensive to meet a new group of people. I slept restlessly waiting for the next day.
After sleeping in for the first time in a week - I eventually embarked to meet the rest of the folks that evening for an introductory dinner at a local restaurant. Within minutes of meeting everyone, to include a kind greeting from Georgiana - I realized I was among friends. Our evening at the restaurant was filled with great conversation, laughter and sharing stories. we also explored just a small bit of Minneapolis.
After returning to my room and telling my wife about the fantastic group of people I had met, I began surveying all of my materials for the NAPT Producers workshop that was being held on Thursday. Again impressed with the wealth of information I was to receive - I went to sleep thinking about the day ahead.
The NAPT producer workshop opened by eyes in more ways than one. We’ve been working onBridge the Gap to Pine Ridge for almost two years now. The film started as a web series, then it blossomed into a 1 hour program for potential distribution on PBS Plus. Now we have been given a green light for distribution on the National Programming Schedule. Once I received word that we would be broadcast on the NPS, I sort of figured we would not need to do any promotion on our side of the equation. The NAPT workshop helped me realize how wrong I was, and opened my eyes to what is possible.
First and foremost, publicity is the responsibility of the producer. The NPS time slot will help with coverage on a national scale, but doesn’t have too much to do with how many people will tune in to the actual program. The 30 second teaser does impact viewership, but there are many more ways a producer can promote his or her film. NAPT helped me to realize the importance of creating publicity in magazines, on like minded blogs, through film critics, on social media, and maybe even on local TV stations. Most importantly, this workshop taught me that it’s crucial to give at least 3 months notice to publicity outlets. I thought we could reach out to marketing avenues a few weeks before our premiere date, now I know that is not a smart thing to do at all.
The second truly valuable portion of the conference for me was with NAMAC. I attended several sessions, but the most valuable was the Grantmaking Speed dating session. Many grantmakers have strict guidelines of when they accept proposals, and most have turnaround times of up to one year before the film is funded. This is a real disappointment for me, and one that was shared by some of the funders. The representative from NEA stated how she felt it’s crucial for foundations to have a faster turnaround time in order to fund truly innovative projects. If turnaround times are too slow, the idea might be taken by another entity, or might never be executed.
I have the possibility of having a limited series of Bridge the Gap on PBS. In order to do this I’ve got to raise over $500,000. Surprisingly, I learned at this conference that there are not many funders who can award that type of money, even with the time slot being provided by PBS. This event has once again shown me that the Television world moves slower than I’ve anticipated. Although I am confident that I will be able to raise the money to film this program before the end of 2013.
Here are the specific and most valuable takeaways for me during the conference:
Allow 3 months for publicity on any PBS film
Do not expect the time slot or carrier to do the work for you
Explore multiple avenues such as print, TV, radio, blogs, and social media for promotion
It’s crucial to get educational content on PBS Learning Media
Make sure to be honest as a filmmaker, especially as a non-native. Because natives know the truth about whatever story is at hand. If you don’t know something, or you mess up, ask for forgiveness, and be up front.
Always Network! I met some great contacts from the Sundance Institute, Public Enemy artist Hank Shocklee, and representatives from various foundations including NEA.
I was recently invited to attend the NAPT Producer Workshop in Minneapolis that was hosted as well by the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC).
I traveled from Santa Fe, NM with part of my film making team, Blackhorse Lowe. We arrived into the downtown city in the evening and attended a wonderful and festive Dinner Hosted by NAPT. At the restauraunt, not only did we dine on fabulous food, but we had an opportunity to meet some of the other film makers from across the country as well as various key people from NAPT.
The next morning we all attended the one day workshop at the hotel. The film makers had a chance to each introduce themselves and talk a little about their project. It was intersting to hear of the diverse, unique and creative projects across the board.
The presentation was interesting and informative. I learned so much about NAPT that I did not know. It was helpful to have each of the presenters covering a different area of interest. Some of the things that were covered included Standard operational procedures of NAPT as well as production, broadcast and marketing initiatives. Job and training opportunities as well as funding opportunities and educational components.
ITVS was also brought in via skype to give an informative presentation including a question and answer segment at the end. Adrian Baker and Billy Luther, both film makers, showed clips of their films and talked about the process of film making and their experiences.
The NAMAC Conference provided a program of Media/Arts Expo where we were invited to sign up for various workshops, symposiums, lectures, tours and screenings.
Although there was a great amount of information for one day, the overall experience was very rewarding. I made some good friends and had a great time talking to other film makers and people in the business. The networking opportunities were really wonderful and just getting to hear all of the interesting stories as well as sharing time together and creative exchange was the highlight.
I am very happy and grateful (and much better informed) to have been invited to participate with so many wonderful and creative people in the NAPT Producer Workshop. Thank you to all!
Submitted by enei.begaye on September 17, 2012 - 4:55pm
My husband and co-Producer, Evon Peter, and I had the honor of attending the recent NAPT Producer Workshop and National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC) conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.Our film “We Breathe Again” was selected for NAPT funding support recently and we were then invited to attend this producer workshop and conference.The entire trip was greatly informative, both inside and outside the workshops.
NAPT Producer Workshop brought together some thirty native filmmakers who are all working on exciting projects.The opportunity to get to know other experienced and new filmmakers was definitely a highlight of the trip.In addition to this excellent networking time the information presented during the Producer Workshop was very informative.We came away from the daylong presentation having a much clearer understanding of NAPT on the whole as well as Public Television in general.Of particular value were the discussions around addition funding sources available for film projects such as ours.It was also excellent to learn about the marketing support and educational engagement opportunities that NAPT will be able to offer our film throughout our relationship with NAPT.Additionally, we had an interesting and informative session on social media.
Overall the NAPT workshop was interesting and informative, however, there was a lot packed into a one-day session.There was little time throughout the single day to really get into constructive conversations with the other filmmakers or NAPT staff. Yet, we realize the constraints of time, especially when bringing busy people together, so while our time together was understandably short we are happy with our time spent at this gathering and hope to continue growing the relationships begun during this time.
Furthermore the NAMAC conference was informative and provided more time for networking.Between the two of us we went to a number of sessions during the NAMAC conference, including the Plenary session “Artists as Leaders”; Mobile Engagement; Digital Frontiers: Copyright/Privacy, etc; Creating “Leaderful” Organizations and Networks; Public Art: Engaging Communities; and Digital Distribution. In addition, we watched a number of short films – Native and non-Native produced – and we even had time to check out the “Hack Factory”.The Hack Factory was an interesting space for hands on learning; I had a good time learning how to pick different types of locks (although I’m not quite sure what the applicability is to film production other than the fact that I do tend to lock myself out of things often). Moreover, the NAMAC conference provided more time for us to be able to meet further with other producers and resource people.In fact, during this additional time we made a number of valuable connections with people who were not at the NAPT workshop.
Overall our time at this gathering was very productive and worthwhile.Being fairly new to the world of film production I was happy to learn that much of my experience and knowledge from the past 12 years of community organizing and non-profit management will translate well to producing films!Thanks NAPT for a great opportunity to expand our knowledge and network!
We screened Bridge the Gap to Pine Ridge on five different occasions at a total of four different venues both on and off the Pine Ridge Reservation in May 2012. The goal of this project was to have a dialogue with students and teachers about our film. Did we hit the mark? Did we miss it? Did we film in a culturally competent manner? During the screenings we were able to have fruitful conversations with students about how we could improve on our storytelling techniques in the future.
We screened at the Pierre Indian Learning Center in Pierre, South Dakota, in order to get some perspective from viewers outside of the Reservation. We also screened at the Little Wound High School and Middle School, Pine Ridge High School and the Wolf Creek Middle School--all of which are on the Reservation.
There was a sense of gratitude among students and teachers alike that we were willing to open ourselves up, as filmmakers, to criticism. They appreciated that we did not just “get what we wanted," and never visit again. Overall, people were happy that we attempted to tell a positive story. While they very much appreciated our efforts, they were also kind in letting us know ways we could tell an even more positive, accurate story the next time.
Students expressed the wish to see more “every day life” elements in our film. They wanted to see a high school basketball game, kids playing football, and kids hanging out in the cafeteria. One of the most poignant moments was when a teacher commented, “We want to show that our kids are just the same as everyone else.” With this comment, I realized that as a filmmaker, I tended to focus on the ‘romanticized’ elements of Lakota life.
One of the most obvious elements of this is the buffalo harvest segment. In the future, if I go back to Pine Ridge, or to any Native community, I would love to capture more of that “every day life” element. I think it’s crucial for young viewers off the Reservation, who have never been to a Reservation, or maybe never had even a conversation with a Native American youth, to see that we are all the same. We listen to similar music, stress out about our relationship problems, and at the end of the day, all want to be happy.
By far the strongest feedback we received was from a young student at the Wolf Creek Elementary school. He said, “Why are we considered the poorest county?." In that moment, I explained that the United States classifies ‘poor’ by fiscal wealth. When in reality, money doesn’t have everything to do with poverty. Some regions that are ‘fiscally poor’ are very rich in a lot of other ways, such as culture or family. Pine Ridge is no exception.
Several cast members from the film were able to attend the screenings, including: Alex White Plume, Kevin Poor Bear, Randy Puckett, Jace DeCory, Eileen Janis, and Yvonne DeCory. Eileen and Yvonne were part of the Live Life/ Suicide Prevention segment and spoke at several screenings to increase awareness for their organization.
Survey Results: We handed out surveys at only one or two schools. We felt that it would be more meaningful to have a dialogue with students one on one as to where we could improve upon our work. The most important takeaways from our experience are the following:
Do not only focus on ‘romanticized’ or ‘exotic’ issues.
Capture more ‘everyday life’ elements. Not necessarily the most exciting elements, but simple activities that show people are the same everywhere.
Be careful on how you classify people. If you are going to say “poor," be specific in terms of what that “poor” classifies. If it’s money, say that.
Local communities are much more trustworthy of you if you are able to be honest about your mistakes or failures. This will enable you to grow as a person and will develop stronger ties with that community.
From honesty comes lessons. From lessons comes respect. From respect we can begin to create change together.
Every once in a while, the very idea of a documentary series exactly matches what’s going on at home. Such is the case with Growing Native.
I recently moved home to the Fort Hall Reservation after living in cities for most of my career. I couldn’t wait to experiment with food. The first thing we put into the ground: Blue Corn. Last year’s crop was healthy and this year’s corn was grown from last year’s seeds. We also dried corn, hanging it as art all over the house. We then ground much of that corn into meal and consume it often.
Any day now we’ll harvest again. The crop, like last year, is extraordinarily tall. Most of the stocks are about 8 feet tall.
My idea is to look at my garden as a consumer. What would it take for more families to add their own grown food to their regular diet? How much effort to really contribute to a better diet? The answers will roll out over time.
Here is a short slide show about last year’s crop.
- Mark Trahant, Growing Native advisory committee member
I recently taught digital media to a group of Southern Ponca students at White Eagle Oklahoma for the Standing Bear’s Footsteps project.The Class began with nine students who were selected the Ponca Tribal Education Department. The students varied in age from 10 to 14, that’s fifth to eighth grade, 4 girls and 5 boys. This was a six-week project, with classes held 2 ½ days per week.
A mission statement was written for our class –“Each student will have a positive and fun learning experience, exploring and creating digital media, as it relates to the project theme.” This was a summer project for the kids and I didn’t want it to seem like a regular school class. And as an instructor I wanted to keep it interesting and fun, a definite prerequisite for this age group.
For the first week the focus was learning the tools, a MacBook Air, a small handheld Toshiba HD camcorder that could also takes stills, and a Tascam digital audio recorder. A great mix of hardware and software that had to be learned and understand as each student headed down the digital path.
The Meaning of Home Row
As a first assignment, and to flesh out project ideas, I asked the group to use the computer to write about themselves, what activities do you like to do, places you like to go, things you like to do with your friends, a simple task-I thought.
I soon realized the students had little or no experience typing on a keyboarding. (Not taught anymore in school) You can ask adult students to write a story idea and they will look for the home keys, however this generation doesn’t have the same keyboarding skills to type quick paragraphs. At least not the way I was taught.
The hunt-and-peck method was something I realized this generation of students use for typing. No different than texting or gaming. And have you ever tried using the home row method with both hands on your I-Pad?
“It’s Indian Fair Hot outside”
In the first series of lessons I discussed the term “collaboration” and explained how I wanted to work in this way. I wanted the work to be theirs, with me assisting in any way that was needed, but in the end it was to be their work.
While I took on the task of teaching, I wanted the cultural aspect and project ideas in the hands of the tribal representatives. Each week we had a cultural resource person talk to the class. I wanted the students ideas to become the driving factor for their projects. I wanted it to be their own work, from their interest, and then they would own and be proud of their project.
I had hoped to get more projects from each student, however I do feel the experience was important for them. And the experience of working with the laptops, software’s, and equipment has given them a new sense of confidence and accomplishment.
I believe this project has outstanding aspects. The fact that the latest computer and digital hardware was brought into the tribe, their kids taught “how” to use it, then given to the tribe for use in the future is unprecedented. It is an investment that needs to be nurtured for the future.
Hindsight is 20/20
As I review the project and how lessons were delivered, I now think that setting aside the first two days for just teaching tribal history and culture may be a better strategy. In the past I would present the hands on task the first day, just to keep them engaged. However at their young age, there are still questions that need to be asked and answered by their tribal elders. It is imperative that all participants, students, staff, tribal planning group, are part of the “why” of digital media. Then we proceed to the “how.”
I do realize different groups have different needs and solutions, but any thoughts from other instructors would be appreciated.
I want to thank Kay Shaw, from the Public Media Corp for having the vision and dollars to invest in the equipment, and for coming all the way to White Eagle to visit the students. And also being the keynote speaker for our graduation ceremony.
A thank you to Shirley Sneve and Brendan McCauley for offering the opportunity and continuing the vision to make projects like this possible.
And a major thanks to the Ponca Students who showed up every day for class, the parents who allowed them to attend, and the staff who gave of their time and energy during the project.
The project mission of the “Meaning of Home” is an on going quest for many of the young students. I hope the Public Media Corp’s (PMC) Digital Media Arts Club, and NAPT can continue to offer support for the next few years. Then I feel we will start seeing important productions and stories coming from the Southern Ponca kids at White Eagle, Oklahoma.