BLUE WOOD FILMS GOES NATIVE NEW NARRATIVE FEATURE ON CRAZY HORSE IN DEVELOPMENT BY MICHELLE EVANSTON Guest Columnist
t was early on a Friday morning when the call came in. The caller said it was urgent that a realistic narrative feature on Crazy Horse, the late Lakota Sioux leader and warrior of the 19th century, be produced as quickly as possible. It was the third such call in less than a week and the receiver was starting to feel the pressure growing to get back into production on another film featuring American Indians. The filmmaker being urged to make another film on Crazy Horse was Oliver W. Tuthill Jr., the award-winning writer/director/producer who has made three films to date on American Indians, two of them featuring the Lakota Sioux on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Tuthill is the president of Blue Wood Films LLC. “It has been amazing the good fortune I have had with making films on the Lakota,” Tuthill said after finishing a conference call with a producer in Los Angeles. “I have wanted to return to the Pine Ridge Reservation and the Black Hills of South Dakota, but since the death of Russell Means (Last of the Mohicans, Pathfinder, Natural Born Killers), I lost some of my motivation.” Means, the co-founder of the American Indian Movement, died last year, leaving a huge void. Tuthill has been in communication with his wife, Pearl Means, who is producing along with Bayard Johnson a documentary on Russell’s life (titled Conspiracy to be Free),
WASHINGTON FILM MAGAZINE 2014
Blue Eagle Standing by Oliver W. Tuthill Jr.
directed by Colter Johnson. Tuthill has written and produced a song that will be used in the film featuring Native American Music Award-winning Indian rapper Shadowyze. Two of Tuthill’s most popular DVDs have been his documentaries on Pine Ridge and Crazy Horse. His first, Wounded Heart: Pine Ridge and the Sioux, released in 2005, won numerous awards and is still a steady seller nine years after its initial release. The Native American Journalists Foundation called it “an accurate and compelling portrayal of the struggle to survive on the reservation.” The film is distributed in the United States by Passion River Films and internationally by Entertainment 7. Russell Means narrated the film. He decided to help Tuthill on the documentary after they met at a demonstration on the reservation when Tuthill approached Means and asked him to be in the film. Indian actor and activist Jay Red Hawk (Skins, Deadliest Warrior) is also featured. Tuthill’s most recent documentary on American Indians is Questions for Crazy Horse: Hypothetical Conversations with the Strange Warrior of the Oglala Lakota, which also features Russell Means and Jay Red Hawk. Tim Rhys, publisher of MovieMaker Magazine, called it “an imaginative fearless attempt to help bridge the gap between myth and modern Indian life.” Now Tuthill embarks upon the making of a narrative feature on the life of Crazy Horse, one that he does not take lightly. “Crazy Horse is one of the most significant leaders in the history of the United States,” said Tuthill. “They are building a memorial to him in the Black Hills that was started in 1948. To make a feature that will do this man justice will take a tremendous team effort, and I am now searching for talented producers who would like to form a team to make the best film possible on Crazy Horse.” WF