How to Film in the Face of Opposition
Here's how pepper spray, rubber bullets, and water cannons threatened cinematic filmmaking on the frontlines.
To make Akicita: the Battle of Standing Rock, filmmaker Cody Lucich spent eight months embedded with protestors of the Dakota Access Pipeline, creating a visually stunning portrait of civil disobedience in the face a militarized police force. Here's a glimpse of some of the footage captured by Lucich at Standing Rock that would eventually be incorporated into the feature doc.
A first-time feature filmmaker with commercial credits, Lucich was constantly concerned that at any moment, footage he shot during Standing Rock would be confiscated. Not only would that lose him irreplaceable moments of the story, but worse, it risked exposing identities of the Native activists to the authorities. So, after filming, he immediately buried his harddrives! After burying his footage in the field, post-production found Lucich buried in footage.
Cody Lucich and producer Ginger Shankar, who you may know from her prolific music career, sat down with No Film School after the first rough cut screening of at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, and in our podcast they talk about filming in rough conditions, using cinematic techniques in documentary, and piecing a story together from hundreds of hours of footage. Here's another teaser of some of his stylized cinematography from the field:
Akicita: the Battle of Standing Rock is the only Native-made feature film to come out of Standing Rock (Lucich hails from the Maidu tribe of Northern California) and gives viewers an intimate chronicle of the day-to-day decision making of the Water Protectors, the leaders of the movement. At times it's inspiring, frightening, or just downright chaotic, the film embodies the realities of an uprising unfolding as it happens. If you've ever considered filming something, and wondered what it takes, this conversation will lay out the risks and complexities of this kind of project, and why it's still worth it.
Check out the official site for Akicita: the Battle of Standing Rock for updates and to keep an eye out on when the film gets a release date.
Listen to the episode by streaming or downloading from the embedded player above, or find it on iTunes here.