You have spoken and the results are in. "Horse You See" is the winner of the first-ever PBS Online Film Festival. Meet Ross, a horse from the Navajo reservation. Hear his story and share his thoughts as he explains the very essence of being a horse. Congratulations to filmmakers Melissa Henry and Alfredo Perez and Native American Public Telecommunications (NAPT).
Melissa Henry and Alfredo Perez from Red Ant Films answer questions about their prize-winning film.
What was the inspiration behind ‘Horse You See’?
Alfredo: We made Horse You See through an experimental approach, it wasn't planned out like this from the start. Originally Melissa wanted to paint parts of the horse separately, as a kind of cubist deconstruction of the horse, and write the words in Navajo on the paintings. But then she decided to do it as video instead of paintings, and with video in mind she created some little scenes like the picnic table, or the introduction of the ancestors in the manner that traditional Navajos introduce themselves by naming their clans, and it started to grow into a little movie.
Melissa's dad, Johnnie Henry, is a Navajo medicine man, and he helped us as wrangler, and we asked him to do the voiceover for Ross. When we were with him recording the voiceover he said he could sing us a horse song, so we said go ahead, and it's the song you hear Ross sing. This is not a sacred song but an old Navajo travel song, stuff that people would sing while they rode on horseback, kinda like a road trip singalong, except that here it's sung from the perspective of the horse, and he did it just like that off the top of his head, so it's the horse who sings, not the rider. The song was so cool that we wanted to feature all of it in the video, so then Melissa shot the sequence that goes with it, and we put it together and there it is. It took us 2 years of editing for a few days and then letting it sit there for months and editing a little bit again until we arrived to its final form, and this was because we didn't have an end in mind but rather we worked with the material we had until we were happy with it.
Melissa: I also made the film in what was my childhood playground, so the movie couldn't be done anywhere else. This is where I'm from and this is where I started making stories.