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Diné film mentors coach crop of young film enthusiasts

Diné film mentors coach crop of young film enthusiasts

TWIN LAKES, N.M. – Two Diné film mentors are coaching student filmmakers on the basic and creative approach of digital filmmaking and media production.

Diné film mentors coach crop of young film enthusiasts

Special to the Times | Lee Begaye
Producer Lonnie R. Begaye, director Kymora Sleuth, and producer Loren Anthony look at a camera sequence for the upcoming film, “Hello Grandma.”

Lonnie Begaye and Loren Anthony have been selected as film mentors for Film Prize Junior New Mexico, a short film competition for middle and high school students across the state.

Begaye became a filmmaker after earning a bachelor’s in cinematic arts and technology from the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2021.

“Some of these students didn’t have much experience working with the cameras,” said Begaye, an actor, writer, and filmmaker based out of Chinle.

Begaye said it makes him feel full inside as being a mentor has impacted his life teaching and supporting students to create their films.

Growing up, he only had a few opportunities, like what the Film Prize Junior New Mexico mentorship program offers.

Especially when it came to equipment to produce a film when he was at Chinle High School in 2016.

“My experience to be telling that to students were similar (and relatable),” Begaye said.

Anthony, a natural performer in front of people, made the transition to the film industry easy.

“I started out in the background to now landing lead roles in feature films,” said Anthony. He added it was difficult, especially being Native and rooted in traditional culture.

At a time in his film career, he walked off set during one of Adam Sandler’s movies, “Ridiculous Six,” in 2015 because of the negative portrayal and disrespect to Native people.

“I’ll never sell out. I have my elders, community, and now, these kids that I have to come home to when I do movies,” Anthony said. “These kids are my kids, I love them.”

Anthony has been cast in 18 films and TV series, including Dark Winds and Dexter: New Blood.

Partnerships, equipment

The competition is in its third year, and Film Prize Junior New Mexico partnered with Gallup McKinley County School District’s career technical education division.

According to Rosey Hayett, the director of the competition, Gallup, Miyamura, Tohatchi high schools, and Thoreau Middle School are participating in the Film Prize Junior New Mexico program.

Diné film mentors coach crop of young film enthusiasts

Special to the Times | Lee Begaye
Director Kymora Sleuth prepares the clapperboard for the film shoot for the upcoming film titled “Hello Grandma.”

Hayett said the mentorship program provides equipment, editing tools, software, transportation, and mentorship, which are part of an afterschool grant, to the student filmmakers. They will enter their work into the Film Prize Junior New Mexico Festival at the Albuquerque Convention Center from April 5 to 6, ending with an awards ceremony at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on April 7.

Hayett said interested schools can sign their students up but would need to pay. He added that funding from the state, sponsors, and donations can help schools partake in the program.

Film Prize Junior New Mexico steers student pathways into college and careers through Central New Mexico Community College, the Institute of American Indian Arts, and the Stagecoach Foundation, a Santa Fe nonprofit, respectively.

Last year, Film Prize Junior New Mexico piloted its mentorship program with IAIA, which pursued more Native film mentors like Begaye and Anthony and expanded its radius to eight other communities and schools throughout New Mexico.

Read more about young film enthusiasts in the March 21, edition of the Navajo Times.


About The Author

Boderra Joe

Boderra Joe is a reporter and photographer at Navajo Times. She has written for Gallup Sun and Rio Grande Sun and has covered various beats. She received second place for Sports Writing for the 2018 New Mexico Better Newspaper Awards. She is from Baahazhł’ah, New Mexico.

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