The film of Neither Wolf nor Dog needs you

I am not much for begging, and that is how this seems. But you must know that this is the moment that the film of Neither Wolf nor Dog can be made, and this moment will not come again.

Why? Because there is something intangible in the spirit of a Native elder, raised in the old ways with the old language, that cannot be faked, manufactured, created, or approximated. It is something that has to do with a fundamental and prior relationship to a world view and experience that even the most caring and spiritually attuned Native person raised in the modern era speaking English as a first language cannot fully understand. This is just part of the sad cultural reality of what the dominant culture has done to the people who first inhabited this land. I laud and honor and admire the Native people who fight to keep alive a past that America has tried to destroy, but the true elders — those whose very beings are inhabited by the old ways, who see through old eyes and live through the old beliefs and the old language — are passing quickly and will be soon gone.

We have such an elder in 95 year old Dave Bald Eagle, who has graciously agreed to play the role of Dan in the film of Neither Wolf nor Dog. But he will do more than “play” Dan. He will embody him. For he has lived him. He has known his heart and his sorrows. He has witnessed the passing of the ways and carries in his eyes the sadness and quiet acceptance, as well as the twinkle, of the untouchable peace that is at the heart of the Lakota spirit.

Director Steven Lewis Simpson and I, in our various ways and with the help of our Native friends, had spoken with and seen and considered every possible Native actor who could portray Dan.  As I said in the last post, many have passed, and none has been right.  But through good fortune and hard work and, we would like to believe, a bit of providence, we were lead to Dave.

Now we must make this film while he is still with us. It is that simple.

Please help us get this done.  Filming, even at its most stripped down and efficent, is not cheap.  Actors must be brought to the location, fed and housed and paid enough to survive. Cameras must be secured, film must be purchased, editing must be paid for.  Forget payment for those of us who have given our heart to this project:  we are operating on your donations and a dream.

But we believe in this film, just as you have believed in the book. Now we all need to work together to make this happen. Please go to Steven’s kickstarter and be part of this. This project is balancing on a knife edge. Without you, it does not happen. If it does not happen now, it may not happen at all.

10 comments

  1. Linda Vogel says:

    I contributed and posted the original request on my facebook page. i just finished reading Wolf at Twilight–another powerful book full of Native and human truth! May many more become involved in making this happen. Blessings!

  2. Debby Lynn says:

    Hello Kent! I’ve already made my small financial contribution to accompany my large hopes that the film will be made. I’ve loved the book for years, and given several copies as gifts to those I love. My nephew, Scott Simpson, has worked recently with Dave Bald Eagle on an educational project involving the collection of elder wisdom…SD WoLakota. Neither Wolf Nor Dog and Dave Bald Eagle are indeed meant to be together. May it be so.

  3. Bill Dobrenen says:

    It is a joy to support this project. Thank you of the reminder. This movie will be a life changer for many even has the book was to me.

  4. Kirk Knighton says:

    Hello Kent!

    Of Course I will be contributing to this – this weekend, when I get paid, in fact. Though I am wary of a loved and favorite book being adapted into a film – oh how many great books have flopped as movies! – I like what the director had to say; heck, I liked him! Seems like a real good guy. And let’s face it; this film could get the message/story out to a much larger audience than the book by itself ( a sad commentary on how people are reading less and less these days…). A couple of notable exceptions to the rule of good book = bad movie: The novel Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson is a great, great book, and the movie by the same name does it justice. Both book and film are excellent, very moving and memorable. The other one that comes to mind: WP Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe. I read that long before I learned somebody was going to make a movie of it, and I thought the prospect was absurd. And yet the movie Field of Dreams was a huge hit, and deservedly so. Another longtime favorite novel of mine is Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang. Ed wrote that novel in 1975 as a semi-screenplay, hoping somebody in Hollywood would buy the film rights and make the movie. Well somebody did indeed buy the rights when the book was published, and the rights have been renewed every year since. An actual movie has been proposed several times, with various directors and sometimes even a lead actor or two set to go, but it never goes anywhere. And by now I wouldn’t want to see the book on the silver screen! An interesting miss-mash of art and politics when trying to put a movie proposal together, no?

  5. Patt Rall says:

    thanks for the update–have made my pledge and eagerly await the movie

  6. Crystal says:

    I’m on wanblee ,pine ridge SD grew up in Minnesota actually in both states I grew up by the leech lake rez where Dennis banks lives and I’m actually good friends with his nieces went to his 75th bday anyway my grandfathers are chief crazy horse, chief iron white man and chief red cloud … And my grandma is suasn burdeoux Bettelyoun .. Anyway I’d there’s anything I can do let me know .. If u need a extra native winyan .. 🙂

  7. Kirk Knighton says:

    I was just looking at the film’s Kickstarter page and the casting so far…the Dan character looks perfect! But I have one basic question about John Trudell. I have read, listened to and admired John for years and think the world of him. I really do! And I think he will make an excellent Grover – except Grover has a crew-cut, and I can’t imagine John like this! Do you foresee John’s Grover cutting off all his hair, or will the film’s Grover be allowed to keep it?

  8. knerburn says:

    It looks like John may not be doing the role. I don’t want to say more, because this is Steven’s call, and he has to speak about it if he so chooses. But, if John does it, remember Thunderheart. That wasn’t a crewcut, but it was something pretty close.

  9. Belinda Young says:

    Very excited for this motion picture to he made. I am a huge fan of your work and ‘Neither Wolf Nor Dog’ was a great read. So interesting. I hope John Trudell is in the movie; he’s a wonderful character actor. My mom knew him around the time of Alcatraz (Radio Free Alcatraz, etc) as she was one of the protestors on the island for almost two months. She got to spend time with him and told me some of the coolest stories. I think the addition of John to the project will not only be a smart addition of such a talented actor, but it will bring a unique perspective to the story. John’s outlook and stances on culture, nature, and life in general are always thought-provoking and extremely deep. Good luck with the project. I definitely wish I was closer to where you are filming 🙂

  10. Belinda Young says:

    BTW, I think that might have been a good ole Mohawk mullet John was sporting in ‘Thunderheart’ -lol!

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