June 05, 2007

On the Lot nixes Arapaho

Inches & Adam Beach...On Looking for Steady Work as a Native Movie MakerI anticipated becoming one of the contestants that must make one movie a week and are voted off based on how good their movie is. If I could get on the show, even if I am voted off the first week, I will have achieved something very few Native Americans experience; mainstream network exposure. If I were voted to stay on, I would have to rise to the peak of my skills in writing, producing, and directing one short movie a week for twenty weeks. I could make a living making movies, no matter the reality television construct. And I would get exposure for my works.

The show premiered without me.

I did not even get a rejection notice. Not even a “your experience does not match our requirements”. So, my short-lived television career comes to an end. Could it be that I was not Indian-y enough? More beads and feathers perhaps? Honestly, the only time when most non-Natives even acquiesce to view Natives as contemporary is when we explore all the sad and bad things about being Native American. So the non-Native public can say, oh, poor things, that’s terrible, and go back to their dinners. Or maybe, Steven Spielberg, one of the producers of the show, read some of the commentary I wrote about him and nixed me. (I could at least buy that one.)

4 comments:

russell said...

Writerfella here --
Interesting article but disjointed, and both compelling and telling at one and the same time. writerfella is no filmmaker but his own movie and TV experience lets him see there are raging misconceptions in the gentleman's idea set. For one, there is no steady work in independent filmmaking anywhere -- and the word 'independent' really says exactly why. For two, one does not go into such a life direction without formal training and without practical experience to back up that training. Therefore, it somewhat is easy to see why ON THE LOT hurtled ahead with the gentleman off the lot -- training and experience would make almost anyone else more qualified to be selected for the competition.
As recounted on this blogsite in times past, writerfella has told how and why he became a writer and especially how he became a film writer. Although there were several fortuitous (and thus seemingly improbable if they were part of a story or a script) circumstances invoved, the backbone of writerfella's building of a career was his going back to school after leaving the US Air Force, including attendance to twelve colleges and universities over several years for formal and intensive education in writing, grammar, plotting, formats, and composition. Otherwise, without such matters, writerfella only would have been the wrong person in the right place at the right time. Like shadetree mechanics, the age when anyone arbitrarily could decide to become something, and then become it, is over.
As diplomatically as is possible, the individual should be told that he must get formal training or the continuing series of 'setbacks' he reports only will continue to set him back...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Carole said...

Russ,

Ernest DOES have formal training in filmmaking--through his university studies, working on several projects of his own, and as a side-note, has further experience as the director of the First Nations Film & Video Festival in Chicago. The dude knows movies--hands on and academically.

russell said...

Writerfella here --
And therein lies another tale -- it occurs not in his narrative, and he must realize that there is no such thing as 'sympathetic magic.' Just because he knows something does not mean that everyone else automatically knows it as well. Oddly, he doesn't speak as a filmmaker would who had any experience at all. Understand that Chris Eyre, among others, at one time was one of writerfella's scriptwriting apprentices and so it is that writerfella knows how such a person speaks. The other side of the same coinage may be, okay, he has training and experience -- but HOW MUCH? And for how long? Nothing of this appears in his article -- he indeed may live, breathe, and eat film but it doesn't show through -- all of that verbiage and it all in fact tells us little about the man save for his complaints...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

Thanks for the info, Carole.

I think Russ has a point. Whiteman didn't give us much of a sense of his assets or plans. For instance, what are his top three strategies for breaking (further) into the industry?

I'm in a vaguely similar position since I'm trying to publish comics. I could tell you a dozen steps I'm taking and a hundred steps I'd like to take to become a success. My problem isn't a shortage of ideas, it's a shortage of time and resources.

Nevertheless, if I keep plugging away, I'm confident I'll reach my goals. If it takes another five or 10 years, I'm not worried. I'm in this for the long haul.

Maybe Whiteman would like to address these issues--either here or in another NativeVue column. How about it?