Steven Lewis Simpson

The Optimism Versus Fear in Releasing Neither Wolf Nor Dog (see 2 clips from film)

It’s been a five and a half year journey for me so far in bringing Neither Wolf Nor Dog to the screen. Lots of ups and downs. False promises from allies and potential funders ate into much of that time, but then the heroes of the story swung into action; the fans of the novel and my previous work – you wonderful people. Support in previous Kickstarter’s gave me the ability to make this film a reality.

Now as we near our time of release and after amazing audience reactions so far at our World Premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and our North American Premiere recently in San Diego, as well as at some other special screenings, I am looking forward and wondering how the distribution will pan out.

On the positive side is the constant encouragement I get from an amazing support network of fans, as well as our thousands on Facebook and mailing lists. But on the other hand, I’ve been down this road before and know how little follow through there is normally. I have three Native titles on release already (Rez Bomb, A Thunder-Being Nation and the TV series, The Hub). All get great feedback from those that have seen them, but in reality, few people actually bother to buy them. And that is what kills Native films. They are very expensive even when low-budget and the film-makers do it for free – I’ve been on this film for this five and a half years without earning a dime, though putting my own money into it (though everyone else other than Kent Nerburn was paid up front).  To show how bad it is, last month my Video On Demand earnings from all three titles that I spent years making was about $3. The service costs $18 per month. Even though my show, The Hub has many major Native stars in it, and its main presenter is Martin Sensmeier, star of the big Magnificent Seven movie out now, I perhaps average only 40 DVD’s sold each year. So I’m running a loss still on the costs of making the DVD’s.

The Native Film Project that I launched, and tried to get people to commit to buying 2-3 other Native titles a year had only about 20% of those that committed to it actually follow through and supported our first release, which was one of the most critically acclaimed Native movies ever.

Fortunately, I live a very inexpensive life so I can concentrate on these projects with such little income. I live a chunk of my time in S.E. Asia for example to keep costs down. It would be impossible if I had dependents, like most others making Native films.

But then the optimism flows from the reaction we get to the film and in knowing that there is something historic in the performance Dave Bald Eagle gave at 95-years-old. Never has an elders perspective been so central to a film. The echo of genocide that runs through the film and is spoken at Wounded Knee is also deeply moving and profound. So the hope is that we get the groundswell that the film deserves and it takes on a life of its own.

Sometimes I look at the $75,000 target in the distribution Kickstarter and worry that I am being too optimistic, even though my heart then also sinks as I think about how it still is a long way from where we will ultimately break even – especially after all the expense of distribution. But it should just be a case of finding 3,000 people in this world who want to pre-buy the DVD or BluRay many weeks ahead of its commercial DVD release.

Well, I’ve 35 days to see how it all goes. I know people are going to be deeply affected by the film. Please pass on the campaign.

Click here for the Kickstarter

Kicksarter presentation and two clips from the film are in the video below.

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