Two Red Cloud students take part in Washington filmmaking workshop

posted on June 11, 2012

Austin Big Crow ’15 and Santianna Yellow Horse ’15 recently returned from an exciting west coast adventure. The two were in Washington State for the seventh annual SuperFly filmmaking workshop.

The workshop brought together fifty Native youth from around the country. At the program’s outset, they were divided into five teams, and provided with an original film script. They then had less than two days to storyboard, shoot, and edit their films. These were then premiered a mere four hours after completion at the Seattle International Film Festival, an honor that many well-known filmmakers do not receive in their lifetime.

Clementine Bordeaux ’02 worked as an adult mentor at the workshop, and had this to say: "This was my second year as a mentor for SuperFly and I was excited to bring students from Pine Ridge to participate. These students not only work with talented filmmakers, but also meet other Natives from all across the country. Their movies are screened at one of the largest international film festivals on the west coast; not many filmmakers can boast that. It is a crazy 36 hours of filming, editing and collaboration, but the final results showcase all the hard work the youth put into the projects."

Big Crow said that while the script itself was a pretty straightforward story about a family trying to get ready to go to a party while running into various mundane obstacles, the student groups took many different interpretations in creating their short films. One group employed a stop-motion filming technique, one created a silent film, one turned the story into a horror movie, and Austin’s group’s video featured dancing.

The students themselves worked in different aspects of the production. Yellow Horse, who was in the stop-motion film group, worked primarily on editing, while Big Crow acted and laid out the film credits. He said that editing the movie down to the necessary length was the most challenging part of the experience, and that they stayed up all night working on the final product.

This year’s scriptwriter was Sierra Teller Ornelas, a graduate of a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts Summer Television & Film Workshop and the National Hispanic Media Coalition Fall Television Writers’ Program. Ornelas worked as a writer and producer for Comedy Corner, the longest running weekly college sketch comedy show in the country, and also as a film programmer at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.

The festival itself is put on annually by Longhouse Media ( Its mission is “to catalyze indigenous people and communities to use media as a tool for self-expression, cultural preservation, and social change.” The organization seeks to provide youth the skills necessary to tell their own stories through digital media, produce high quality media for the broad community relating to Native issues and people, and to support indigenous non-profits with access to affordable media and video productions.

Longhouse Media won the 2009 National Association for Media Literacy Education Award, a bi-annual award whose recipients include Bill Moyers and NOW, NPR’s “On the Media”, and Jon Stewart and the Daily Show. Through its “Native Lens” youth media program, the organization has worked with over 1500 Native youth in the Pacific Northwest through partnerships with regional tribes, funding agencies and established non-profits.

For more information about this year’s workshop, go to: