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Award Winning High School Film “Tsiiyééł” Created with Blackmagic Design Cameras and DaVinci Resolve Studio

Blackmagic Design announced that high school filmmakers from the Flagstaff Bordertown Dormitory in Arizona, working with the University of Arizona’s School of Theatre, Film and Television, used Blackmagic Design digital film cameras and DaVinci Resolve Studio editing, grading, visual effects (VFX) and audio post production software to create the film Tsiiyééł. Since its completion the film has been shown at ten international film festivals, including imagineNATIVE, the world’s largest indigenous film festival.

The student filmmakers of Tsiiyééł created a film around the idea of drawing strength from their Native American culture. In the film, a Diné teenager, played by Hailee Bekis, is feeling down and decides to go on a run wearing her Tsiiyééł, a traditional Diné hair bun. On her run, she is followed by a creature that is making her question who she is. She must draw strength from her culture to overcome her identity conflict and embrace who she is.

Tsiiyééł has been a huge success following a festival strategy devised by the festival and awards office at the University of Arizona School of Theatre, Film and Television. In addition to the Toronto based imagineNATIVE, the film has drawn audiences at festivals across the United States and in Europe, including the All American High School Film Festival in New York, the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, CineFestival San Antonio, and the UK’s Native Spirit Film Festival.

The Kinlani Film Project is an after school filmmaking program for Diné, Hopi, Tohono O’odham and Havasupai high school students. The project is offered to students living at the Flagstaff Bordertown Dormitory, which is dedicated to preparing and empowering all students for the choices and challenges they will face in the future by providing a positive, healthy, social and educational environment based on Diné/Navajo and Native American knowledge and language.

Tsiiyééł was filmed using Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro and URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 digital film cameras, with editing and grading completed using DaVinci Resolve Studio. Post production was led by University of Arizona School of Theatre, Film and Television alumnus Kristian Jackson as part of a mentoring program between the university and the Kinlani Film Project students, who connected with Jackson via cloud based collaboration.

Shot in the winter snows of Flagstaff, the film’s crew had to deal with shooting in unpredictable lighting and cold. The Blackmagic Design cameras’ low light capabilities, along with the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro’s internal ND filters, gave the crew the freedom to get the shots that matched their vision for the story. The crew also used a Blackmagic Video Assist 7” 3G monitor and recorder, which they ingeniously attached to the cameras with a 12 foot HDMI cord to use as a validity monitor so each member of the crew could participate in each shot.

Oakley Anderson Moore, an award winning filmmaker and founder of the Kinlani Film Project, has been working with students from the Flagstaff Bordertown Dormitory for years. “The creativity of these students is amazing. They have the vision but have not had access to the same technology and opportunities that other schools can offer. It was amazing to see what they did with Tsiiyééł after they got the Blackmagic cameras and DaVinci Resolve.”

Kerryn Negus, director of advancement and external relations for the University of Arizona’s School of Theatre, Film and Television (TFTV), headed up the coordination between the two schools. “TFTV is devoted to nurturing the next generation of filmmakers so it was thrilling to see Kristian, an emerging TFTV alum, sharing his editing process with the Kinlani filmmakers,” she said. “On first watching Tsiiyééł, we knew that it was something special and were excited to put together a film festival campaign. We’re proud of the filmmakers for creating a story that is now resonating with audiences across the country and around the world.”

The film was also used as part of a recent Hollywood Professional Association session on “The Future of Visual Storytelling.” Blackmagic Design Business Development Manager David Hoffman worked with the Kinlani crew for the session. “The project was part of a presentation to the HPA at its annual Tech Retreat,” said Hoffman. “Partnering with AWS, we sought to explore what the next generation of visual storytellers would feel using today’s cutting edge cloud based workflows.

“We selected the Flagstaff Bordertown Dormitory and University of Arizona schools as representatives of filmmakers who would be 5 and 10 years out of their professional engagement with the industry. The students were given little guidance on the technology so we could see how they managed on their own. The content topic was a completely original vision generated by the students. The outcome was an astonishing view of how adaptable the students are to new technology and workflows and an amazingly personal vision of their world in the final production.”

Tsiiyééł is currently being shown at festivals throughout early 2023. The Kinlani film crew includes writers and directors Austin Jimmy, Shanique Yazzie and Hailee Bekis, as well as writers, actors and technical crew Robyn Claw, Orion Lucero, LaDonna Jacket, Zoey Nez, Roshelle Hawee, Faith Begay and Devin Goodman, Shyla Clark and Leandre Frank.

Press Photography

Product photos of Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro, URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2, Video Assist 7” 3G, DaVinci Resolve Studio and all other Blackmagic Design products are available at www.blackmagicdesign.com/media/images

About Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, digital film cameras, color correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and real time film scanners for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries. Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability in post production, while the company’s Emmy™ award winning DaVinci color correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984. Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI products and stereoscopic 3D and Ultra HD workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, UK, Japan, Singapore and Australia. For more information, please go to www.blackmagicdesign.com

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