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Occasional updates from the editing room and out in the field. 

Our Last Refuge

Over the last year, without the aid of one crowdfunding campaign (that’s a big break with tradition for me), I quietly shot and edited a new short documentary film, Our Last Refuge. It tells the tale of how the Blackfeet Nation defended their sacred homeland from oil and gas developers for over 35 years. The fight is ongoing, but it’s had some significant victories and the story is a positive and powerful example of what can happen when people stand together for a greater good.

It was an inspiring project to work on and it’s the most visually beautiful thing I’ve ever done, thanks in large part to my DP Zane Clampett, but mostly due to mother nature and just how damn stunning she can be.

So far, the film has toured Montana, has screened at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, will start its festival run in February, and will be released digitally soon after. You can check out a trailer below and find out more information about the film at www.ourlastrefuge.com

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A Place to Stand's Wide Release

A few days ago, Friday June 17th, A Place to Stand was released on iTunes for the world to see and buy. Over the coming weeks, it will also become available at 20 other digital outlets. As I've written before, it's strange and surreal to have something so personal get released into the ether for strangers to watch and judge and hopefully enjoy. It's a lot like letting the bird fly from the nest. We did what we could to nurture it, make it strong and healthy, and now it's up to the film to go out there and do what it's going to do. We have very little control on what happens next. 

It's a bit scary and vulnerable, but it's mostly exciting. It would be an understatement to say that I have travel-fatigue from all the miles we've ran on this project, but I'm also very happy with how the film turned out and the extremely positive responses that we've received so far. I do hope that the film continues to connect with the populations who we made it for - the neglected, the abused, the convicted, and the suffering. Of course, I also hope it reaches a general audience like Jimmy's book did. 

Making this film has been such an adventure, from the early days above, filming Jimmy at the Rio Grande acequias, to traveling all four corners of the US, conducting interviews at Disney World, spending time with the upper crust and the lower crust of American society - the famous, the criminal, the powerful, the poor. This adventure put us in contact with all of it and I grew tremendously from the experience. It wasn't easy - making A Place to Stand was the biggest challenge of my life so far - but the fruits have been beyond what I could have hoped for. 

My prayer and wish is now that the film gives to others a fraction of what it gave to me. 

(You can check out A Place to Stand here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/a-place-to-stand/id1109110672)

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A Place to Stand's Theatrical Campaign

It's a strange thing to work on a film for years and years and then suddenly it's out there in the world. People spend 80 minutes of their lives watching something you created - they have their own opinions, reaction, thoughts and interpretations. They don't know who you are - you're the invisible hand behind the curtain - but they're connected to you. You have just given them a piece of yourselves, etched in visuals crafted with blood, tears and love. 

The responses to the film have been amazing, more than what I hoped for. I knew Jimmy Santiago Baca's story has impacted tens of thousands of people, if not more, but when you start to make a movie, you don't know how it will turn out. You don't know if it will "work". Luckily, it seems like this one does. Not that it's perfect - no way, I have so much more to learn about filmmaking, editing, shooting, writing, all of it - but it touches people, it leaves a mark, and I give thanks to God for that. It certainly wasn't my doing. It was grace and creating the space for Jimmy to work his magic. 

I don't know how our theatrical campaign will go - this is unknown territory and we're all learning as we go - but I give thanks for every screening that happens. Each and every one is an incredible opportunity, a blessing, and damned hard work. I'm not taking it for granted. 

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