Month: August 2014
There are many balancing acts involved in the filming of Neither Wolf nor Dog, but none more crucial and precarious than finding the right actor to play Dan. Of course, his namesake, Chief Dan George, would have been great. Floyd Westerman, too, had the combination of a distant, withdrawn wisdom and an irrepressible twinkle. He and I had even talked about the role. But, sadly, he passed. The same is true of Gordon Tootoosis who would have brought a different feel to the role. Augie Schellenberg desperately wanted to play the role, calling it “the role of a lifetime,” but he, too, passed, and may have been too steeped in his Shakespearean roots to have done it justice. But a good actor can play almost any role, and he was a superb actor. He and I had spoken at length about it, but time caught up with him, as well.
But perhaps these deaths, both timely and untimely, opened the door for the ideal actor, who director Steven Simpson and I found while scouring the depths and margins of the Native acting community. Dave Bald Eagle, with whom Steven has become good friends, almost seems to be Dan to me. He has the twinkle, he has the wisdom, he has the legacy of a long life well lived written in every line in his face. And he exudes a kindness that comes from his very spirit.
We must now hope that time and circumstance will allow us to take advantage of his 95 years of life to bring the character of Dan to life on the screen. Please go to Steven’s kickstarter for the film to get a glimpse of Dave, or look him up on youtube. If, indeed, this film was meant to be made, I believe it was meant to be made with Dave as the presence of Dan.
Please help the kickstarter if you can. We have a moment in time with an actor who is more than an actor, he is a Lakota presence who carries the incredible complexity and richness of his people’s cultural experience in every expression and gesture.
This is our chance. This is the book’s chance. This is the journey we have all wanted to take.
Well, it appears that it is finally going to happen. Steven Simpson, the director who has put so much of his time and heart, as well as his aesthetic sense, into the shaping of this film, is preparing to shoot Neither Wolf nor Dog this fall.
The most exciting and fragile aspect of this project is the discovery of the perfect actor to play Dan. Steven and I anguished over this for many months, considering all options. But when we happened upon Dave Bald Eagle, we knew we had the perfect actor. He IS Dan, and Steven has developed a close friendship with him over the last year or two.
With the addition of John Trudell to play Grover, Steven has a dream core cast. John has the intelligence and edge to carry the character of Grover to an unexpected, incredibly dynamic place.
Steven’s connections in Indian country will allow him to fill out the cast brilliantly. And, as you will see if you look at his kickstarter page, he has a feel for the land that is absolutely essential to making this an authentic piece.
That is where so many Native films fall down: they use the land as a backdrop, not as a living force and character. Steven understands this.
I am thrilled to see him moving forward on this project that is so dear to my heart, and I ask any of you who love this book to go to his kickstarter page and contribute in any way you can. This could be a beautiful, groundbreaking film. Please help make it happen: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/126766071/neither-wolf-nor-dog-movie-adaptation