April 09, 2007

Studios can't find Native actors?

Is Hollywood Clueless, Lazy, Political...or All Three? The Myth of the “Vanishing Indian”I was contacted to “help find Native Americans” for the last time a few weeks ago. This was for a MAJOR film production, they couldn’t “find” Native American actors and by the time they found out about me, they were desperate and out of money for the casting part of the budget.

This happens so much it is sickening. Desperate casting agencies trying to save their reputations and casting credits and production companies calling and emailing to ask how I find “them.” If it’s the production company calling, they sometimes have a tone in their voice doubting that I can because they’ve paid as many as four or five casting directors before me who claimed to “specialize in finding Native Talent” who came up with nothing, and who can blame them after all that? I can and so can all of you!

9 comments:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
writerfella mostly is shaking his head because once he worried over such games but no more. Many companies and yes, casting directors, will go through the motions of trying to find 'Native talent' but that's usually what it amounts to - motions. Then they hire either HENRY Geiogomah or 'Sonny Skyhawk' as technical advisors and, while those jobs are safe, it is the case that those hires become the sum total of the 'diversity' visited on the project. writerfella did seven movies and one TV episode while he was in the Florida arm of the Screen Actors Guild, nailing every audtition he attended. But upon his return home to Oklahoma, though he still went to casting auditions, he lost each and every role he sought to Saginaw Grant. Thus, he allowed his SAG membership to go into sleep mode and concentrated on his writing. writerfella was, after all, first and foremost a writer fella.
But he does think to ask, just where in all of that foofarah in the article was the much-touted 'Native Americans In Film'? What happened to all the rhetoric that Native actors should try to influence film companies NOT to present films riddled with stereotypes? Is this situation an outgrowth of such rhetoric? Who's zooming whom?
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

I don't know Tara Ryan's opinion of Sonny Skyhawk and American Indians in Film and Television or vice versa. Why don't you post a comment at the end of her column and ask her?

I posted a comment suggesting that NativeVue.org list casting directors and consultants who are sincerely interested in placing Native actors in roles. I can't say whether that includes Skyhawk and his organization.

While you're asking her about that, you can ask her about Native actors trying to influence producers and directors to curtail stereotypes. If I were a Native actor, I wouldn't be so eager to work in Hollywood that I'd sell out my fellow Natives. But then, I'm not a Native actor.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
No, Rob, you are correct in realizing that you just are another white man actor.
Writerfella has seen recent promos of BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE on HBO and, not surprisingly, it will afford Rob Schmidt with great fodder for this website. It takes place at the end of the Indian Wars, as was represented in the last episodes of INTO THE WEST, as a Sioux man is taken east and comes back as a Sioux White Man (Adam Beach). The balance of the story then becomes that more of his Sioux young people see that this is the wave of the future, and so they also leave their tribes. At least, there are no great speeches spoken by the Sioux in the manner of motion picture 'Indian Shakespeare.' But Rob and his cohorts will see it not as history, but rather as yet another perpetuation of stereotypes and racial biases that have continued even until today. The only thing wrong with that is this: stereotypes and biases do not cease to exist upon exposure and attack, but rather are replaced by NEW stereotypes and biases as time progresses. This does not impact nor deter such persons from their crusades, but only seems to justify their pursuits. And it also matters not that the removal of certain stereotypes and biases only makes for the creation of NEW stereotypes and biases to replace those so ended.
For you must see, EuroMan must have those who are inferior to himself, or he begins to feel that what he knows of himself just might not be true. As was said in the film, THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, 'watch the skies, keep watching the skies!'
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

As with you and your career, I'm a writer, not an actor. Unlike you, though, I've never claimed to be an actor.

I haven't taken a position on the upcoming Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. If I had, you would have heard of it.

There's nothing inherently stereotypical about telling the true story of that terrible time in history. Unless, of course, you want to talk about the meta-message of keeping Indians in the past--of dealing with them as vanishing relics rather than modern-day people. But since you don't think movies have messages, you're not equipped for that discussion.

The idea that new stereotypes necessarily arise to replace old stereotypes is ridiculous on the face of it. We used to think the Irish fought and drank and Jews were calculating and greedy. Since these stereotypes have diminished, what Irish and Jewish stereotypes have formed to take their place? Good luck with your answer.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
It does not require care to answer such a stereotypical question. Irishmen make noted politicians or advisors or financial contributors, even Senators and Presidents. Jews own Hollywood and control the content of American motion pictures and television, witnessed by the fact that the Holocaust almost is a perennial topic in both media. One only has to assess the film andf TV industry's reaction to Mel Gibson's drunken tirade to recognize modern proof for part of the above.
Is that careful enough for you, Rob? And writerfella's statement about you as an actor meant: no white man ever resists the opportunity to ACT as The White Man...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

I doubt anyone thinks of the Irish as "politicians or advisors or financial contributors." Unless you mean the kind of back-room, cigar-smoking politicians that filled Tammany Hall a century or two ago.

My Irish girlfriend confirms that these old stereotypes persist and your new stereotypes haven't replaced them. I doubt you can prove otherwise with anything resembling documentation.

As for Jews owning businesses and controlling the media, that's a corollary of the "Jews are greedy" stereotype. Jews are greedy because they control businesses and vice versa--or so it's said. So that's the same old stereotype, not a new stereotype.

In short, I told you you'd need luck with your answer. I was right. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

As for your final comment, many people are surprised I'm not Native because I reflect Native beliefs and values so well. Compared to that praise, your "actor" aspersions are worthless.

Rob said...

Here, I've done the research for you, since I know it's hard for you. Below are three sites that mention Irish stereotypes. They include all the old, familiar stereotypes and none of the new ones you invented.

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=1006050127176

http://allaboutirish.com/library/identity/stereotypes.shtm

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Irish-Culture-2878/stereotypes.htm

Again, "politician" isn't a new stereotype. It's an old stereotype I didn't mention.

TJR said...

TJR here guys, anyone who follows my company and career knows now what is public knowledge. I am in no way fool enough to think that any of us, even together can pressure anyone from doing anything they don't want to do. If you want to know my honest opinion and sincere only answer to this problem, it is very simple. The only answer to any business question is always competition. From our own brilliant independent filmmakers and, frankly from Native American Television. Our own voice. It's just that simple. Want more information, www.TijerLilyCo.com. Clearly this late comment, lets you know how busy all of us who are working this hard on changing the infrastructure are. I only found out this blog I posted on NativeVue found its way here from a tracker sent my way. Yes, Rob did answer the question, to have a chance for me to answer a question, is to ask!

Happy hyper blogging...

Rob said...

Hi, TJR aka Tara J. Ryan. Thanks for writing.

There's a prominent Newspaper Rock icon on each of NativeVue's blogs. Now that you know we're here, check us out.