The Oklahoma Film + Music Office (OF+MO) and the Chickasaw Nation are pleased to announce the start of principal photography this week for the feature film “The Chickasaw Rancher” in Oklahoma. Among the film’s locations is the Chickasaw Ranch in the Davis area with additional filming to take place throughout the state.
A project of Chickasaw Nation Productions, “The Chickasaw Rancher” shares the story of one of the most colorful personalities of the 19th century – Chickasaw rancher Montford T. Johnson. Orphaned at a young age, Johnson survived great hardships and tragedy to establish a vast ranching empire along the famous cattle highway of the American West, the Chisholm Trail. Inspired by recounts of Johnson’s life, the film will tell of his time among settlers, cowboys, Indian fighters, bandits and fur traders. Armed with a Colt revolver and dreams of a better life, Johnson had the grit, determination and courage that was needed to tame what seemed an infinite wilderness, while always maintaining respect for the Native people who lived there.
“The Chickasaw Rancher” emphasizes diversity in casting with more than 10 tribes represented in speaking roles. In fact, minority roles constitute more than 60% of the speaking roles in the movie which will be directed by Nathan Frankowski, whose previous credits include “To Write Love On Her Arms” as well as “Te Ata”, which was also produced by Chickasaw Nation Productions in Oklahoma.
Paul Sirmons, an independent filmmaker with a career covering 36 years, has been hired as producer of “The Chickasaw Rancher”. Sirmons also served as both the producer for the Chickasaw Nation film “Te Ata” and the Film and Entertainment Commissioner in Florida.
“It is a great pleasure to be working with the Oklahoma Film Commission, the Chickasaw Nation and the people of Oklahoma again,” said Sirmons. “Oklahoma is a wonderful place to make movies. It offers a wide variety of great locations, a skilled workforce and a number of talented actors. Filming here is even more attractive because of the rebate program which allows us to tell (and reveal) this Native American story in his native lands.”
“The Chickasaw Rancher” will utilize the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program administered by the Oklahoma Film & Music Office. This is the third film produced by the Chickasaw Nation to qualify for the program.
“We’re thrilled to be once again working with Paul Sirmons and the Chickasaw Nation on their latest feature film,” said OF+MO Director Tava Maloy Sofsky. “The Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate has been a crucial factor in allowing our state to play a key role both on and off screen as the Nation seeks to preserve and share its indigenous stories with film audiences.”
Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said film production is part of the Nation’s effort to tell the story of the Chickasaw people.
“Montford Johnson’s life story helps illustrate the important role Chickasaw people have played shaping American history and culture,” said Governor Anoatubby. “His remarkable legacy of helping others in their time of need, entrepreneurialism and diplomacy blazed a trail we can all appreciate. We believe sharing this story of his strong Chickasaw spirit will enable us to expand on his legacy and develop an even stronger sense of community.”
The vast ranching operation Johnson created, beginning in 1868, led to the establishment of a half-dozen Oklahoma towns and communities and was one of the first successful examples of large-scale ranching in Indian Territory.
About the Oklahoma Film + Music Office:
Created in 1979, The Oklahoma Film + Music Office strives to share all that Oklahoma has to offer by welcoming filmmakers and music professionals to the state and by creating a network of support to develop Oklahoma’s film and music industries. For more information about the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program or the Oklahoma Film + Music Office please visit www.okfilmmusic.org.