Terry Jones is a man of many talents. He’s a photographer, writer, filmmaker, and actor. He also makes one heck of a batch of Indian Corn Soup in the true Seneca tradition. Residing in New York City, Terry is on the Roster of Performing and Allied Artists at the American Indian Community House, a non-profit organization serving the health, social service, and cultural needs of Native Americans residing in New York City. Jones also hosts corn soup dinners there from time to time. In fact, his corn soup has won him some renown. His email moniker is CornSoupMan, and he has been featured on Chef Mark Tafoya’s ReMARKable Palette Podcast in both audio and video podcasts.
Jones is one of a 4-person team producing Casino Nation. This one-hour doc explores the impact of Las Vegas-style casinos in Jones’ home community in the Seneca Nation of upstate New York. Jones and his cohorts, Paul Wilson and Laure Sullivan, and Mark Repasky, have been working on this project since 2002. Their hard work, persistence and tenacity will pay off in 2009, when Casino Nation will be in the line-up of the PBS series P.O.V.
This past June, Terry was one of many filmmakers honored by the National Museum of the American Indian, American Indian Community House, Renew Media, Sundance Institute Native Initiative, and Tribeca All Access, for their contributions to Native film. In 2005, Terry wrote an article about Casino Nation which was published in e-misférica - Performance and Politics in America, a biannual online journal published by the Hemispheric Institute for Performance & Politics. The article provides background on how gaming came to the Seneca Nation, and inspiration for the film came to the Casino Nation production team.
Many of Jones’ previous works are streamed on his website, www.tornjersey.net, which reveals him to be an old Monty Python fan, and explains the origin of the name of his website. Also posted there are his written and photographic works.
NAPT caught up with Terry for a Producer Profile interview in June at SilverDocs in Silver Spring, Maryland. There he was a panel presenter, representing the Native independent film contingent, surrounded by a table full of public television veterans. His presence on the panel did much to increase accessibility for the audience of mostly young filmmakers to whom the public broadcasting system is akin to the great and powerful Oz.
His presence and delivery are kind-hearted, humble, while at the same time ever-optimistic and, well, fearless. On meeting Terry Jones, one gets the feeling that his gift to this life may be to make difficult subjects accessible to a broader audience -- whether those subjects be how to crack the PBS code as an independent filmmaker, how his community and many other tribal communities are grappling with the promise of newfound wealth and the threat of corruption, or how to live fully in two worlds, and hold fast to the beliefs and traditions of his people.
by Penny Costello