Growing Native

Growing Native

       

Growing Native Blogs

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In 2004, thirteen Indigenous grandmothers from all four corners, moved by their concern for our planet, came together at a historic gathering in Phoenicia, New York. At this event, they decided to form an alliance called "The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers" in response to a prophecy made by their ancestors thousands of years ago.

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I had the opportunity to interview Frank Blythe, who is my grandpa and Founding Executive Director of Vision Maker Media, as well as my mom, Francine Blythe, who is Executive Director of the National Geographic All Roads Film Project. The three of us were in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the same time and we got together for a cookout.

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I just finished reading an article by Cheryl Crazy Bull on behalf of Indian Country Today Media Network. The article, entitled "Education is Key to Prosperity,"really struck a chord with me, and I must say that I whole-heartedly agree.

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This past Saturday was the world premiere of my documentary The Thick Dark Fog at the 36th annual American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco. Walter Littlemoon, the subject of the film, and his wife Jane Ridgway were in attendance. Full house at the Embarcadero Center Cinema! A packed house watched the film and then had the opportunity to ask Walter and myself questions afterwards. Also joining us were producer Jonathan Skurnik, composer Kathryn Bostic and wardrobe person and actress Joyce Ferrer.

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After attending the NETA conference in Kansas City October 19-20, 2011, I came away with lots of great ideas and motivation on how to promote, produce and bring stories of diverse backgrounds and experiences to public television audiences.

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Getting together with a group of thoughtful, determined media makers to discuss the future is always a meaningful experience. Add a group of top-notch educators into the mix and what you have is something special. That’s what happened last month when Vision Maker Media, along with the Institute for American Indian Arts, graciously hosted a gathering of media makers and educators in Santa Fe to discuss everything from how media can effectively reach students in the classroom to creating national media campaigns for that very same media.

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I received valuable professional information about working as a documentary producer during the Media for Change workshop with Molly Murphy from Working Films on August 19 of this year. I am fundamentally a writer, director, cinematographer and editor, but I will be making my first foray into documentary producing for an upcoming project in my company, Red Ant Films.

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The Media for Change workshop held by Vision Maker Media brought to light many of the challenges facing both educators and independent producers today. However, there seems to be a disconnect between the needs and desires of educators, the model of the independent producer engaged in content creation for public television, and the shifting realities of funding and distribution.

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Rarely a day goes by where I don’t thank the forces of social networking and how it has helped my film along in many ways. I credit Facebook- without hesitation- for bringing in thousands of dollars to my fundraising campaign on Kickstarter this past June from one single email plea to my friends, family and colleagues.

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Many thanks to the visionaries at Vision Maker Media and their partners for organizing the “Media for Change” workshop. It was a rare (and fun!) opportunity for filmmakers and educators to meet one another and talk extensively about their shared priorities. I wish we could do this more often! Here are some of my thoughts from the meeting. 

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