Home News Vision More than a short film, more than a film director

More than a short film, more than a film director

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Art by Joshua Zunie Before the cameras roll, a director uses story boards and concept art to visualise the scenes before starting to film with real live actors. The film "Rude Girl" is a live action film, not an animation.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

‘Rude Girl’ to be filmed in New Mexico featuring a Native American woman as superhero

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

The short film, “Rude Girl,” is being filmed in Albuquerque throughout October. The film’s story is as old as time itself: good against evil, the never ending battle. However, in “Rude Girl,” this battle is told in a uniquely different way.

Its director and writer Joshua Zunie (“Bad Boys for Life,” “The Kid,” “Better Call Saul,” “From Dusk Till Dawn” and “Independence Day: Resurgence”) was born and raised in Zuni, surrounded by the traditions in art and culture that go back thousands of years. He is representing the new generation of Native Americans and their movement to bring authentic stories and culture to the previously one-dimensional film genre featuring Native American stereotypes.

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In a phone interview, Zunie talked about his background, style and plans for his film.

“I wanted to separate myself from what has already been done,” he said. “We’ve seen it all, since they started way back in the day. We’ve seen the genres; we’ve seen how Native Americans are portrayed in Hollywood movies and in our own Native cinema movies. Me, I wanted to go direct opposite as far as my directing style, but still keep true to me as a person. I like action. I like drama, cool special effects. That is for me as a director. As a writer, I like heartfelt stories. In the ‘Rude Girl,’ the character is born and raised into nothing and thrown into a situation where they become something at the end. With that storyline, with triumph and courage and hope, coming from nothing and building that character up to (a) superhero, it goes through the whole range as a storyteller and that’s what I wanted to achieve.”

Asked how he came to be a writer and film director, Zunie said, “That’s a really great question. I could go on for days. I was born and raised in Zuni, New Mexico. This tribe is known for storytelling. It’s in the blood. My ancestors did it, generation after generation. I want to pick up from there and tell stories in my own way.

“So literally, it started from there. I did go to Chapman University for film school in Orange County (California). That was back in 2006. Around 2008, after graduation, I started in the industry — the hardest year, because the financial crisis happened. I was seeking a job and I finally got one, as NBC page assistant,” Zunie said.

Zunie said that the NBCUniversal Page Program is well known on the East and West Coasts. It is a rotational learning and development program nurturing talents in the media industry. After Zunie graduated from the program, he said that he got his first job as office production assistant for the TV series “Law and Order, Los Angeles.”

“From there I started working my way up, but really, stuck to writing every day, every year, perfecting my writing skills, not telling anyone that I am writing, but to build my writing confidence. I did that for a year until I came up with this cool story idea, ‘Rude Girl,’” he said.

Zunie doesn’t want to give too much of the storyline away. In the press release it reads, “‘Rude Girl,’ starring Shawnee Pourier (‘Seeds’), David Midthunder (‘West World,’ ‘Woman Walks Ahead,’ ‘Hostiles,’ ‘Longmire’), Joshua Horton (‘Army of the Dead,’ ‘Better Call Saul,’ ‘Day Break’), Zachary Wade, and Jayde Martinez (‘Flamin’ Hot,’ ‘Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar’), is the story of a half-Native American and half-white teenager dealing with identity issues who visits her grandpa Lee in the spiritual world, only to realize she is a superhero.”

A female Native American superhero is a unique concept. Asked who inspired him to go this direction, Zunie said, “Back at home, I was raised by my aunties and my grandma on my mother’s side. A lot of women raised me, and I felt that it was such a very good childhood upbringing because they cared about me. They were always there for me. Traditionally, in the Native American community, a lot of grandparents and a lot of kids these days are raised by grandparents for whatever reasons. So I was one of those kids back in the day.”

Zunie said that his insights and experiences in the media industry inspired his project.

“There is a lack of diversity among the key roles as producer, writer, director, actors. And, more importantly, there is a lack of gender equality going on,” he said.

Zunie said that he was following the developments and movements, including the recent wave of superhero movies.

“They have different stories, but they look pretty much the same as far as cast and the details of visual effects. Where do I go with all that information that’s given to me? Where do I set my stake in the ground and let it be known that these are the stories that I want to do as director, writer, producer,” Zunie said.

He gave the lead to Pourier, who is Lakota and Native American. “I felt that was the right timing and definitely a very impactful message to send at the right moment. And that’s when I came up with just that general concept. I have to put a female lead, a Native American, in this type of genre, (the) superhero genre. The premise socially is to rebrand and bring up a heroic image of a current Native American. And that’s all I wanted to do,” Zunie said.

Postproduction is planned for November, finishing by early January at the latest, to have the film ready to send out to the various film festivals. Zunie said he is planning to send it to the Roswell SciFi Film Fest as well.

To follow when and where the film will be available, Zunie said to follow either him or the individual actors on Instagram.

Zunie said, “We also want to give the viewers, the moviegoers, a chance to experience the whole story in the movie theater across the world at film festivals, and, eventually, this will become a feature film so the whole world can see it.

“I want to give a big shoutout to the Native American community out there in Indian Country, not to give up hope and to dream big for all your golden apparitions,” Zunie said.

Fellow producers include John Ward (“Messiah,” “Bluff City Law,” “Monsters of God,” “Jane Got a Gun” and “The Condemned 2”), Jhane Myers (“Skulls-Predator 5,” “The Wilds,” “Monsters of God,” “Wind River, “The Magnificent Seven” and “Apocalypto”), B.A. Carter, Marisa Page and Kelsey Landon (“Ember, “Debt Men,” “Dying Breed” and “Crystal Pines”).

The New Mexico Film Office and the Sen. John Pinto Native Filmmakers Fund have been supporters in making the film. According to the New Mexico Film Office, the production will employ approximately 40 New Mexico crew members, including the principal actors, as well as New Mexico background extras.

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