It's been a year and a half since the multi-talented Steven Paul Judd whetted our appetite with the teaser trailer for an action film he dreams of making. The movie, Six Pack and Gas Money, is currently more than a dream — but it's a long ways from coming to a theater near you. Whatever it is, it's a fascinating project that many of Judd's fans would like to see him deliver.
"We’re doing one last re-write and still looking for funding. I’d love to start shooting it this summer" says Judd. "I’ve talked to quite a few actors who have expressed interest [in playing the lead roles.] I can say there is some real interest." The trailers feature Brian Frejo, whom Judd has worked with before.
Six Pack and Gas Money, co-written with Tvli Jacob, is the story of a "former street hustler, [seeking] revenge on the drug lord he feels is responsible for killing his brother." Judd describes the movie as a "fun, stylized action movie in the manner of Smokin’ Aces, Boondock Saints, et cetera. I felt like we never get to see Natives in just a fun popcorn action flick.” So, he wrote a movie to fit his vision, putting “Natives in cool situations, with cool lines.” When pressed for a few more details, Judd reluctantly revealed "Well, first and foremost this is about family. I think most people, no matter what race or socio-economic back ground, have that one relative who is maybe the black sheep or loose cannon of the family. But, you still love them, you know? And, it's that loyalty or love that motivates our hero in this story."
The trailer for Six Pack and Gas Money has a distinctive Quentin Tarantino vibe. “Yeah, for sure QT," Judd says, "and throw in some Guy Ritchie, mixed with some Robert Rodriguez." As one would imagine, the highest hurdle to getting Six Pack from the drawing board to the silver screen is money. “It’s a relatively low-budget movie, but I’m not really good at raising money.” Judd posts news of the film to its facebook page, facebook.com/SixPackMovie.
Judd says that the casting is what will really set this film apart from any current release. "I want to introduce the world to some new, young native actors, but in the third act, we wrote a scene where our hero calls back home to his Uncle who works construction. That was written for cats I really enjoyed watching growing up, like Wes Studi, Graham Greene, where they load up the boys — and a lady — in this muscle car to help out with the big showdown. It is over-the-top crazy."
Judd stresses that he has a strong idea of how the film will look. "Visually, this will be candy for the eyes. I hope you can see just in a small way from the trailers how I envision shooting this flick. Something fun, not just for Natives, but a movie all that can dig — a nice vengeance/cautionary tale."
The movie biz is all about creating buzz — whether you're an established director/writer/producer, or just starting out, you need people to be talking to you or about you. And Judd has been making his rounds. "I was very fortunate that some heavy hitters respond to the trailers in positive ways. I had a meeting a few months ago in L.A. with a really big time cat who was really into this idea. So, we shall see."
Six Pack isn’t the first project on which Judd and Jacob have collaborated. The tandem got their start with American Indian Graffiti. “We shot it on video tape for about $7,000," he recalls. "We got a copy of it to Chris Eyre, the director of Smoke Signals. He called me and told me that he dug it. To me, it was sort of like validation from a professional.” Judd cites his biggest professional break as winning the ABC Disney Writers Fellowship, which led to him becoming a staff writer for Disney. He wrote for Zeke and Luther, a kids' show on the cable network Disney XD. “To be watching TV and see my name on the credits as the writer was a very surreal moment.” Judd also had a hand in writing Shouting Secrets. “It’s a really interesting experience to watch a movie with an audience and have them moved emotionally.” He is also working on a psychological thriller that he co-wrote with Clint Childers titled Life Quest. (Childers served as director of photography for the music video Judd directed for "The Storm," a track by Native musicians Doc and Spencer Battiest.)
Judd is an accomplished painter. His skill in graphic design is growing. And, his reputation as a humorist is well-known throughout the Native community. He credits Bunky Echo-Hawk with being his biggest artistic influence. He is a veritable well-spring of creativity. From whence does it all come? “I wish I had this really deep answer, but honestly most of the ideas and concepts that I come up with just come to me. I guess you can chalk that up to my personality — I just try to make stuff that I want to see.” Judd is regular participant at various film festivals; Santa Fe Indian Market; and featured frequently by Indian Country Today. He also regularly posts whatever project he has just completed to his facebook page, facebook.com/steven.judd2. He jokes that he spends his free-time enjoying long walks on the beach and listening to the Seattle rain. He quickly fesses up, “OK, that’s not true, actually I really enjoy going to the movies and watching sports.” But it doesn’t seem as if Judd has a lot of free-time. “I’m working on a collection of short stories that revolve around a mysterious traveling pow-wow, called The Last Full Blood Pow-wow.” For this project, Judd teams up with Thomas M. Yeahpau, author of the X Indian Chronicles: Books of Mausape. “And, there is a short film that I’m super excited to make.” Judd hails it as the best script he’s ever read, and is currently negotiating the filming rights. Stay tuned…