I can not remember the first time I heard the term 'Rez dog' or even remember what the first rez dog I saw looked like. I am positive it had to have happened during my first six months in Shiprock, New Mexico. There are a few dogs there still!
Two years later and a bit wiser and older, I had been bit by a few of rez dogs, prayed for a few and even came to like many of them. Little did I know that this would qualify and prepare me for my first paid film position as a cinematographer for Dina Huntinghorse's documentary 'Rez Dogs'.
The film never got the attention it deserved, nor I had hoped for. I'm glad it at least finally found it's way to youtube. Be warned there are a few disturbing images of some of the harsh realities a rez dog faces in life. Hope some positiveness can come out of this project.
A few screen grabs from the film.
How long does it take to make frybread?
In our case, it took well over 5 years...
"From the Ashes" is the pilot episode of the series "Frybread." based off of the cult classic hit film More Than Frybread which was released in theatres in 2012.
The series follows former WWFA president, Donathan Littlehair, as he tries to rebuild the World Wide Frybread Association. President Littlehair will do anything necessary to push the cause of frybread forward.
This is Holt Hamilton Films first attempt at a series. Season 1 will contain 13, half hour, episodes.
This is the ONLY Native film series devoted entirely to Native American Frybread!
Be a part of the journey as this ground breaking show leads the way in American Indian film, Indigenous movies and Native American Frybread history!
"A script is not just a stale blueprint written to guide physical form and action of a film, but an emotional, spiritual manual aimed at moving the inner heart and mind of the reader, whether actor, technician or audience. It's the heart of the film process." Writer/Director Holt Hamilton, creator of numerous Native American, American Indian and Indigenous films.
Recently, looking back at my first Native American movie, I found myself drawn to what I like to call the 'Wild Horse Scene'. (see movie clip above) I remember thinking about this when I was writing it at the time and how most Hollywood American Indian movies available then, usually had a horse ride that involved a beautiful sunset across a beautiful part of ancient indigenous land like Monument Valley or similar. I remember laughing to myself and thinking it would be fun to change things up a touch and have our 'Native horse scene' happen across beautiful land and beautiful light with beautiful people, but add a nice reservation reality and twist to it.
I had lived a couple years on the Navajo and Hopi Nations and had seen many horses, some in pasture, some running free. I well understood that not every horse on the reservation could be ridden, or caught, and not every Native American knows how to ride a horse just like not all kids from Idaho know how to drive a tractor! I also had spent two years riding a mountain bike across Navajoland and so I could easily imagine what this collage of different elements could look like. I also liked the fact that Harry, played by Deshava Apachee (Navajo/Mescalero Apache), was trying to impress a young lady friend, played by Natasha Kaye Johnson (Navajo/Arabic), on their first date and his talk of being a great horseman created some great anticipation.
Enter the legendary Native American humorist/singer/songwriter Vincent Craig (Navajo), who played Uncle Billy in the movie, who comes out of the house to try and help catch the families four legged friends. After numerous failed attempts, and with a bit of sun still up, the two men give up chasing the horses, while city loving Turquoise Rose enjoys from the sidelines. Heartbroken that Harry can't win his girl's heart over, they still manage to have a bike ride through 'never before seen on screen' beautiful reservation land.
I originally wanted to have shots of the two riding bikes through Monument Valley, Shiprock, Window Rock and a few other well known places, to 'show off' more of what Navajoland has to offer, but we ran out of time. I also thought it would push the scene's humor as anyone from the rez really knows how far apart some of these places are and can only imagine how many days it would have taken to ride bikes from Shiprock to Window Rock to Monument Valley.
This was one of my favorite days of filmmaking on Turquoise Rose. I will never forget working with my friend Vincent Craig and all the talent that came with him. Native country lost one of the best when he passed on. I'm grateful to have known him. I also think of the Barney's who allowed us to film at their place with their well trained horses and have been so kind over the years.
I've enjoyed a brief visit down memory lane! Hope you did too. I would love to hear your thoughts about this scene!
- Holt Hamilton, writer/director of Indigenous and Native American film
We celebrated our 14th year in business last November in Flagstaff, Arizona. We introduced our new Holt Hamilton Films logo along with recognizing and honoring a few Nations and individuals who have played important roles in our companies success. We hope to continue to make positive Indigenous films with Native American themed movies that have the ability to change the world for the better!
Enjoy our 14th Anniversary celebration of Holt Hamilton Films.