Honoring the Ainu Ancestors

Ape Huchi Wacka Ush is an original song written and performed by Madi Sato. In it she honors her Ainu ancestors. Her performance, the setting, weather conditions and documentation all come together in this music video, which is the most recent OCC HD project. It has already been shared across the Pacific to the relatives in her Ainu homeland. Now we are applying to festivals.

The experience of making this movie was exceptionally rewarding. It began when cameraman Kevin Jones told us he was going to rent a Sony FS-7 and do some test shooting for a couple weeks. Fortunately, at that same time, our friend Madi had been recording her latest album. Rather casually, we dropped the suggestion to both parties that perhaps the timing is such that they could help each other out. Everyone was ready. It came so easy, like the planets were aligned for it.

Pre-production was minimal, consisting of a locations scouting session, a walk through and agreement to commence shooting the very images that Madi was dreaming up on the spot. So, contrary to the way we usually work, there was neither script nor storyboard in print when we commenced our two-and-a-half day shoot, up in the mountains in winter.

The simple premise of a medicine woman praying to her ancestor and her ancestor answering in a parallel dimension , was what we tried for. The ceremonial prayers, chants and gestures provide adequate content, and the humble grace of the celebrant is inspiring. Earth, wind, fire and water are the elementals through which this mysterious contact is transacted.

Frequent collaborator James Becker made his skills and experience available for assembling the footage, in-sync with Madi’s singing. In the process he also created a host of marvelous dissolves that convey the parallel universe perspective effectively. 

David Jean Schweitzer was generous with his skills and experience in the fine cut and color grading. It was David that bore the majority of the brunt of our abbreviated pre-production period consequences. David has been a frequent OCC collaborator. We honor him for all his many contributions to our movies over the years.

Couple Studios in Boulder is another frequent collaborator. Ed Kaufman has engineered our final output to optimum industry standards with a personal touch that comes from long experience.

We look forward to its premiere at a film festival near you.


BAILOUT was awarded the “Best Picture” award at the Santa Fe Reporter 3 Minute Film Festival, which programmed 30 shorts from as far away as the United Kingdom and Latin America. It is an official selection at the Washington DC Independent Film Festival, and the New Mexico Film Expo, among others.

BAILOUT was my first film. I challenged myself to tell the story with no dialog or music, and to portray, with characters and setting alone, a believable reality in three-minutes.

John Barleycorn

“Ode d’ Brew” with Brendan Wedner, Stephanie Nagler and Matt Sanford. Written and Directed by Stryder Simms for Open Channel Content, with music by Jake Sproul. Special thanks to David Aubrey at Lighteningwood in Santa Fe and Scott Roche at Coupe Studios in Boulder.

Scorched Ladders

90 sec. trailer for the pilot of our current proposed episodic series

This month’s post was intended to analyze the movie “12” (2007) from the Russian Federation’s Nikita Mikhalkov. We will push that analysis forward another month so we can dedicate this month to our newest in-house project.

Written, directed and produced for Open Channel Content, our trailer for an episodic series entitled “Scorched Ladders” has been submitted as an entry into the Santa Fe Film Festival Pilot Project Shoot Santa Fe competition. The winner will receive funds and production assistance worth several thousand dollars.

After its premiere at the Santa Fe Film Festival, “Scorched Ladders” will be posted above for public viewing. The work was written and directed by Stryder Simms, produced by Phoenix Simms and shot by Bill Mitchell on the Sony A7SII. Dave Aubrey edited and finished the picture with sound by James Becker and.music by Moons. The actors are Paloma Bryant, Raptor English, Jeff English and Esme Rodriguez Vandraager. Special Costumes were created by Tatyana de Pavloff.

Our new trailer will be entered into  the competition at the same film festival where Godfrey Reggio’s “Koyaniskatsii” made its world premiere back in 1982, the very festival in which the great Peter Bagdonovic and his life’s works will be celebrated this very season.

Our town, Santa Fe, where we’ll make our pilot, is where Oscar Best Picture-winner “No Country For Old Men” had its production offices headquartered the year I got into film school and not far from the place in which Billy Wilder’s “Ace in the Hole” was shot during New Mexico’s first golden age of motion pictures.

Santa Fe’s affinity with filmmakers goes back to the birth of the medium. Some of the first motion pictures ever recorded were made at nearby Isleta Pueblo by Thomas Edison himself, so being included in this festival program this year,is an honor.

Another winner from these parts that shines light on the fascinating culture of Northern New Mexico, Robert Redford’s “Milagro Beanfield War” (1988), from the book by Taos author John Nichols, adds additional distinction to our state’s cinematic legacy. The magic realism in “Beanfield” is more keyed to the type of storytelling that the coming chapters of “Scorched Ladders” hold in store. Carl Franklin’s “Bless Me Ultima” (2013), from the book by Rudolpho Anaya, is a bit more edgy with its magic; ours lies somewhere in between.

Rather than ghosts and witches, the spirits inhabiting shrubs and stones are major agents of change in our new episodic series. Santa Fe is not so much a tourist town, in “Scorched Ladders”, as the place where ancient Mayan and Toltec sorcerers gathered to train for spiritual warfare and devised the riddle of X8H, the powerful symbol that recurs throughout our series.

Santa Fe is not so much an art colony as a plateau with foothills where magical beings have danced on feast days for centuries. This City Different is less a capitol city than an ancient citadel on a trade route first built for trading turquoise, pottery, pumpkins and pinion nuts.

All of this is set off in high relief by the presence of nearby Los Alamos labs, birthplace of the bomb, but also a place where the most brilliant minds on the planet join together at the most sophisticated, well-funded center for technological advancement in the history of humankind.