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Forum Home - Go Back > Off Topic > Chit Chat Making a short film about Lakota culture. Making a short film about Lakota culture.

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Old 06-17-2013, 12:46 AM   #1
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Ideas for short film

This got double posted into the introductions. Please delete that one.

My name is Rostam and I'm a film student at UCLA and I've started to write the script for my thesis film.
I got interested in the native culture when I went to visit a Powwow in Irvine, I just fell in love with the people. I'm a Persian that grew up in Sweden and my culture is a bit mixed but I'm always open to new ones.
There's no warmer and loving people in the world than the Native Americans.

I need some help to understand more detailed parts of the Lakota culture.

I want it to be culturally correct and I want to show how beautiful it is.

I'd love to hear about any ideas you might have about changes!

Last edited by RozZy; 06-19-2013 at 12:13 PM.. Reason: Only posting for research purposes.
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Old 06-17-2013, 08:48 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by RozZy View Post
This got double posted into the introductions. Please delete that one.

My name is Rostam and I'm a film student at UCLA and I've started to write the script for my thesis film.
I got interested in the native culture when I went to visit a Powwow in Irvine, I just fell in love with the people. I'm a Persian that grew up in Sweden and my culture is a bit mixed but I'm always open to new ones.
There's no warmer and loving people in the world than the Native Americans.

I need some help to understand more detailed parts of the Lakota culture.

I want it to be culturally correct and I want to show how beautiful it is.

My story is about two native brothers, Wahkan and Mankato. It's set in the 1800's. Wahkan is the older brother.
They find the Wahkan's wife raped and murdered by a lake. There's evidence that a white man has done this because of the clues left behind.
Wahkan is mourning, but he can't live knowing his pregnant wife has died. Two days later, Wahkan is denying what happened, but Mankato needs him to get over his wife and to remember the truth. He takes him back to the lake and Wahkan remembers. He tells Mankato to leave him alone for a while.
Wahkan wraps a rock to his arms and drowns himself in the lake.
A couple of days later, Shilah has to do the vision quest. Having no family left he needs to be able to start his own again.

Heís in the woods, praying and fasting by a fire, the fire all of a sudden extinguishes and he sees a vision of Wahkan crying by his wifeís dead body and also the silhouette of the man who killed her in the woods.

After the vision ends the fire comes back, but thereís something closing in from the woods. Itís a white boy named Christopher thatís gotten lost in the woods. Mankato makes him leave to continue his prayer.

The morning after Mankato finds Christopher lying on the ground freezing. He takes out a blanket and puts it over him and leaves.
He walks by a river, and on the other side he can see Christopher filling up his water pouch. Mankato tries to avoid meeting him but Christopher approaches anyway. Christopher is gives back the blanket to Mankato
Mankato is praying by the fire, he receives the same vision again, but in this vision heís approaching the silhouette and he can see who it is. The man is Wahkan dressed as a white man. Heís covering his bloody arm; Christopher approaches Ahki from the dark again and interrupts his vision. This time, Mankato lets him spend the night by the fire, but that doesnít give Christopher any sleep because of Mankatoís prayers.

As the story progresses he starts accepting Christopher and they start liking each other. Mankato decides to help him find his way back.
With Mankatoís help they find Christopherís home. At the cabin Christopher jumps in to his brother James arms.

Mankato is looking from a distance and sees a bandage on James arm. Later that night while they are sleeping, he approaches the house and enters. He sees the same type of Brandy he found at his brothers wifeís body and it is clear that James murdered her.

Heís says a prayer and when heís about to stab him he receives a vision, seeing himself as Christopher without his brother and the future of Christopher dying poor and alone. When the vision ends and Wahkan is standing in the room with them. He canít kill James, Wahkan tells him that heís better to let someone suffer from the scar of knowing what he did.

Christopher wakes up and sees Mankato with a knife, ready to stab his brother. Mankato puts down the knife and is about to leave when James picks up his gun underneath the bed and aims it towards Mankato. The candles cabin extinguishes. You can hear Mankatoís footsteps and a stab that makes James scream. Mankato has stabbed him in the hand. He says that he's leaving him a scar in his hand that will remind of him.

3 months later, Mankato goes back to check up on the Cabin. But instead of it only being one cabin, thereís now a whole village of white people.



I'd love to hear about any ideas you might have about changes!
You came up with all this stereotypical bull s h i t after visiting ONE powwow in Irvine???????? Wow.
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Old 06-17-2013, 09:33 AM   #3
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I'd love to hear about any ideas you might have about changes!
UCLA huh. My Aunt is a prof there -- different department. Welcome to powwows.com

Rostam, since you are planning to go into the image-making industry, I'm going to try for a teachable moment. I'm going to say some hard things, please hear me out.

You are coming to our culture from a highly romantic and unrealistic point of view. Your comment about falling in love with us as a people, suggests you have fallen in love with you idea of us as a people. "...[W]armer and loving people..." I'm a Native person and I love my culture, but even I don't love all Indians. And I suspect my the time this thread gets shredded, you won't love all Native people either.

You story is not a Lakota story. The synopsis you gave doesn't reflect Lakota values. It is instead full of dominant culture tropes.

Let me tell you something about Lakota culture, there is a time and place for discussing visions and a non-Native, student film isn't that time or place. Please try to understand, we do not causally discuss the sacred. There is power in these things and to play with that, even to name it carelessly, is dangerous. If you don't know where those boundaries are you have no business attempting the topic. A five hundred word post online will not teach you where these lines are, only living the culture will. The best you can hope to accomplish is a ethnographic drag act.

As a Native woman, I am:

Tired of only seeing my people depicted in the 1800's.

Sick of seeing the media depict traditional religion like an LSD drug trip.

Weary of being romanticized.


As a Native woman, I want to see Native characters who:

Live in modernity.

Don't have tragic, romanticized pathological lifestyles.

Aren't tree-hugging, crystal-licking mystics.

Deal with the kind of tensions a Native person in the modern world faces.


If you want to discuss a non-sterotypical, contemporary depiction of Native people, I suspect you will find many who will help you. Not the least of which is the local urban Native community around you -- the largest is the US.
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Old 06-17-2013, 11:24 AM   #4
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Its just a story outline with subject for change. I wouldn't even post on these forums if I didn't feel like I needed help.
I know how it feels to be treated as a minority, I'm from Sweden which is one of the most racist countries in the world, especially against middle eastern people.
I've been doing all the research online that exists and frankly, there ain't much. That's why I've seeked out these forums.

The reason I'm not doing it contemporary is because of when it started and when the world wasn't destroyed by the settlers. Coming from another country and being closer to nature makes you see things in America that are scary. Like that that it usually takes you two hours of driving to see a natural forest that hasn't been destroyed yet. The people I talked with where 50+, the younger generation I talked to didn't seem to want to talk with an outsider. I want your voices to be heard but hostility is making it hard.

I am an open minded person and I know there's other open minded people out there as well. The Americans in this country still don't understand what happened here and what did exist before.
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Old 06-17-2013, 12:37 PM   #5
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Hostile? Rostam, if you think my response is hostile, I suggest you be very very careful where you take your tender feelings. Are you getting mad because, I'm failing to live up to your romantic expectations?

Let me I tell you what your story says to me:

Here is another exercise in white guilt, with my people as props. Some Indians victimized by the white people. Instead that doing what a warrior people like the Lakota would do and fighting back, one Indian commits suicide and the other prays. But opps there is a helpless, lost white dude that needs saving. So Mr Indian helps out and learns to like the wasicu. Then he finds his new buddy is kin to the murder and rapist. But he only gives murderer a warning. Then poof, the Indian is gone, ground under the wheels of Manifest Destiny.

The credits roll. The audience wipes away their Iron-Eye Cody-esque tear. Safely insulated from any real connection because they are nice environmentally friendly, hipsters who recycle and don't rape pregnant women.

It's Last of the Mohicans. It's Dances With Wolves. It's Avatar. It's the same old reverse captivity narrative.

If you insist on casting your tale in this mythical, Grizzly Adams world, why don't you try the harder tale. Why don't you tell a real story of cultural contact? Where neither side is saint or sinner. But all parties are just trying to do what their ethos tells them is right and there is the tragedy. Morality tales work better when we can see our faults in Iktomi's actions.


As for research on the internet... The meat of my culture isn't on the internet. Many lies about my culture are. It doesn't live in books. It is in the community, language, stories, arts.... It is living and changing and swirling all around you, but unseen. Because we are in this world as well as the past.
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Old 06-17-2013, 12:52 PM   #6
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The reason I'm not doing it contemporary is because of when it started and when the world wasn't destroyed by the settlers. Coming from another country and being closer to nature makes you see things in America that are scary. Like that that it usually takes you two hours of driving to see a natural forest that hasn't been destroyed yet. The people I talked with where 50+, the younger generation I talked to didn't seem to want to talk with an outsider. I want your voices to be heard but hostility is making it hard.
Funny, I would love to see it as a contemporary film BECAUSE of the reasons you listed for not doing it. You personally have seen the world change and the differences between cultures, so draw on that personal feeling and emotion instead. You can draw from personal experience on the idea of seeing how the destruction of areas can change a person's life. You also have personal experience like many of us, in being away from your traditional culture. Growing up in a world where the majority's ideas and beliefs may be vastly different from the ones you were taught by family. You understand how difficult it can be to try and find your place in a world that may not understand a large part of you. Or the struggles you may have trying to find your place in your own culture due to being so far away for so long. THAT can be how you relate to many native peoples and get their voices heard. Not all this 1800's gobbledygook.

Yeah, the world's not like it used to be. Sure it takes you two hours to get to a forest over there on the west coast. But that's nothing new. Things change, humans destroy/make things into what they wish. That's life. That isn't solely a Native American thing, and it isn't just an American thing.

If you want to reach ANY audience, relate to them on a level they can understand emotionally. Relate the experiences of the characters to the experiences that an audience can feel. All this pseudo-spiritual cultural crap... it ain't us. If your native community can't relate to a story that's about them and they call it out for its bullsh*t, you can be sure that the non-native audience will probably miss the point of what you were trying to say. And if you want to do a story about how the world is changing and nature is being taken over by human developments... do a story about that, without trying to include the native community for your "love of them".

On top of all that, you talk of spiritual things without a proper understanding. That understanding is not something that you can accurately learn without being involved in a culture (if that's if people even wish to share the information with you). If you don't understand something, leave it alone.

Your story is just too romanticized. It will just yet again portray our/my people in this old fashioned yippy-dippy tree-hugging facade without accurate representation.

And I gotta ask, why Lakota? You're in Irvine and went to an Irvine powwow. Why not focus on some of the Cali natives? Why not talk to some Chumash, Kumeyaay, or people from other tribes in the area where you can get a more accurate representation of their history and how they also live today?

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Old 06-17-2013, 01:22 PM   #7
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1st paragraph you say there is no warmer or loving people than native americans......BWAHAHAHAHAHA

its nice and we appreciate it, but dont get me wrong....after only one powwow you cant possible know this........indians are just like everyone else

mean, jealous, backbiting, "crabs in a bucket" ect.........and you should see the women they are even worse

dont mean to burst your bubble but dont romanticize us because if you spend some significant amount of time around us we are sure to dissapoint you
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Old 06-17-2013, 01:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RozZy View Post
This got double posted into the introductions. Please delete that one.

My name is Rostam and I'm a film student at UCLA and I've started to write the script for my thesis film.

I want it to be culturally correct and I want to show how beautiful it is.

My story is about two native brothers, Wahkan and Mankato. It's set in the 1800's. Wahkan is the older brother.

I'd love to hear about any ideas you might have about changes
!

You say you are Persian? A culture with thousands of years of history...and stories?


Have you seen the documentary "A THUNDER BEING NATION" by Scottish director Steven Lewis Simpson?

Simpson spent 13 years on or near the Pine Ridge reservation, and produced this documentary with many interviews of local Native people speaking from their own knowledge. This is on DVD, on Amazon website.

So, please get a DVD copy, watch it, and please return here to the forum with your thoughts.

.
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Old 06-17-2013, 01:32 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by milehighsalute View Post
1st paragraph you say there is no warmer or loving people than native americans......BWAHAHAHAHAHA

its nice and we appreciate it, but dont get me wrong....after only one powwow you cant possible know this........indians are just like everyone else

mean, jealous, backbiting, "crabs in a bucket" ect.........and you should see the women they are even worse

dont mean to burst your bubble but dont romanticize us because if you spend some significant amount of time around us we are sure to dissapoint you
Well, the part of his script where Mankato puts a blanket over the freezing young Christopher....

Why can't that be a diseased blanket?

Christopher takes the blanket back to the white settlement, and they all get wiped out by disease.

Then Mankato goes down in history as the Red Superman that drove out the white devils.


Darn, these UCLA under grads need more Imagination 101, and 102
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Old 06-17-2013, 01:39 PM   #10
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you know what this story is missing? the white guy should score with the chiefs daughter!!!!!
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Old 06-17-2013, 02:04 PM   #11
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Somehow in all this, I keep picturing yet another A Man Called Horse type of film.
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Old 06-17-2013, 03:09 PM   #12
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Well I have realized now it was a huge mistake to even post any type of idea for a story since I'm researching. But this was just an idea I had that's going to change. It's not set in stone at all.

People still have no clue what the natives have gone through.

Maybe you could help me by naming a few problems that you think the film should bring up and that hasn't been brought up before. What do you feel would be the most important one?

The reason for it not being accurate right now is the time-limit they've given us. 30 days to write a script. But I'm extending this project for my thesis in 6 months from now and I'm sure it will look different by then.

I'd love to meet some people from Chumash. I picked Lakota because most research papers I could find was about Lakota.
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Old 06-17-2013, 03:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmigoKumeyaay View Post
You say you are Persian? A culture with thousands of years of history...and stories?


Have you seen the documentary "A THUNDER BEING NATION" by Scottish director Steven Lewis Simpson?

Simpson spent 13 years on or near the Pine Ridge reservation, and produced this documentary with many interviews of local Native people speaking from their own knowledge. This is on DVD, on Amazon website.

So, please get a DVD copy, watch it, and please return here to the forum with your thoughts.

.

Thank you for the tip! Ordered it.
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Old 06-17-2013, 03:30 PM   #14
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I'd love to be a writer, or a screen writer...but am lacking talent and/or ambition. HOWEVER, everything I have EVER heard from those that are talented and successful...WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW!!

Why not a story set in Sweden with Persian and Swedish characters??

Then follow the same plot, but maybe in a modern setting...
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Old 06-17-2013, 03:41 PM   #15
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I'd love to be a writer, or a screen writer...but am lacking talent and/or ambition. HOWEVER, everything I have EVER heard from those that are talented and successful...WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW!!

Why not a story set in Sweden with Persian and Swedish characters??

Then follow the same plot, but maybe in a modern setting...
I would love to do that. The story is more focused on the clash of cultures than the spiritual part. I can remove that easily. I want to show the horrible things the white man has done and that he's not better than Hitler was in WW2. What they did to the natives is the worst genocide in recent times. There's nothing in the world that needs to be known more than this.

I know I don't know enough right now, not even a fraction of it. But I want to learn and I will do so by visiting tribes and get to know the native people. Sweden is a small country and the Persian culture still exists. The native culture is small and it's gotten small for one reason only and it's not because of the natives themselves.
Any tips about tribes I could visit around Los Angeles would be great.

I want your voices to be heard.
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Old 06-17-2013, 03:45 PM   #16
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Have you given any thought about going into Inglewood and using Snoop Dogg as your lead character with that same story line?

Fo shizzle my nizzle!

You have 30 days to learn about over 500 different tribes and their ways. With Snoop Dogg/Lion, you only have 2 cultures...Inner city and Rasta.

Sh!t, gimme some of that she it Snoop smokes and I could have a vision!
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Old 06-17-2013, 03:52 PM   #17
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I would love to do that. The story is more focused on the clash of cultures than the spiritual part. I can remove that easily. I want to show the horrible things the white man has done and that he's not better than Hitler was in WW2. What they did to the natives is the worst genocide in recent times. There's nothing in the world that needs to be known more than this.

I know I don't know enough right now, not even a fraction of it. But I want to learn and I will do so by visiting tribes and get to know the native people. Sweden is a small country and the Persian culture still exists. The native culture is small and it's gotten small for one reason only and it's not because of the natives themselves.
Any tips about tribes I could visit around Los Angeles would be great.

I want your voices to be heard.
Maybe you should focus on the Rain Forest of Brazil. The cutting down of trees is like cancer of the lungs. They are cutting down the very tools that make oxygen. That is more important than trying to wanting 'your voices to be heard'.

I'm not trying to be funny or facetious. You story has been written a thousand times. If you want to make a difference, do a film of the issues that affect the ENTIRE world.
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Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?


"When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

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Old 06-17-2013, 04:11 PM   #18
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Maybe you should focus on the Rain Forest of Brazil. The cutting down of trees is like cancer of the lungs. They are cutting down the very tools that make oxygen. That is more important than trying to wanting 'your voices to be heard'.

I'm not trying to be funny or facetious. You story has been written a thousand times. If you want to make a difference, do a film of the issues that affect the ENTIRE world.
The environmental issues started because of the greed of man. NA native's are a perfect example of how it all started. Europe had no trees left, no resources or food. They find a new world with tons of it. And what do they do? They kill everything and leaves it with badlands and deserts.

I like to go to the source of the problem. I know that romanticizing a story is "lame". But you need to make the audience love something before you kill it and take it away from them to make an impact. It's the main rule of storytelling. Without that it's going to be very superficial and people just wont care.

I have six months of research time, I feel as a film maker I'm obligated to make a change instead of doing something about snoop dog smoking weed. And I want people to know about what got destroyed because of mankind's greed. And the natives are the ones that got most destroyed. I know it is a sensitive topic. But instead of digging it deep underground for it to disappear I want to show what happened.

I'm not giving up that easily. I will do my research and get it right.
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Old 06-17-2013, 04:29 PM   #19
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Good job.. lol

Then take out all those cliches and stereotype scenes of your story. Use themes of today. Why make a film of the 1800's? where are you going to get the clothing to be 'period correct'?

And how in the heck did come up with the names 'Wakhan' and 'Mankato'? Do you know the meaning of the word 'Wakan' in Lakota? Have you given any thought in your desire to tell the world on the problems of the Natives in North America, you may be offending the same people you wish to help?


Your film script reads like a conglomeration of every romantic book and film ever made. Your story sounds like every story written by non-Indians that has a wolf in it, a dream catcher on the wall, Natives in leather fringe, Red Deer Table, blah, blah, blah.

Have you heard of Jim Chee?

This is what you wrote:

I'd love to hear about any ideas you might have about changes!

Your story needs change. My words are written as constructive, not destructive. May they get to your eyes in the same manner.
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Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?


"When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

Mr. Rossie Freeman
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Old 06-17-2013, 04:40 PM   #20
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Good job.. lol

Then take out all those cliches and stereotype scenes of your story. Use themes of today. Why make a film of the 1800's? where are you going to get the clothing to be 'period correct'?

And how in the heck did come up with the names 'Wakhan' and 'Mankato'? Do you know the meaning of the word 'Wakan' in Lakota? Have you given any thought in your desire to tell the world on the problems of the Natives in North America, you may be offending the same people you wish to help?


Your film script reads like a conglomeration of every romantic book and film ever made. Your story sounds like every story written by non-Indians that has a wolf in it, a dream catcher on the wall, Natives in leather fringe, Red Deer Table, blah, blah, blah.

Have you heard of Jim Chee?

This is what you wrote:

I'd love to hear about any ideas you might have about changes!

Your story needs change. My words are written as constructive, not destructive. May they get to your eyes in the same manner.
They're constructive now and I thank you for that. I wish I hadn't posted that story yet since I'm not even at the script stage yet.
I do take in constructive criticism and I can only Imagine how it would be for someone from another culture of mine doing a film about Persians and getting it wrong. I would react the same way, but I would also start helping the person to get it right.

Yes lets make it contemporary. What problems would you want the film to bring up?
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