More from the director
I n 2014 the CTV current events show that I worked on for over a decade was cancelled. In truth, the job had lost it’s magic for me. But far more important, I now had no excuses for not taking a determined stab at the career that I had been dreaming, scheming and talking about since I was a teenager — I wanted to be a feature film, writer / director. It was now or never. So I dove in head first. I began writing scripts and taking courses in film directing. I wrote my fair share of scripts but nobody was interested in them. I was perplexed and discouraged, then one day it hit me, the one thing these scripts had in common is that they are not about me or my personal experience.
The other side of the rez
A lthough a comedy at heart, Indian Road Trip has many sides. One of the main themes has to do with the agonizing decision many young people struggle with, “Do I stay or do I leave the Rez.” Is there someplace better than my home? A place that is more exciting, and with more interesting and better-looking people? What thrills lie waiting on the other side of the mountain, out on the highway, or in the big city? And just as importantly; what am I leaving behind? This quandary is especially relevant for First Nations young people who are born onto isolated reserves and who struggle daily with high employment, lack of opportunity and any number of social injustices.
The spirit world
Y et, they have a strong connection to their people, their culture and to the land on which their ancestors lived and died. Another side of the film reflects a supernatural or Magic Realism component. When I was growing up the Spirit World was close by and not a thing to be frightened of or avoided. I wanted to give the audience that same feeling in Indian Road Trip. I worked to integrate all these components into one seamless narrative that entertains audiences from the opening image to the final credit roll, and also introduces them a new way of looking at First Nation people and their lives.
Hank and Cody
O n the Rez, the unemployment rate is a dismal 70%. The young people whisper to each other that if you don’t move off by the time your twenty-one, you’ll end up a, “Rez Lifer.” That means babies, bingo, welfare, and never leaving. Becoming a Rez Lifer is our hero, HANK CROW-EYES greatest fear. Hank and Cody are cousins, best friends and partners in crime, and even though they enjoy, ‘Rockstar” status on the Rez they’re ready to hit the road. These two are a little Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Dance Kid, a little Vincent Vaga and Jules Winnfield, (Pulp Fiction), and a lot Harold and Kumar. Hank is smart, determined and cool under pressure. CODY is fun loving and untroubled. They’re gutsy, reckless, and even a bit desperate. They have the car, a blue convertible named Charlene, and they have a destination, Wreck Beach — the internationally famous nude beach in Vancouver.
T he only hitch in their escape plan is the fact that they are short on cash for their road-trip. When they get caught scamming white tourists, their punishment is to drive a surly elder that nobody likes, HETTA YELLOW-FLY, (73) across the reserve for a final visit with her long estranged, and apparently dying sister, Bertha. Hetta will not ride in a car that’s moving faster then 10 kilometres an hour so not only do Hank and Cody have to endure the mind numbing frustration of driving so slow that kids on bikes are passing them, but a number of weird and supernatural encounters slow the group down. These include a ghostly solider, a gang of angry girls, a mean Band councillor and his flunky nephew, and a haunted forest. Quirky characters pop-up through-out the story, these include, Precious, Hanks entrepreneurial little sister, and a trickster like character named Casper Many-Words who is played by the acclaimed actor Adam Evans.