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  • A little background on myself: I have been interested and passionate about filmmaking since I made my first short film for a seventh grade project. It all stemmed when a volunteer teacher, Mike Butler, taught my seventh grade Social Studies class at Red Cloud Indian School. As part of an end-of-the-year project, he wanted the class to get creative, to make a project that best represented out current country we picked to study. I chose New Zealand for a magnitude of reasons, one being I was obsessed with The Lord of the Rings films. As a 13-year-old, I had latched onto the escapism of what fantasy had to offer, which I look back at it now as a means of self-discovery and a place my mind can wander off to, given the realities of what was happening in my household at the time. I had watched over and over the special features on the making of The Lord of the Rings, and I really wanted to make a movie too. When Mike Butler had given me the option, I jumped at it with excitement and naivety. I made my first 5 minute short film about a Prime Minister of New Zealand. In the eight grade I was encouraged to enter that short into the South Dakota State Media, of which I won first place in my age category. Since that moment, I have been spending the majority of my time obsessing and learning as much as I could about film and filmmaking.

    In high school at Red Cloud, I made three more short films. My interest in the fantasy genre bled over into these shorts; all were vampire based.

    It had been about 4 years since my high school days, and I have had many incredible opportunities in my exposure to the film industry. I have been to LA, where I meant the lovely Tracy Rector of Longhouse Media, which lead to my first feature film internship last August. That experience had to be one of the greatest yet. I had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful and talented individuals, both Native and non-Native. I learned a lot about the mechanics and the machine that a film production is, as well as the about myself and the filmmaker I want to be. With that, when my best friend's fiancee approached me about making a short film about zombies, I could not refuse the opportunity to make a film back at the place where it all started.

    Isnalawica Belt [pictured], fiancee to my lifetime best friend, and who I consider my sister, Angel White Eyes, wanted to enter a contest and he did not want to enter a conventional response. So, he come up with the concept story for the short, he pitched it to me, and I was on board instantly. This was an opportunity where I could put into practice the many bits of knowledge I have gained over the past few years. Not only that, but it is always exciting to merge Native peoples into mainstream genres; alternatively to the conventional historical dramas that are the norm in Hollywood.

    Native zombies? It was such a fun idea and story and project. It was not a feature length, but it was something our small creative team of 3, were super passionate about. We spent a week planning and one day, 9 hours, shooting the footage with the help of James Yellow Boy as our key grip. We had a blast. It was especially nostalgic for me, because it had been 4 years since I shot a film with my best friend, and on campus at Red Cloud Indian School. Following production, I spent a week editing and composing the short so that it could be ready in time for the contest deadline.

    Even though the zombie short, titled "Dead Late", spawned out of helping out a great friend, it also meant a great deal to me personally. I hadn't had the time since entering college at Creighton University in Omaha, NE, to really make a film I was passionate about, or even inspired to create. My time had been spent with course work and meeting all the expectation given to me by my mentors and teachers. Making this short really got me excited for the future; with one more year left in university, I know I'll have a home in filmmaking and in the arts. As a young Native American from a reservation who is currently in the public eye, with its poverty story and images of hopeless, I want to make the difference in telling my people's story. Both as a feature filmmaker and a storyteller for the people. I also want to inspire the arts in our youth and hopefully one day soon, bring opportunity to them.

    Here is the link to the short, mind that there is brief mature language, as well as zombie gore, but it is project made out of sheer joy and the talent of a great team. There is definitely more to come.

    Dead Late:
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