I made an award-winning documentary film about the Sand Creek Massacre. It won 3 best film festival awards. It was also cataloged into the Smithsonian along with 42 Tribal College Libraries, several colleges and universities and museums. Films Media Group is distributing the film.
The reason I'm telling you this is that through this experience I learned how to communicate with the Cheyenne and Arapaho people. It was a rough and rocky road because I was Caucasian. Because of that, I was not to be trusted. In order for you to be successful with your movie, it is vital that you establish a communication link with the Cheyenne and Arapaho people. It is vital that you show the appropriate respect towards them. Casting any Indian person except Cheyenne and/or Arapaho bears the potential of causing bad publicity down the road. So, be careful. Show respect, respect respect. You should counsel with Cheyenne and Arapaho people before you begin shooting the film. You should bring on board to help you out with the authenticity of the Cheyenne and Arapaho people's involvement before, during and after the massacre. To do anything less will diminish your desire to make a film that is supportive of the Cheyenne and Arapaho people. Cut them short on this, and it will be looked upon as white people making a film about the Sand Creek Massacre to exploit the Cheyenne and Arapaho people.
A tip should you want this. If not, dump it. Watch the movie, "The Gray Line". It stars Steve Buscemi. It is a story about Jews in a concentration camp. It is particularly illuminating when women, children, and men are walking into the gas chambers believing they are going to get showers. Camera closeups "walk" the audience into the gas chambers with the people. It is very compelling. So, if your budget is small, when shooting the massacre, get your cameras right into the middle of the horses, the troops, and the Cheyenne and Arapaho people. Stay with closeups as much as you can. Allow the audience to hear the horses, the heavy breathing of the troops and the Cheyenne and Arapaho people, the fear in all of their eyes. Show the hate in the troops eyes (many of them were drunk after a 40-mile ride in late November during the night from Fort Lyon. Show that! Show the drunkeness. These are some reasons why Silas Soule refused to order his men to unlimber his canon.
Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC
The Zen of Writing & Filmmaking