Native filmmakers from Buffalo Nickel Creative (BNC), an
Oklahoma-based multifaceted communications agency, were among participants at
the Getting Real ’18 conference Sept. 25-17 in Los Angeles. The three-day conference brought together
filmmakers from around the world to network and learn about different facets of
the documentary industry.
“We are excited to expand our work and launch our first
full-length documentary,” said BNC co-owner Joseph Brown Thunder, descendant of
the Hochunk and Oglala Sioux tribes. “We plan to shine a light on important
issues and perspectives from authentic Native perspectives which is lacking in
the documentary world today.”
The BNC project will focus on the grassroots Native women
movement that led to the passage of the 2013 Violence Against Women Act which
includes enhanced tribal jurisdiction over non-Native offenders. Native women
are murdered at a rate 10 times the national average; 4 in 5 have experienced
violence; and more than 1 and 2 have experienced sexual violence, according to
“Often the perpetrators walk free due to a jurisdictional
nightmare between local, state, and federal law enforcement,” he said.
“The Getting Real conference came at an important time for
us, as we ramp up for our documentary,” said Ryan Red Corn, a member of the
Osage Nation and co-owner of BNC.
“Although we have a handle on our story, the workshops on pre-publication
review and fact checking were very helpful especially since we are dealing with
such a sensitive topic. We want to be able to protect the women and their
families who are featured in our film.”
The research and development for the BNC documentary is
being partly funded through Vision Maker Media in Lincoln, Nebraska.
“Vision Maker Media, through this conference, has put us in
contact with several of the documentary industry leaders,” said Ginny
Underwood, a member of the Comanche Nation and writer/producer with BNC. “We
now have a great network of Native filmmakers and industry experts to help us
navigate the documentary world from shooting to distribution.”
An important theme of the conference included a series of
discussions about decolonizing and diversifying the documentary industry. “The
‘#MeToo’ session was helpful in understanding the major hurdles that still have
to be overcome at every level of filmmaking,” said Underwood.
“We know that invisibility of Native peoples in film and pop
culture is detrimental to our communities, particularly young people,” said Red
Corn. “The lack of representation
dehumanizes Native peoples and erodes support for Native issues. Our goal is to
push back against the standard tropes and stereotypes of the Hollywood Indian.”