The new documentary, For the Generations: Native Story & Performance, offers viewers a unique look at today’s most progressive Native American music and dance performers. This month’s producer profile features Sean Hutchinson. He is a co-producer of the film, along with Mary Hager (French-Canadian Cree/Metis) and Arlie Neskahi (Navajo) of Painted Sky, last month’s featured producers.
Hutchinson’s media career began at the University of Georgia’s Journalism College where he worked at a newspaper. “I worked at a paper for about two years, and I realized that I wanted to get involved in more visual storytelling, so I went to film school at Georgia State,” explains Hutchinson. In 2001, he got hired at Oregon Public Broadcasting as a production assistant. There he worked with Mary Hager. “I developed a relationship with her and an interest in her performing arts dance group Painted Sky,” says Hutchinson.
For the Generations was originally intended to be a live show, but as the project developed, “it became a documentary piece as opposed to a stage performance,” explains Hutchinson, “at that point I got brought into the project.” As a member of the production team, Hutchinson aided in the search for talent to be profiled in the film. After settling on the cast, “we tried to find various locales where the setting might add something to the stories,” says Hutchinson.
For the Generations features contemporary Native American musicians and dancers filmed at locations around the U.S. and Canada. Artists include the Women of the Four Winds: Martha Redbone (Choctaw/Shawnee/Cherokee), Wayquay (Ojibway/Anishnabe), Tracy Bone (Ojibway) and Davidica (Oglala Lakota) on tour in Taos, New Mexico; classically trained ballet dancers Michael Greyeyes (Cree) and Santee Smith (Mohawk) performing in Vancouver, Canada; and musician Bill Miller (Mohican), appearing in La Crosse Wisconsin.
“This is a vibrant genre, and it’s not an ancient practice or just a heritage,” explains Hutchinson, “people are taking elements of that and doing new and really interesting things, and it’s worthy of the general audiences’ attention.”
For the Generations: Native Story & Performance will be airing on public TV stations in June. Be sure to check your local listings.