May 08, 2010

Sikumi the feature film

Inuit Actors Sought For Full-Length "Sikumi"

By Mike DunhamAndrew MacLean, whose short film “Sikumi” (“On the Ice”) has won awards at the Sundance Film Festival and elsewhere, will hold auditions in Anchorage starting today for an expanded version of the movie. Prior acting experience is not needed.

Producer Cara Marcous said that the upcoming movie will be MacLean’s first full-length feature film. It takes the premise of the short film—a murder and the conflict faced by a witness to reveal what he knows—and transplants it to modern times, with the action set in contemporary Barrow.

The lead characters, two adult men in the short version, will become teenagers in the new movie. And where the first “Sikumi” featured all-Inupiaq dialogue, the full-length rewrite will use English, “Because almost everyone in Barrow today speaks English,” she said.

So being “comfortable acting in English” is a requirement. Also, Marcous added, “all the character are Inupiaq so we’re only casting for Inuit people,” ages 16-70.
Comment:  Uh, the original Sikumi was set in "modern times," so that won't have to change.

A couple points worth noting here:

  • Setting the story in Barrow and using Inuit actors will make the story more authentic. Glad to see MacLean and Marcous get it.

    Although the two leads in Sikumi are adults, their success suggests that it won't be impossible to find teenage Inuit actors. Which is why MacLean and Marcous are seeking such actors in Anchorage, Alaska's biggest city.

    Too bad the producers of The Last Airbender didn't take the same approach for their Inuit-based characters. Despite their much bigger budget, they put out a Hollywood casting call for Caucasians and others. In other words, they didn't make a real effort to cast Airbender authentically.

  • A short film is how the acclaimed Frozen River got started also. This seems to be a good way for filmmakers to go. Make a five-, 10-, or 15-minute version of your film on a shoestring budget. Then use that as your calling card to raise awareness and seek investors. Prove that you have the talent and vision and (one hopes) the money will come.

    For more on the subject, see Sikumi on YouTube and The Best Indian Movies.

    Below:  "Barrow: Award-winning director Andrew MacLean plans to film his full-length feature in his home town."

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