Ramona Emerson is a filmmaker originally from Tohatchi, New Mexico. She received her degree in Media Arts in 1997 from the University of New Mexico (one of the first two graduates of the program) and has worked as a professional videographer, writer and editor for over thirteen years. Her screenplay, The Backroad, was one of the first 10 finalists at the Flicks on 66 Digital Shootout (now Duke City Shootout), in 2000. The film, which was shot and edited in six days, was awarded the Student Spirit Award at the Indian Summer Film Festival in 2003. Emerson, who also directed The Last Trek, has showcased her films around the country with her latest film A Return Home being funded through the All Roads Film Project and New Mexico Governor’s Cup Short Documentary Competition in 2007.
She and her husband, producer/actor/artist Kelly Byars continue to produce films through their company Reel Indian Pictures in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Emerson also works as an editor and director of photography on other independent productions. She continues production on her documentary, Gambling with Our Future, which was funded through the 2008 New Visions /New Mexico Contract Awards. Ramona is also directing Hidden Talents, a documentary about Navajo mural painter James King Woolenshirt, with fellow Navajo filmmaker Nanobah Becker. She is a member of the Native American Producers Alliance and in January 2009, was appointed to the New Mexico Governor’s Council on Film and Media Industries.
In May 2010, Ramona was selected for the Sundance Native Filmmakers Lab/Ford Foundation Fellowship with her screenplay “Opal.” Production of Opal was completed in January 2012 and is starting its journey through film festivals. In 2012, Ramona and Reel Indian Pictures were funded for pre-production through Vision Maker Media and the Public Media Fund for their newest documentary The Mayor of Shiprock.