April 07, 2014 6:30 am • Meredith Colias Journal Staff
Production company looking for Native American actors
For a woman who had never given a passing thought to being in a movie, the wait Sunday to audition was both nerve-wracking and thrilling.
“I’m actually kind of giddy,” Wynona Traversie, 63, of Rapid City said. “My armpits are sweaty, and I never sweat.”
She and nearly 50 other aspiring actors stopped by for a Sunday afternoon casting call at the downtown Rapid City library. Upon their arrival, the aspiring actors filled out a short form and then had to memorize one passage of their choice from movies like “Legends of the Fall” for their brief on-camera audition.
First-time filmmaker Mollianne Cameron was directing the show on Sunday. Her production company, Chocolate Eyes Productions, is here to find actors for a film about two girls roughly between 8 and 10-years-old — one white, one native — who form a lasting friendship after an unforeseen tragedy brings them together.
The auditions continue Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Hoyt conference room. Cameron is hoping to cast Native American actors to play a grandmother, three fathers, two mothers, a teenaged son, a daughter between 8 and 10 years old and two children at least three years old.
Traversie said she was grateful for the chance to be part of a project showing Native American culture in a more positive light. “I really hope the film is a success,” she said. “The more we get away from the stereotypical Native characters, it’s better for them to see. We don’t all live in poverty.”
Cameron and her husband live most of the year with their children near Indianapolis, but they also own a horse ranch seven miles west of Custer and close to where he grew up. They will begin filming there in late June.
She said the beauty of the Black Hills provides a perfect backdrop for their story. “It’s a way different life out here,” Cameron said. “It’s a place everyone should see.”
The location, she said, will allow them to set the production’s pace without feeling rushed. “It really fits the story the way she wants to tell it,” said her husband, Russell Cameron.
He said she wanted to make the film from a child’s perspective to avoid stereotypes that have plagued other films about Native Americans.
“We won’t have substance-abuse issues and a lot of swear words. It’s going to be a family friendly film,” he said.
Their plan is to produce the film first, then show it at festivals while they hope to find a distributor. They have managed to secure funding from a number of sources and are spending some of their own money on the project.
The undertaking is a big risk. Russell Cameron said production costs alone might range from $50,000 to $100,000 but with technology driving down some of the costs of film-making, his wife said the time was right to pursue a passion she had since she used to visit a theater blocks away from her home as a child.
She is just as excited as some of the prospective actors and said they will iron out the details with actors of lesser experience if they have to once filming begins. “It’s really about how they come across on camera,” she said.
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