Discusses filming, Hollywood and future projects
Upham: Courtney looked me up on Native Celebs and called my agent while I was promoting "Edge of America" at Sundance. We talked for an hour or so on the phone and she had a "really good feeling" and asked me to do "Frozen River," the short. We all loved working with each other so much that over the three years it took to get the feature going, we kept in touch and all made plans to be back.
ICT: Did you research the Mohawk culture or the smuggling issue before you started?
Upham: No. I really just went by the script and took my direction and tried to stay true to it. I knew about smuggling because my own tribe does it. So I kind of grew up with this knowledge of it to the point where it wasn't shocking at all. Some of the cast were actually smugglers, so I just asked them about it and kept it in the back of my mind.
'Frozen River': how to make a Native movie
When it came time to shoot, Hunt's Mohawk friend assured her that everyone approved. "But what she'd done is she talked to the people on the Canadian side," said Hunt. "She hadn't talked to the tribal council on the American side, and they were like, 'What are you doing?' And I was like, 'Oh boy. I'm in trouble now.'"
Fortunately, continued Hunt, "They voted 2-1 to let me stay. One of the chiefs was like, 'I'm offended by this.' And the other two sort of had the idea of, 'Yeah, but it's awfully close to the truth.'"
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