Steven Lewis Simpson

ANOTHER PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION MOVIE?

I’ve noticed a few blogs online in support of Rez Bomb but commenting about how everything seems to get set on Pine Ridge and wishing that more was set in American Indian communities elsewhere.

I wholeheartedly agree and am developing some projects that would do that. My reasons for shooting Rez Bomb are a bit more simple than that. Firstly it is a truly universal story. It was originally written for Edinburgh in Scotland where we actually shot the opening 9 minutes as a promo there years ago. But when I decided to relocate it Pine Ridge seemed the obvious place to me in part because it was in my comfort zone as I’d been to Pine Ridge a few times and had friends there so it wasn’t a step into the unknown.

Visually it is an extraordinary place that I wanted to shoot and also though my budget was small I wanted to spend it in the poorest community where it would do the most good. So Pine Ridge worked for that. Yes Pine Ridge grabs a lot of the limelight but I am sure most people would rather not have that limelight and not have to deal with the severity of the recent history that earned it as well as deal with the ongoing poverty (that exists elsewhere also but on Pine Ridge its like a perfect storm).

Hopefully if we can all build a strong enough grass roots campaign (and you can all help get the word out) for Rez Bomb where it can be successful then we can get back out there and shoot more work in Indian Country.

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60 thoughts on “ANOTHER PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION MOVIE?

  1. FilminNewMexico

    I agree, my film is based on a short story that takes place there. I’m putting together a film festival dedicated to Floyd Westerman for my hometown in MN. Working with former Santa Fe festival director here in Santa Fe. More festivals mean more and better films but funding and distribution is still difficult. We probably know man of the same people. Do you ever get to NM? Robert Redford is bringing a Sundance lab here to train Native and Hispanics in filmmaking. Stay in touch,
    Judy Bell

  2. Steph Duncan

    I wish you all the best with Rez Bomb. I’ll be happy to spread the word as part of a grass-roots campaign. There’s a good Canadian Lakota/Cree actor, Michael Obey, who also has projects and is always looking for partners. I’d also love to see more films like the ones Sherman Alexie’s done. Again, all the best to you.
    Steph

  3. steve Post author

    Hi Judy

    Yeah Rez Bomb played at the Santa Fe Film Festival at the end of last year. I’m sure we do know some of the same people. Yes it is hard at the moment. Am trying to get as much support for the film online as if we don’t make a financial return with this film (which was financed internally) then I won’t be able to justify investing in any of the other films and TV projects we have aimed at a similar market set within Indian Country. So any help putting the word out is greatly appreciated and join us on facebook, Myspace and twitter.

  4. Lakotalady

    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?

    1. steve Post author

      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?

      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.

  5. Sol Fyre

    I think that its helpful that you as an insider have such transparency with your information. The more individuals are informed of how things work the better they can understand.

  6. steve Post author

    Thanks

    I think the thing is that we all have our individual routes into whatever we end up doing. Though naturally in storytelling we gravitate to the high drama and the most famous stories and places first in part because we’ve got to market the films and try and drum up audiences. And Pine Ridge at least has some profile internationally.

    Also on the people being ripped off being extras in Dances with Wolves, to me is ridiculous if all the extras were paid on a level playing field. You never hear someone who was an extra on Transformers asking for royalty payments 🙂

    It’s going to take much of my next year working on marketing the film to make back the money I’ve spent on the film and that’s without paying myself any wages for the 4 years I’ve spent on the project in total. It’s a crazy business.

  7. Me

    Pine Ridge (home) can use any positive publicity at this time. Recently the New York Times ran some negative but true stuff about gangs in Ridge, also this month a negative feature somewhere in the Atlantic and then the shooting at the Lakota Nation Invitationals. My people are suffering, and everyone is on us. They don’t interview the mothers and grandmothers who have held the same jobs for 30+ years, or us college students pursuing our educations so we can give back to our people. So be kind, and be reasonable. You make it sound as if Pine Ridge were a spoiled child. And we are not.

  8. StevenLewisSimpson Post author

    Many thanks for the response. I do not make Pine Ridge sound like a spoilt child, I am referring to how some other people have responded and wanted to clarify why I shot on Pine Ridge. One of the reasons is that I love it there. Regardless of conditions I have some of my dearest friends there and I have a wonderful time there. In a feature documentary I am making about Pine Ridge all sides are shown including the wonderful OLC and elements like that. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

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