Vision Maker Media Producers' Conference 2012

Vision Maker Media Producers' Conference 2012

Velma Kee Craig (Navajo) is the co-founder of White Springs Creative, which she runs with her husband and fellow director Dustinn Craig. She enjoys writing poetry and blogs which aim to show the extra sweet and humorous of stay-at-home life.

Dustinn Craig (White Mountain Apache/Navajo) grew up in Arizona, living in White River on the Fort Apache Reservation and later in Window Rock on the Navajo Reservation. As a teenager, Craig began making skateboarding videos of himself and his friends.

Date Posted: 
2012-11-12 15:48

Blog Series:


On September 5th through the 7th, Dustinn Craig and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Vision Maker Media Producers' Conference held in Minneapolis, MN. It is always inspirational to meet and network with other filmmakers, especially Native filmmakers, and to hear about their projects and how they juggle or attempt to juggle their lives and projects.

This current project, The Apache Scouts: an Untold Story, is the largest project our independent film company, White Springs Creative, has undertaken. You can imagine then that it is quite daunting, sometimes. Thank you, Vision Maker Media for knowing this and for working to organize events in which we might gain knowledge that can help us on our path to making a successful feature-length documentary.

We had a full day of information crammed into us on Thursday. It was a lot to sit through, I will admit, but most of it was new to me, so that helped me stay engaged. What I enjoyed most in regards to the presentations happened at the very end of the day when we got to meet two previously funded filmmakers. They shared with us what their films were about and also their experience with the application process and funding.

One of the big things that Dustinn and I have contended with when pondering an application for potential funding through organizations like Vision Maker Media is how to state on paper that our project fits the mold. I don't know how else to say this, but whenever I write something, my audience is always first and foremost Native people. This may be my particular bane, but I am not regularly concerned with an audience outside Native people.

In order for a project to be seen by any audience though, it has to be aired or screened. In order for it to be aired or screened, it has to first be created. If this requires funding, then that requires me/us to cater to or at least say on paper that I/we cater to a more mainstream audience.

When this happens, when we are forced to appease a broader mainstream audience, we’re afraid the content matter of our films has to be made more simplified because now we can’t just shoot our message straight through, we also have to “educate” an unfamiliar audience. When we dumb our content down to satisfy the larger populace, we lose the audience we set out to make our films for in the first place--our Native audience.

What it all comes down to is we got into creating media because we wanted to be a part of working to set right the discrepancy that still prevails--that mainstream media does not/would rather not include Native faces and Native voices. Vision Maker Media does a great thing by trying to work to get us on public television, but we want more “fully-Native” content. It was refreshing to see that the short animated films presented by Adrian Baker (1) were granted funding, (2) diverged from the expected, and (3) retained the literal voices and stories of the Native people interviewed. When this series airs, the audience will be forced to align their perceptions to the content of the film, instead of the backwards previously trodden path in which the filmmaker was forced to align his vision to the watered down expectations of the uninformed audience.

Minneapolis is a magnificent city. We are grateful and happy to have been allowed to be a part of its scenery, if even for only three days.

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