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“The Collaboration Process Is What Makes Filmmaking Feel Like Home”: Anpa’o Locke on Sundance Native Lab 2022

Sundance Native Lab 2022 fellow Anpa'o LockeSundance Native Lab 2022 fellow Anpa'o Locke

With the Sundance Native Lab having returned to a (hybrid) in-person model for the first time in two years, Filmmaker asked 2022 fellows to reflect on their recent experiences through short diary entries. Read the rest of the 2022 cohort’s responses

Before the fellowship, I was feeling anxious. It’s a new environment with new people, cool people. I consider myself introverted, and thus out of my comfort zone. I was still in disbelief that I got chosen for the Full Circle Fellowship; I couldn’t believe that people would want to listen to me. I wasn’t sure of my voice as an artist.

But that completely changed after being in a community with other Indigenous filmmakers. The Native Lab was two weeks long. The first week was virtual—on Zoom—and the second in-person. It was great having the Zoom calls and sensing a connection with the other participants, even virtually. But being in-person and feeling the energy and a sense of community that I couldn’t experience after the pandemic was transformative. It was familiar and foreign, yet so needed and healing. The interpersonal relationships and community building in film spaces drive me to create. The collaboration process is what makes filmmaking feel like home.

We were doing cold readings of the Native Lab Fellows: Justin Ducharme, Taietsarón:sere ‘Tai’ Leclaire, Daniel Pewewardy, Tiare Ribeaux and Tim Worrall. The Indigenous perspective in everyone’s script was thrilling. The fellows created nuanced and complex characters interrogated thoughtfully. It was refreshing to see our stories in screenwriting. I could see my parents/cousins/aunties/uncles/grandparents in their work. I saw myself. The feedback on each individual’s work was also beneficial for me, as it was advice that could be applied widely.

What I appreciated most about this fellowship was that the Full Circle and Native Lab participants are intergenerational, and those relationships I made are similar to those I have within my own Indigenous community. It was beautiful to have older mentors and peers to learn and grow from.

My favorite day was the Joan Tewkesbury workshop. She came in and completely shifted my perspective and understanding of my craft. It made me realize there is a sense of healing in channeling pain and discomfort into something beautiful. I reached into certain aspects of my life that I didn’t want to address, but I realized that these memories/events can be fuel to create something good. It shifted my artistic process as a filmmaker.

I came into this fellowship not knowing who I was as an artist, but I am sure of myself now. I’m really thankful to the team for allowing me to be in a space where I can be seen and visible to others and understood.

Follow Anpa’o Locke @indigebaddie on Twitter, @anpa.o on Instagram

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