A still from Navajo filmmaker Ramona Emerson’s short film ‘Opal.’
Ramona Emerson is a Navajo filmmaker from Tohatchi, New Mexico. She participated in the 2010 Sundance Institute Native Filmmakers Lab with her project Opal, and is now using Kickstarter to fund the final stages of the film’s production.
Opal has been a journey. Not only from my brain to paper, but from the humble and shaky 40-pager to the 10-page opus. From the Native Lab in Mescalero, New Mexico, to Park City, Utah. From envisioning the film through storyboards to watching my two actresses through our production monitor. I’m so glad I am able to share all of it with the world as we work our way through our Kickstarter campaign and try to finish our film.
I knew at a very young age that I wanted to make films, and somehow I have managed to keep at it for many years. But the ability to transfer those early memories on the reservation of going to the movies with my grandmother to the actual reality of making films has been a dream come true.
From memories of my dangling tennis shoes above the soda-covered theater floors to the flickering lights of the movies dancing on my grandmother’s face: films have been a very personal and present part of my life. Opal is a reflection of that and of the personal stories I love to tell. My hope is to create a story that reflects a very true representation of what it’s like to grow up on the Navajo reservation, but more importantly questions the roles of women and girls both on and off the reservation.
Opal is, on the surface, a tale about a young Navajo girl who takes on the town bully. But she is so much more than that. She is the symbol of the movement of young girls who refuse to take no for an answer and refuse to conform to the restraints of modern society. This story is as important as it is personal—and if you know me, you know it will get done somehow.
At this point we have done a lot to make this film happen: we’ve scouted locations, gathered a talented cast, managed to shoot some of our interiors and key “cruising” scenes, and got a trailer made. Another two days and we will complete all the scenes needed to finish the film. Wow! You should see what I see on my monitors. These actors light up the screen, the landscape is beautiful—our New Mexico light is not letting us down. I cannot wait to begin shooting again and sharing everything in my head with all of you. It is happening!
As of today, we are halfway through our Kickstarter campaign and we still have not reached our goal. But we steadily push through each day with support from not only friends and family, but from people whom we have never met. For this, we are truly amazed and humbled by their belief in the story that we are trying to tell.
Thank you a million times over to each and every supporter we have. And this includes all of our friends in the local film industry who have worked for free and donated their time and creative energy to help get this story told. Thanks to our fellow filmmakers who helped us and suffered in the heat and believed in us. Thank you also goes out to our friends and supporters online who have helped spread the word. I am proud to be part of such a supportive community of artists.
But we still need your help. We have about 12 days left on the campaign. Please help spread the word and get Opal on the big screen. She’s tough, she’s awesome, and she needs to be heard.