Tracy Rector, executive director of Longhouse Media, came to Missoula from Seattle for the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival to show off her “Visionary Insight. ”
The half-hour documentary was produced on the set of “Winter in the Blood, ” as the film was made across the Hi-Line last summer. It follows the progress made by Native American interns on the set.
Rector said the idea came from a discussion at last year’s film festival, when Ken White, screenwriter and producer on the film, approached her to discuss the importance in maintaining a strong Native voice in the film.
Ten Native students, from reservations across the country, from Fort Belknap where the film and book take place to the Navajo reservation in Arizona, came to work on the film and learn about the film-making process.
Aside from being extra sets of hands, Rector said, their cultural perspective did help the production. One intern from the Blackfeet reservation, for example, shared his knowledge of how mourning Blackfoot Indians would traditionally wear their hair.
The documentary film follows the interns from the beginning of their days in the Montana State University-Northern dormitories through each of several weeks of 16-hour shooting days, showing how they grew from enthusiasts to professionals.
The importance of such a metamorphasis is also discussed in the film. The film’s star, Chasske Spencer, was one of many involved in the production to lament the lack of real Native presence in films.
“We don’t get many second chances, ” Spencer said in the documentary.
One older Native actress in the film said she had died in the majority of her previous roles, which is exasperating.
Following the documentary screening, Rector said “Visionary Insight” would very likely find its way back to the Hi-Line this year, possibly as soon as the Yellow Bus Film Festival at the end of March.