Economic Development: Moviemaking on Native Land
The RNCI California Native Indigenous Film Commission is delighted to introduce “ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ON NATIVE LAND™” in partnership with the entertainment industry. This enlightening discussion will shed light on the profound importance of filming on Native land, presenting a novel perspective on this vital subject.
This initiative is about more than just film production; it’s about economic growth. By creating job opportunities, offering workforce development training to prepare tribal members for the film industry, and unlocking untapped resources, we’re poised to increase revenue significantly. Additionally, we’re poised to explore new locations, uncover hidden treasures, and expand horizons.
Joanelle Romero, Founder CEO President, Red Nation Celebration Institute
Allison Whitmer, Commissioner, Montana Film Office
Coni Shepperd, Southern Kentucky Film Commission
Cyndy McCrossen, Liaison, City of Albuquerque Film
Marcei Brown, Founder, Crewie
Mike Fantasia, Former President, LMGI
presented in partnership with Red Nation Television Network
Joanelle RomeroFounder, CEO, President, Red Nation Celebration Institute
Joanelle Romero is a humanitarian, actor, singer/songwriter, entrepreneur, member of The Academy Motion Picture Arts & Sciences since 2016 and first native filmmaker to be short-listed for an Academy Award for her film film ‘AMERICAN HOLOCAUST: WHEN IT’S ALL OVER I’LL STILL BE INDIAN’. First Native to receive humanitarian award Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award given to projects that have “the vision to see the truth and the courage to speak it.”
Third Generation Union Strong, a member of SAG-AFTRA since 1977, marking 45 years of membership. During her time as a member, Romero has actively participated by serving on the SAG-EEOC committee from 1998 to 2001. Within the framework of SAG-AFTRA, her nonprofit organization RNCI undertook numerous initiatives. Among these were the production of various events, including the creation of panels such as “Where Are We (Native Americans) in Film, Television, and Radio” in 2000 – this marked the first time SAG had an event on Native Representation, and “Native Women in Film & Television” in 2012. This commitment was an avenue to amplify the voices of Native individuals and foster representation within the entertainment industry.
Romero’s family legacy in politics and the entertainment industry is historic and respected. Her mother Rita Rogers, Mescalero-Chiricahua Apache and Spanish- Sephardic, was signed to Universal Studios in the 1960’s. She was featured in nine Elvis Presley movies, the Carol Burnett Show, and the Red Skelton Show.
In the political realm, her Uncle was one of the most decorated politicians,
Congressman Edward R. Roybal. In 1949, Roybal became the first Native Indigenous person to serve on the Los Angeles City Council since 1881 and was one of the highest-ranking Indigenous persons in California municipal government. He left the ladder down for others.
Romero has a long impressive career starring in the first Contemporary Native Women’s Story ever produced 1977 “A Girl Called Hatter Fox ” to 1989 Sundance award winning film cult classic Pow Wow Highway, the film that paved the way for contemporary native filmmaking.
Founder, President, CEO of Red Nation Celebration Institute actively organizing ground-breaking initiatives & programs since 1978. RNCI Properties include: Red Nation International Film Festival, RNCI Red Nation Awards, Red Nation Television Network Native Indigenous Media Streaming Company (predating Netflix and all other streaming services), Native Women in Film & Television in All Media, RNCI Crew, California Native Indigenous Film Commission, New Mexico Native Indigenous Film Commission, American Indian Heritage Month in the City of Los Angeles, Native Studies Center, Native Indigenous Student Academy for Cinematic Arts and Native Youth Matter – If I Can See It I Can Be It.
Mike FantasiaFormer President, LMGI
After working for the US Forest Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service for 13 years after college, Mike transitioned to a life working in the film business. He has worked as an assistant location manager, location manager and production supervisor on over 30 feature films.
Among them are Killers of the Flower Moon, Top Gun: Maverick, A River Runs Through It, Heat, Jerry Maguire, Girl, Interrupted, Dante’s Peak, Blow, Catch Me If You Can, Seabiscuit,, Munich, 3:10 to Yuma, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Amazing Spiderman, Godzilla and AntMan. He has been nominated for four California On Location awards for Location Professional of the Year, and won that award in 2005 for Memoirs of a Geisha and 2010 for The Green Hornet. Mike loves to explore new countries and work has given Mike the opportunity to travel to over 35 states and a dozen foreign countries. Mike is a proud twenty-three year member of Teamsters Local 399 and is a founding member of the Location Managers Guild International, on whose Board he now serves.
Cyndy McCrossenCity of Albuquerque Film Liaison
Cyndy McCrossen was recruited by Mayor Tim Keller in 2021 to
serve as the Film Liaison for the City of Albuquerque Film Office.
An IATSE member since 2008, Cyndy has specialized in New
Mexico location scouting and management for film, television,
commercial productions for over a dozen years with credits on
shows such as Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Preacher, Outer
Range and many others. Born and educated in NM she also lived
in New York City – where she studied and performed Modern
Dance- for over a decade. She has worked as a producer for still
photographers and as an advocate for the film industry and film
crew education. She serves as a member of Central New Mexico’s
Film Advisory Committee, was recently awarded Albuquerque Film
& Media Experience’s ‘Impact’ award, is a member -and award
winner- of Location Managers Guild International and a member of
the Association of Film Commissioners International. In her current
position as Film Liaison in the City of Albuquerque Economic
Development Office Cyndy has been responsible for the faceforward,
physical relocation of the Albuquerque Film Office, the
development of a wide-range of advertising campaigns to promote
local film labor to national decision makers (one garnering an
International Economic Development Council silver award) She
also developed a Sustainable/Green Film Vendor data base. She
has been an early advocate and supporter of the acclaimed
Albuquerque branded PBS music series ‘Bands of Enchantment’.
In 2022 she was invited to speak in Karlskrona Sweden at the Carl
Film Forum (with Breaking Bad producer, Steward Lyon) on the
subject ‘Breaking Bad’s Economic Impact on Albuquerque’. She
has spoken in prior panel discussions with the Red Nation
Celebration Institute on the subject of ‘Economic Development on
Native Lands’. She often travels to promote Albuquerque’s film
industry and continues to advocate and facilitate for all members of
the Albuquerque community along their path as filmmakers.
Allison WhitmerCommissioner, Montana Film Office
For over 25 years, Allison has been involved in filmmaking – beginning with the Robert Redford classic, The Horse Whisperer. A member of the Directors Guild, Allison’s filmography includes 30+ movies and numerous television and documentary credits. Notable credits include the adaptation of the Native American breakthrough novel, Winter in the Blood, penned by the acclaimed author James Welch; Certain Women, which brings the everyday stories of Montana women to life; and Walking Out, which captures the very real consequences of interacting with the Montana wilderness. Over her career she has worked with many clients in Print (Valentino, Italian Vogue), Sports (SLC Olympics), and Commercials (Ford, Toyota, Jaguar). She is a graduate of Montana State University with degrees in Media and Theatre Arts and Consumer Economics.
As the Montana Film Commissioner, Allison is an expert in the business aspects of filmmaking. She strives to market Montana as an Ultimate Location and prove the value of our industry through economic reporting, managing incentive programs, and advocating for Montana filmmakers.
Allison emanates the generational knowledge and spirit of her pioneer grandparents and possesses a love of open spaces. She actively promotes historic preservation and youth education, especially in her home area of Montana – the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
Marcei BrownFounder, Crewie
Marcei A. Brown, a founding partner of CatchLight Studios and a founding
partner with Jeanette Volturno in Crewvie, inc. Marcei and Jeanette turned to
web engineering veterans, Camille Alcasid and Sandra Jimenez of Westside
Websites, to bring their vision to full fruition. Camille and Sandra listened
carefully to Marcei and Jeanette’s goals and studied the industry’s pain
points in Film and TV production from the perspective of Producers. The
solution is Crewvie.com, a proprietary technology powerhouse, custom developed
by Camille and Sandra using the latest online productivity and
These four women united together to contribute their collective expertise in
assembling winning teams in the entertainment and media industries.
Coni ShepperdSouthern Kentucky Film Commission
For over 15 years, Coni Shepperd has worked in the Tourism Industry and is a proud founding member of the Southern Kentucky Film Commission. Not only does she serve as the President of the Film Commission, but she is also the Executive Director of Munfordville Tourism and sits on the Board of Directors for Caveland Marketing Association (CMA) and Cave Country Trails (CCT). She is honored to represent Munfordville in the Kentucky Travel Industry Association (KTIA), the Kentucky Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus (KACVB), and the Southeast Tourism Society (STS). Coni persisted as a driving force to reinstate the Kentucky Film incentive programs and continues to advocate the benefits while collaborating with multiple organizations and production companies to bring film opportunities to Southern Kentucky.