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Native Filmmakers, Here’s Everything You Need to Know About the Sundance Institute Full Circle Fellowship

Native Program

Sundance Institute’s Full Circle Fellowship, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, aims to elevate young Native filmmakers to more competitive ranks in what is often considered a homogeneous and privileged realm of content creation. The Native Program has supported three generations of Native artists, and through Full Circle the next generation will receive unprecedented support and opportunities for career sustainability. Below, learn more about the fellowship, its associated outreach, and get to know this year’s four Fellows and their artistic journeys.


Every year, Sundance Institute selects four fellows for the Full Circle Fellowship. The fellows are given the change to attend the Sundance Film Festival, participate in a screening program, and take part in filmmaker discussions, panels, and workshops. The year’s activities also includes workshops on career sustainability with the First Peoples Fund.

Fellows also get the opportunity to participate in the Seattle Film Festival’s Indigenous media lab, 4th World, a comprehensive training program for Indigenous media makers and emerging talent, in addition to interning with Sundance Institute’s Indigenous program, supporting the production of two short films.



    How did you become interested in filmmaking?

    I became interested in filmmaking as soon as I found a camera in my hands. Ever since then I have been pushing myself to find different ways of looking at and manipulating the perceivable world because that is all film and photography is. Visual manipulation. It really has been exciting for me and seeing all of the opportunities it has opened up for me personally has been a blessing. Now I can’t see myself anywhere except behind the lens of a camera.

    Can your provide a brief background on your journey as an artist?

    I’m 16 now and I’ve been working on bettering every aspect of myself since day one. I have been making films since I was 11 or 12—not good ones, but films nevertheless. I had started acting around the same time and had fallen in love with playing characters as well as learning social interaction. I believe I have worked hard, and it really has paid off. Now I’m working alongside an Oscar-winning director and cinematographer and have learned from them every day. I’m working on my own films and hope to break into festivals this coming October.

    Who is your favorite filmmaker or native artist?

    My favorite filmmaker always has to me Mr. Stanley Kubrick. He is a master of filmmaking. I don’t really need to say why, just go out and watch his films.


    How did you become interested in filmmaking?

    When I was 12, I got a small camcorder for Christmas. I used it to record my friends and I skateboarding and quickly became really interested in video. For the next few years, I focused mainly on filming skateboarding. After attending a few camps and learning new techniques I started to branch out more and started telling stories with a few friends through film. After a few videos we started gaining support from our community and I was given an opportunity to make a documentary for the museum on our reservation. During this documentary is when I really developed a passion for filmmaking and wanted to go somewhere with it.

    Can you provide a brief background on your journey as an artist?

    I mainly followed my friends skateboarding around with a camera the first few years when I was getting into film. The short documentary that I made for my tribe’s museum was the first time I made an effort to make a good video. After that I continued to focus on filming skateboarding and making short skate videos to share with my friends. This past year I was offered an internship at the boarding school that I attended for high school. This internship allowed me to follow the skateboarding program and document their travels and day-to-day activities. After my internship ended I was offered to work with the schools summer camp as the head skateboarding videographer this coming summer.

    Who is your favorite filmmaker or native artist?

    I can’t pick one favorite filmmaker but I can narrow it down to three people: Jon Minor, Ty Evens, and Jason Hernandez. They are all skateboarding filmmakers and I have been following them since I started skateboarding. I really like the different ways that they capture skateboarding with a camera. They all have a very unique style and make watching skateboarding very entertaining.


    How did you become interested in filmmaking?

    I became interested in filmmaking when I was 13. We were doing an art festival at our school and we didn’t have any entries in film and the coordinator asked people to volunteer and make a film. I stepped up to the plate and took the challenge to make a three-minute short film in two days. Back then, I didn’t know a single thing about filmmaking and its principles, so I found a book on making short films and did my studying.

    My first short film was about a Native American superhero named Tatanka Girl, I wrote, acted, and directed it myself, posted it on YouTube and played it for my school. I was afraid what people were going to say because it was poorly edited and the storyline was so basic. I was proven wrong when I heard students of all ages laughing at my film and smiling at the puns. Since then I made it a mission to become a filmmaker and to make the world smile at films. Filmmaking has always been a part of me and I have always wanted to make films.

    Can your provide a brief background on your journey as an artist?

    My background as an artist has an interesting mix of mediums. I am a spoken-word poet as well as a creative fiction writer, and I’ve been performing since I was 13. I’ve been dancing powwows as a Southern traditional cloth dancer since I was a toddler, and I proudly carry that tradition of dancing today. I remember when I was starting high school I was afraid of not having an art medium so I experimented with different forms of art such as writing and eventually glass blowing. I then realized if I mixed the two of them together, I would get film. I started to write screenplays and attended workshops to improve them and I worked on different sets, including Drunktown’s Finest and began to take filmmaking seriously as a profession. Today, I am attending the Academy of Art University in San Francisco as a Motion Picture and Television Directing major.

    Who’s your favorite filmmaker or Native artist?

    My favorite filmmaker is probably Taika Waititi because he’s hilarious, contemporary, and his films are genius!


    How did you become interested in filmmaking?

    I was always interested in different forms of media (photography/journalism) and I also enjoyed performing arts in high school. Performing on stage and getting into spoken word poetry was incredibly inspiring. I think the most memorable moment was performing at the Lensic in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was able to meet different cinematographers and production members at the Lensic. Of course, journalism is still an interest of mine but I am also passionate about film production.

    Can your provide a brief background on your journey as an artist?

    I can say my journey started with creative writing, short stories, film photography, experimenting, and a lot of reading of How-To books. My mother used to have a dark room and take photographs and it seemed more of a hobby for her, and I started enjoying it myself. I owned a Pentax Spotmatic and I had to teach myself how to use it. I had a lot of incredible mentors in high school and moved onto digital photography and performing my creative writing pieces. I feel all of these different art mediums needed to mesh and fit well for myself to be happy with what I create, and filmmaking can be flexible to do just that.

    Who’s your favorite filmmaker or Native artist?

    I haven’t necessarily found an influential filmmaker yet, but I am inspired by different Native artists. I feel so lucky to be in New Mexico and see different pieces. Recently, I saw a mixed media sculpture at the IAIA museum called “Not Afraid to Look” by Charles Rencountre. I’m also a fan of young artists who bring art and community activism together, such as Warren Montoya who is the founder of an artist collective called Rezonate.


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    A man in a beige shirt and with medium-length dark hair kneels in the dirt and looks over his right shoulder at the camera

    Who Was… Mark Silverman?

    Mark Silverman allied himself with the Coen brothers early in his and their careers. Here, he works as co-producer on the set of “Raising Arizona.”

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