1491: The Untold Story of the Americas Before Columbus

1491: The Untold Story of the Americas Before Columbus: was quite the epic journey of research, creation, costumes and design. Lisa Jackson is a great director, it is a pleasure working with her, our collaboration, and discussions have always been easy. Production Designer, Teresa Weston is on her game and it is truly amazing when you see our work coming together to form a working scene – its magical. And Bob Aschmann makes everyone look stunning with his amazing camera work.

And now it’s a game! www.1491.ca

We filmed this in Kamloops. Beautiful painting to add to the scene

This series has won and been nominated for several awards,

2018 Leo Award – Best Music Composition in a Documentary Series (Russell Wallace)

2018 Leo Award – Best Screenwriting in a Documentary Series (Barbara Hager) 

2018 Leo Award – Best Documentary Series (Producers Barbara Hager, Pat Ferns, Desiree Single and Vanessa Loewen)

Nominated for Best History Documentary Program or Series – 2019 Canadian Screen Awards

This is a very heartfelt project, one that I hold very close to my heart. Being Indigenous I have a responsibility to honour, not only for myself as a person and an artist- but to my Ancestors. This project, 1491, is depicting Indigenous people in North and South America thousands of years ago.

I found out about this project in November 2014. I started to immediately research and create a collection of photos and books. I appreciate that I can talk directly to the writer, Barbara Hager, and get her vision and thoughts on each scene and sometimes each character.

In May we traveled to Peru and officially started filming. The project was blessed with a Costume House that had almost all of the costume pieces needed for the entire shoot. I gathered detailing and designed a messenger bag for the Chasquis to wear. I loved working with the Peruvian people to create these characters. It was truly an extraordinary experience to be in Peru filming their Descendants.

Then came the Taos Indigenous peoples. This one was a bit of a challenge, but in the end, everything looked beautiful. I created jewelry and adornments, everything pulled together very nicely.

Mexico was a challenge because I had not secured wardrobe and needed to go to Los Angeles to gather. We travelled to Vallodolid Mexico and filmed Amazon and Mayan. I had a great team and had two best friends with me on this leg of the journey- Bruna Noguiera, a very talented SPFX Makeup Artist and Jack Guzman, a talented actor. Because of the costumes and adornments from Western Costume Co. and Universal Studios Costume Department, I was able to design custom belts and clothing for specific characters. It all came together so beautifully, I was truly proud of how things looked.

In the summer we started working on Vancouver Island and in the Interior of British Columbia. We started out with my own lineage, the Nuuchahnulth People, specifically the woman and basket weaving. I have started to learn basket weaving from an excellent teacher, Witchita Paull. I am honoured that the Director asked if I wanted to be in this scene, I of course said yes. I shared the screen with my Aunty Mary Derocher and two beautiful ladies. We all looked stunning in our cedar bark regalia we rented from the Amos family.

onset 1491 in BC

In BC we have covered: Anishnaabe, Artic/Inuit, Argentina, Blackfoot, Brazil, Cahokia, Chile, Clovis, Cree, Kwaguilth and Nuuchahnulth.

At the end of August we went to Ontario to film the Iroquois people. These episodes were stressful – we filmed the Iroquois Confederacy and the Original Clan Mother. I had to get this right. Thankfully, I have a few longtime family friends who are Mohawk and they gave advice and knowledge that assisted me with the story and photos. My Uncle Bukwilla gifted me with eagle feathers for this production, which I have used on more than one occasion. The more I learnt about the Iroquois people, the more I understood about their sacred eagles. I felt that the westcoast eagle joined me on this production to land in the east, I felt blessed to be able to say, The Eagle Has Landed.

At the end of September we filmed the Origin scene, the script changed so much it was a challenge to keep up with the major script changes, but thankfully the wardrobe from Western Costume Co. was always perfect to work with. I challenged myself and I auditioned for the lead role (with the blessings of the Writer/Producer Barbara Hager) and I got the part. I auditioned because I knew this character and I knew what was needed for this opening episode. I was so very happy when I got the call that I got the part. We filmed for four days and each day went beautifully. I was very thankful to have a great team of ladies taking care of me, the onset costumer Freyja was on the mark with everything and was always there for me. This role gave me insight to the needs of the actor and I will always take that with me in every project in the future. It was emotionally draining, physically taxing and such a profound experience to be acting with a crew I had become family with. I know that they all supported me and I trusted that.