Native Youth Leadership Alliance

(Jesse Shortbull) Lights! Camera! Action! Movie Time in South Dakota

I had the recent opportunity to go on an awesome adventure in my own backyard of western South Dakota. This adventure was watching a short film that I co-wrote and co-produced coming to life right before my very eyes. From the page to production I saw every aspect of a story coming to life. Believe me its an awesome sight to see.  However nothing was more exciting than being able to share making a movie with the people that mean the most to me. My only regret is I wished I could have shared it with more.

The movie is titled “To Rest” and is a short film that will be 8 minutes long. Now compared to the  big time block busters of Hollywood with mega-lo-million dollar budgets ours is modest and humble which suits me just fine as I’m fairly modest and most times humble. (Maybe a tad kooky but lets keep that between you and me, ok.) However I’m really hoping that the theme of the movie comes across and sinks in with the potential viewer.  That theme is forgiveness, plain and simple.

The film features two main characters “Ron” a come and go hardened Lakota man in his mid sixties who is struggling with his tumultous past  and his son “Beau” who is in his late 30’s and struggles with the burden and thankless job of being the ” dependable one” in the family. Beau is a new father himself and he wants to break the cycle but in order to do so he must find a way to forgive his own father first.

We shot in three main locations over the course of two days starting in the communities of Kyle and Interior. Then we onto the sacred “Mato Paha” or Bear Butte just outside of Sturgis, South Dakota. The week prior to the shoot, producer James Chan, director Andres Torres Vives, Producer Kevin Killer, and myself spent most of our time touring locations, figuring out logistics, applying for permits, and anything else in between. It was also during this week that met our lead actors Milo Yellow Hair (Ron) and Scott Means ( Beau) after we pitched our short film project to them. We were also very fortunate to  have roles filled by Barbara Young Bull Bear, Miley Young Bull Bear, and Sue Leach.

Hopefully we can create  enough  interest in this film to create a full length feature or some more short films that we can offer as a series. In addition to talented actors we had an awesome production team who made the magic happen from stunning visuals to superior sound. The California crew consisted  of Maris Curran, Paul de Lumen, Owen Bissell, and Wynn Padula. The South Dakota crew includes former Oglala Lakota College Television Production students Jedadiah Richards, Ladeanne Young Bull Bear and  instuctor Kathleen Aplan. We also had  Beau Smith from Wamblee South Dakota,  as well as the Keith and Tracy from Crow Ridge Productions out of Hill City. The crew that was assembled was fantastic, every single person worked extremely hard and contributed more than what could be paid.

The making of this short film opened my eyes that dreams can be achieved even with the smallest of beginnings. I cannot stress the valuable role NYLA has played helping it all come together. (Which is a story in its own right.) I can proudly say that I gave everything I had to seeing this project completed. I want to see it grow,  I want this to continue and I want to see more people who are interested in making films be able to take part in future endeavors. It was truly a blessing to be able to collaborate with so many people from different parts of the country and it warmed my heart to see my former Oglala Lakota College colleagues get the opportunity to join in the fun.            ( Feature photo courtesy of Kathy Aplan)


See Jesse’s NYLA Profile