Oklahoma has become a hotbed for filming movies and TV shows, and many recently have Native American casts and themes.
There are also many efforts underway here to increase Native American representation in the entertainment arts.
Here are some of those film and music projects to watch for in the coming months:
Season two of ‘Reservation Dogs’ arriving in August
Season two of the shot-in-Oklahoma series “Reservation Dogs” will premiere Aug. 3 on FX on Hulu.
“Reservation Dogs,” co-created by Tulsa filmmaker Sterlin Harjo, is a critically acclaimed and groundbreaking series that features an all-Indigenous cast and creative squad.
Season one’s eight episodes followed four Indigenous youths as they plotted to escape the modern-day reservation and travel to California following the death of a friend. Season one was shot primarily in Okmulgee.
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Devery Jacobs, who plays Elora Danan in “Reservation Dogs,” will be in the cast of Marvel’s upcoming “Echo” series, a spin-off from 2021’s “Hawkeye” series.
Sterlin Harjo supporting Indigenous creators
Eight finalists for The Indigenous List were announced in May by IllumiNative, The Black List and the Sundance Institute.
The Indigenous screenwriters represent the best and most promising Native creatives in the film and television industry, and they will have an opportunity to meet Indigenous creators, including Tulsa’s Sterlin Harjo, who have first-look and/or development deals at major studies.
Harjo is the showrunner and co-creator of the shot-in-Oklahoma series “Reservation Dogs,” which debuted last year on FX on Hulu.
The Indigenous List was launched in 2020 to provide a platform for Indigenous writers to showcase their scripts, create additional pathways and opportunities within the industry and to support the development of the next generation of screenwriters. Among finalists is Kathryn Machi, who is Cherokee.
‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ on way
“Killers of the Flower Moon,” a shot-in-Oklahoma Martin Scorsese film adaptation of David Grann’s bestselling book, is expected to arrive in theaters late this year.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro are among stars of “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Shooting took place in Pawhuska and other Oklahoma locations in 2021. The “Killers of the Flower Moon” crew returned to Oklahoma to shoot additional footage in May.
“Killers of the Flower Moon” tells the story of the serial murders that were part of the Osage “Reign of Terror.”
Cherokee language album release set for Labor Day
Horton Records partnered with Cherokee filmmaker and creator Jeremy Charles for a compilation album of original songs performed in the Cherokee language.
The album features 12 Cherokee artists performing material from myriad genres, including folk/Americana, country, pop, heavy metal, hip hop and even reggae. The album is expected to be released in time for the 2022 Cherokee National Holiday over Labor Day weekend.
Ideally, the forthcoming album will be a gateway to the Cherokee language for young music consumers and listeners of all ages. Fewer than 2,000 fluent speakers of the Cherokee language remain.
The album will be titled “ᎠᏅᏛᏁᎵᏍᎩ” (“Anvdvnelisgi,” pronounced Ah Nuh Duh Nay Lees Gi) and translates to “Performers” in English.
“A lot of people are going to hear the Cherokee language in a new context for the first time,” Jeremy Charles said at a press conference announcing the album. “I hope ‘ᎠᏅᏛᏁᎵᏍᎩ’ will spark an inspiration for Cherokee citizens and artists alike. I imagine people singing along as they blast the album in the car, reading along with the lyrics with their headphones on, and it reinforces that being Cherokee is special, and it’s cool. And I hope projects like this will contribute to the Cherokee Nation’s expansive efforts to preserve the language into the future.”
Funding for the album was provided by the Zarrow Families Foundation Commemoration Fund.
Cherokee Nation Film Office bringing more Natives to television
The Cherokee Nation Film Office recently partnered with Green Pastures Studio and SeriesFest to present the Season 8 Storytellers Initiative, specifically aimed at increasing Native representation within the television industry.
The annual competition offers writers the opportunity to submit a pilot script, participate in a writing workshop with industry experts and a live read with professional actors, as well as secure a yearlong development deal with the winning script. In an ongoing effort to address the need for more Natives on and off screen, this year’s winning submission must include a Native American screenwriter or actor.
“Since the beginning of television, film and traditional media, Native Americans have been grossly underrepresented and currently comprise less than 1% of these industries,” said Jennifer Loren, director of the Cherokee Nation Film Office and Original Content. “The Cherokee Nation and our incredible partners, such as those who joined us at SeriesFest, are doing our part to create more opportunities for proper representation and accurate portrayals of Natives in television and film.”
The winning artist(s) will have the opportunity for an exclusive development deal and commitment from Green Pastures Studios to finance and produce the pilot episode in Oklahoma.
Key entry dates and fees: Early bird $40, Jul 15; regular $45, Aug. 19; late $65, Sep 16.
Tulsa World Magazine summer edition