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Maybe You Need a Note from Your Mother Before We Let You Play

Updated: Jun 17

It is your favorite Native filmmaking family. We just wanted to give you a little update on life. Our current project is The Powwow, which has been wonderful to see come into fruition. Every time we watch it, we love it more and more. And it has taken us a long time to get it to the point to where we’re like, “Dang, that was pretty good. We did that?”

Now, we can’t really take credit for our current love of the project. Pretty much what we did was record other people doing great things. But really that could be said about all filmmaking, which is just people recording people doing great things.


Obstacles and Such

The obstacles with The Powwow that we encountered were different from previous projects. Or maybe the obstacles were the same, but the way to overcome them was different? For both High Note and Beyond the Shadows, we were doing preproduction for what seemed like at least a year before filming (in reality, it was probably more like six months). Lots and lots of planning and budgeting and scheduling and contracting and shot lists and camera angles occurred before anything was captured by the camera. And the reason why we stayed in preproduction for a long time — to plan and plan and plan and to organize and organize and organize — was to maximize our coverage. Coverage in filmmaking is the different angles and positions of the camera for a scene. So you might shoot the full scene as a wide angle, and then get the full scene as a close up, and then you might get a cowboy shot of the scene where you cut the actors off at the knees. Or maybe you’ll want a close up of an axe in a stump for B-roll. Or a wide shot of the landscape as you drive to a cabin in the dark woods with your friends...


Basically, you want to capture as much as you can, so when you get to the editing process, you have multiple pots to take from to make a good stew. And everything you want captured should be deliberate. There should be a reason for us to use a close up underneath of an actor's face (to display power for that individual character to the audience). There should be a reason to do one long, continuous shot following our actors around the room (to slowly bring the audience out of the story whether consciously or subconsciously). Many reasons to shoot something. Our goal during production on both High Note and Beyond the Shadows was to capture everything as best and as deliberate as possible, and do it in a way that was hopefully organized. And to help us accomplish that goal, we would plan months and months in advance.


For The Powwow, we probably started brainstorming on preproduction two months or so before the actual event, not really planning anything out, but just talking. And that talking stayed about the same all the way up to the event, which was that we didn’t really know what to expect other than to bring a lot of SD cards and a lot of batteries. That was basically our plan. No shot lists. No idea for camera set-ups. No idea what the actual space would look like the day of the event. Just SD cards and batteries. Looking back, we probably needed four cameras with operators, and maybe three different sound setups. That would have grabbed us the most amount of coverage. One person on the drumming, one with a close up of the dancers, one with a wide of the dancers, and one doing interviews. So if any filmmaker reads this in the future and is thinking of recording a live event such as a powwow, bring multiple cameras lol.


Now the potential problem with more cameras is more footage to go through during post-production. We went in thinking that we’d probably end up with like a 15-20 minute little short documentary. Instead we ended up capturing hours and hours of footage. One can probably make an entirely different feature length documentary from the one that is currently doing the whole festival thing. And this was just from using the one camera that we own. Editing footage from multiple cameras sounds more overwhelming than the overwhelmingness we had just from the one camera. Editing usually takes just as long, if not longer than pre-production. For this film, we had double the amount of footage than our previous two films, and we also didn’t have any idea of how to string it all together. With traditional narrative filmmaking, we had a script and a pretty set path on how to edit all of the footage together. Of course, little changes pop up for the better during post-production, but overall those films had a pretty set path. With The Powwow, we had no idea of how to edit it. We had all this footage with no clear narrative to follow. So in closing, we wrote all of the paragraphs above to let you, the audience, know that the film is finished.


Release Date

We were originally thinking a fall release of 2022 after shooting the powwow in spring of 2022. That quickly changed once we started going through the footage. So, we then thought spring 2023 because spring feels like a more appropriate time frame for the film, but still we felt we had a very basic, cookie cutter of a documentary. So, we needed more time. So we switched it to Spring of 2024. Which is now lol. But we then decided to go the festival route, which takes an additional 6-12 months. We now have set a date on our release, which will be March 28th, 2025. This is a hard set date. It will be released on this day. We can only work on the same thing for so long lol. We will see you then.


Best regards,

GGP


PS: The title of this blog post came from our mother and her siblings, who said that this was our grandfather’s way of trash talk back in the day. I just thought it was the most perfect trash talk, so I saved it on my to do lists to keep it from disappearing. Many layers to it. It’s great.

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