March 1, 2023
Native Lens Media Fellowship works on two short films to premiere at Durango Independent Film Festival
Tribal Radio | By Crystal Ashike
Seven Native Lens Media fellows have embraced hands-on experience from Indigenous film director, producer, and writer Brooke Pepion Swaney.
Last spring, Vision Maker Media contacted Native Lens, a collaborative Indigenous first storytelling documentary short film project created by KSUT Tribal Media Center and Rocky Mountain PBS to initiate a film training program for Indigenous youth.
Nineteen individuals passed the screening, but only nine applicants were accepted to the intensive weeklong program covering sound-quality audio recording, interviewing individuals, film terminology, equipment handling, filming, editing, and story framing under fellowship instructor Swaney.
The goal is to develop two short films pitched by the fellows to showcase at the Durango Independent Film Festival starting Wednesday in Durango, Colo.
One story follows a group of young Southern Ute Indian Tribal ice climbers and mentors who have experience or no experience ice climbing but find a connection with their ancestry-scared homelands in Ouray, Colo.
The second follows a Fort Lewis College Native American instructor and award-winning poet Esther G. Belin in Durango, Colo.
Day One: Group One
On Sunday, seven Native Lens fellows met with their instructors, Brooke Pepion Swaney and Colten Ashley, at the Ballentine Media Center at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. Ashley demonstrated how to use a video camera for the fellows.
The Native Len Fellowship filming training program works out of the Ballentine Media Center throughout the week.
Leland Collins Jr., 20, from Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, gets comfortable holding a video camera and has worked on three documentaries about his tribe. "I look forward to making more documentaries about other Indigenous tribes as well," says Collins.
Learning the ropes
As part of the training, the Native Lens fellows learned how to roll up cable cords and the various positions in film industry. Each fellow took turns practicing the technique.
Israel Duran, an inspiring Navajo Nation filmmaker, watches and copies Colten Ashley, KSUT Tribal Media coordinator, roll-up a cable cord.
Fellowship Instructor Brooke P. Swaney watches Native Lens fellow Kimey Begaye practice in the Ballentine Media Center on Sunday
Native Lens fellow Jaycherie Little (Oglala Lakota Oyate) grew up in South Dakota and learned the roll-up cords technique from Brooke P. Swaney at Fort Lewis College.
Day Two - Lights, Camera Action
Native Lens Fellows split into two groups. Laelah Kizzia, Shannon 'Spencer' Spencer, and Isreal Duran, the first group started filming at the Southern Ute Community Center on Monday at Ignacio, Colo.
Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Cassandra Atencio (Southern Ute Indian Tribe) warms up the room with a laugh. At the same time, the three fellows prepared to interview Atencio for one of their documentaries that will follow a group of young ice climbers and Atencio to Ouray, Colo.
Native Lens fellow Laelah Kizzia (Navajo) records Bird Red interview on a video camera. Red is a Southern Ute Indian Tribe member reconnecting to his culture and teachings through ice climbing.
Spencer observes the audio levels and is a Native Lens fellow living in the Navajo Nation. He is originally from the White Mountain Apache reservation. " I have a keen interest in filmmaking, as the craft has always sparked wonder and amazement in me since I could remember," said Spencer.
Yllana-Chanelle Howe (left), Cassandra Atencio (middle-bottom), Rhianna Carel (right-bottom), Bird Red (top-middle), Cyrus Naranjo (top-right) take a group shot together after Native Lens fellows interviewed them for a short documentary.
Day two: Group two
The second Native Lens group met at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., to interview Esther Belin, a multimedia artist and writer.
Jaycherie Little and Kimey Begaye check the lighting through a video camera screen for the second film and group.
Jaycherie Little and Kimey Begaye check the lighting through a video camera screen for the second film about Esther Belin.
Native Lens Media fellows filmed on top of a mesa where Fort Lewis College overlooks Durango.
Jaycherie Little films Esther Belin at the rim of a mesa on the Fort Lewis College Monday evening for the second groups film.
Kimey Begaye, Native Lens Media fellows hold a video camera.
Both shorts will premiere at the Durango Arts Center on Saturday at 5 p.m., along with other Native Lens shorts created by Indigenous people for the Durango Independent Film Festival.
A reception for the Native Lens participants will take place at Sorrel Sky Gallery from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is open to the public.