By Anna Skinner
Molli Cameron always wanted to tell the story of her great grandmother, a woman who taught school in South Dakota and married a Native American man, something completely unheard of at the time.
Molli wrote the script, and, after taking her husband, Russell, to film school in Chicago, the couple, with their two kids, Caven, 12, and Clara, 10, traveled to South Dakota to film “Lakota Girls.” Both children attend Westfield schools.
“I wasn’t sure if I could sell the script or if anyone could make a movie and produce it, so we decided to produce and make the film ourselves,” Molli said.
Two-thirds of the story takes place in present day, revolving around a young, white girl and young, Native American girl, yet the middle portion of the story jumps into the past to tell the story of Molli’s great grandmother.
“Most films made with Native Americans are rated R. They focus on the violence, the poverty, the alcohol and the drugs, and so I wanted to make something that the Native American children and my children could watch,” Molli said. “I wanted a positive film that showed the two cultures connecting and getting along.”
Russell filmed, and Caven and Clara both acted and assisted with the filming. If one of the kids wasn’t acting, they were holding horses, watching the children of the actors or helping Russell film. Clara helped Molli with dialogue, as the main characters in the “Lakota Girls” are young girls. Both kids took acting classes, and Russell and Molli said they learned by observing.
Russell also acted occasionally but spent most of his time filming and editing the takes.
“One of the most difficult parts of the film-editing process is getting the audio correct,” he said. “It takes a lot more time than you think. One scene might be 30 or 40 takes.”
The Camerons began filming in June 2014 and finished in January 2015. The national screening for the U.S. premiere was May 5, in Rapid City, S.D. at the Black Hills Film Festival.
“We will have an Indiana premiere. I submitted the film to the Indy Film Fest, and we find out in the beginning of June if we get in,” Molli said. “It’s our first film, so we’re thrilled to have our film in any festival.”
And although both Caven and Clara enjoyed acting, neither wants to pursue a career in the field.
“It’s a good skill to learn, but I’m not going to be an actor,” Caven said. Clara said she hopes to be a surgeon.
“It was a good family experience because it was something I wanted to do, and each of (the kids) could help get it done,” Molli said.
For more about the film, visit http://lakotagirlsmovie.com/.
Length: 94 minutes
Russell’s favorite line: “There’s no shame in being from the reservation.”
Clara’s favorite part: When she feeds the horses in the beginning of the movie.
Family ranch: Custer, S.D.