American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 72

Filmmakers' Forum

Drug dealer Shot-Z (Wambli Mills) realizes the monster he's become in the student film Destiny, written and shot by participants of the
Films by Youth Inside (FYI) Ute Mountain immersive cinema workshop.

I

Stories From the Ute Mountain Youth
By Steve J. Roberts

Having grown up in the gray doldrums of Detroit, I have a
great appreciation for the bright desert Southwest, home to some
of the most breathtaking vistas and majestic skyscapes on Earth.
My first desert adventure was in 2002, filming commercials for
Marlboro around Moab, Utah. The air was blast-furnace hot, the
sun was unforgiving, the sand fleas were formidable, and fine
dust got into absolutely everything. Over the past few years I have
filmed on multiple Indian reservations, and happily some of these
projects have taken me back to the Southwest.
In spring 2015, I was cinematographer on a series of PSAs
for the Native American Rights Fund in partnership with
Comcast/NBCUniversal and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. The Ute
Mountain Ute Reservation spans more than 1,000 square miles of
rugged, mountainous lands in southwestern Colorado. It's near
the picturesque Four Corners region and bordered by iconic landmarks - Shiprock to the south, the sacred Ute Mountain to the
west and Mesa Verde National Park to the east. Filming for the
PSAs took place in and around the reservation capital town of
Towaoc.
The PSA production would lead to another Towaoc-based
project, and one that has been among the most rewarding I've
been part of. A month after the PSAs wrapped, I received a call
from director Alex Muñoz asking if I would serve as director of
photography for a new project called FYI Ute Mountain Youth.
72

November 2016

Muñoz contacted me based on a request from Waylon Plenty
Holes, a Ute Mountain tribal member I'd worked with on the
PSAs. After learning about Muñoz's Los Angeles-based nonprofit,
Films by Youth Inside (FYI), I didn't hesitate to get on board. FYI
conducts immersive cinema workshops for groups of troubled
and incarcerated youth. The program aims to help participants
find their voices and develop skills that can be applied to all areas
of life. Program participants learn the basics of screenwriting and
filmmaking from industry professionals, and create short films
that express themes from their own lives.
Drawing From the Oral Storytelling Tradition
I asked Muñoz, whose father is indigenous, if he thought
these young participants who share a strong oral tradition might
inherently relate to filmmaking as a modern way of telling stories.
"It's in their DNA to tell stories," Muñoz says. "They just
need to become comfortable with the cameras and the lighting
and the editing. The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe really understands
the power of film as a platform where many people can experience the story. They understand the opportunity this technology
offers to tell their stories and guarantee their perspective and
voice."
During two two-week workshops, one last summer and
one this summer, we worked with program participants who used
motion pictures to explore the things that trouble them mentally,
spiritually, economically and socially. Last year, participants took
on teen suicide, homophobia and bullying through their short

American Cinematographer



American Cinematographer - November 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - November 2016

Contents
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - Intro
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 1
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 2
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - Contents
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 4
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 5
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 6
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 7
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 8
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 9
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 10
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 11
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 12
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 13
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 14
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 15
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 16
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 17
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 18
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 19
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 20
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 21
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 22
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 23
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 24
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 25
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 26
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 27
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 28
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 29
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 30
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 31
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 32
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 33
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 34
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 35
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 36
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 37
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 38
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 39
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 40
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 41
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 42
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 43
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 44
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 45
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 46
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 47
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 48
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 49
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 50
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 51
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 52
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 53
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 54
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 55
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 56
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 57
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 58
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 59
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 60
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 61
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 62
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 63
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 64
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 65
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 66
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 67
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 68
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 69
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 70
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 71
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 72
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 73
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 74
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 75
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 76
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 77
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 78
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 79
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 80
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 81
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 82
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 83
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 84
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 85
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 86
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 87
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 88
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - Cover4
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