Local film is gathering awards and attention at film festivals
By Christina Stock
The newest Kate Davis feature-length film, “Cowgirls and Indians,” was supposed to premiere at the Roswell Film Festival earlier this year, but COVID-19 restrictions put the local showing on hold. Instead, Davis sent the film, which is loosely based on a true event, to well-established festivals around the world. Most festivals are now virtual. Soon awards were starting to come in. The latest being Best Feature Film Award at India’s Picasso Einstein Buddha International Film Festival on Sept. 27.
In a phone interview, Davis said that she has high hopes for an award or two at the 2020 Great Lakes International Film Festival, (GLIFF) especially as it is open until Oct. 10 for the public to reward their favorite film with the sought after GLIFF Audience Choice Award.
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The story of “Cowgirls and Indians” follows the experiences of retired cowgirl and rodeo queen, Callie (played by Charlene Adams Upton), who attends the funeral of a former lover on a Native American reservation. There she meets his family, including his widow and sister. What follows is a wild adventure where the audience — and Callie — experience modern-day Native American life and death and ultimately, finding out what happened to her friend and their relationship.
“We started filming in Roswell on Nov. 30 of last year,” Davis said. “We filmed in December and a couple of days in January. We were blessed with beautiful weather, it was absolutely gorgeous. We filmed in Roswell, in Dexter, in the Eastern Plains area and then up in the northern part of Capitan mountain for the forest and fire pit scene at the end. We had a lot of help from local businesses like Sierra Blanca Motors and the airport and also The Salvation Army headquarters where we actually had the funeral, and Anderson Bethany lent us the coffin, too. It was great. We had four Native American actors come from the Albuquerque area and otherwise everybody else was local.”
Davis said this is her second feature-length film. Her first was a motorcycle movie, “Ride ’til You Die,” which is available free of charge on YouTube. Davis came to be a film director and scriptwriter in a roundabout kind of way. “I used to teach out at the university (Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell) and I taught at several other colleges. I taught English, writing and literature and I got interested in films. I had been working out at the college on films and I started volunteering with others that came from out of town. I slowly built a resume, mostly doing either extra work or set design, set decoration, but I’ve done a lot of acting in high school and college, too,” she said.
In this time, she met Donovan Fulkerson of Relicwood Media, who is producer, assistant director, editor and director of photography for “Cowgirls and Indians.”
“That’s how I started,” Davis said. “I had a lot of stories in my head, so I figured I would start writing screenplays and then — we used to have the short film shootout — I did a film, ‘Angels over Roswell,’ about the Roswell crash and then I did “Gas and Go,” about a crazy gas station guy who thinks that aliens are stealing his gas. That was really fun. I won awards for both of those. I did that film called “Bull-E,” it was about 40 minutes long and Jacob Roebuck said, ‘If you make a film that long, why don’t you make it feature-length?’ Because it’s hard for movie houses and TV to schedule weird timed films.”
Asked how she is able to take the time off to make a feature film, Davis said that she renovates houses and has rentals. She put her own investment money into her production company Two Dogs and A Pickup Production. Then there are investors who believe in Davis’ work. Some donate money, others food and sodas. “You got to keep your crew fed because a lot of them are donating their time,” Davis said. “We’ve got to pay for hotels for people from out of town. It was expensive for me, but at the same point, I am very happy with the movie. (“Cowgirls and Indians”) It’s a significantly better-looking film thanks to Donovan because he has a great eye for filming and editing. We paid a man from, of all places, Argentina. Mariano Saulino, he did the score, he composed it. We also used some songs from different writers and bands. Sean Smalls from the radio station played the DJ and so we had actors from Roswell, from Hobbs, from Albuquerque.
Asked how she sees the future of indie films, Davis said, “This is a great time for independent films and small films because companies like Netflix and HULU and Amazon are looking for content. The big studios are not making anything right now. This film, I’ve sent it to contests for distribution and we’ll see if anybody picks it up. It would be great if I could get something like Netflix because not only would I get paid back my investment, I would have seed money for another film.”
The main cast of “Cowgirls and Indians” includes Avu Dahl as Danette, Victoria Moya as “Sista,” Bruce Barta as taxi driver, Boyd Barrett as Dr. Kevin, Bonifacio Gurule as elder, James R. Lay as dancer, William Cass as car salesman, Robin Haynes as mechanic, Steve Bare as State Trooper, Aimee Lueras as niece and Adam Chess as Ironcloud.
Associate producers are Bruce Barta, Virginia Teague, Jim Forrester and Carolyn Rogers. Will Atkinson was second assistant director, Christian Fulkerson did sound and Kolyn Dutton was hired as horse wrangler.
For more information, visit its Facebook page @Cowgirls and Indians, movie. To see the film and vote, visit greatlakesfilmfest.com/2020-film-selections.