THE LAST MANHUNT
Studio: On the Roam
Director: Christian Camargo
Producer: Eric Laciste
Executive Producer: Jason Momoa
Written by: TBA
Jason Momoa plays: TBA
Other stars: Martin Sensmeier, Mojean Aria, Zahn McClarnon, Mainei Kinimaka, Lily Gladstone, Raoul Max Trujillo
Official sites: TBA
At the turn of the twentieth century, a reputed double murder and suicide spawns a Shakespearean Tragedy born of desert dust and gun smoke. Willie boy is a Native American love story spun into a tale of “Savage Indian murder” by fear mongering publications of the day.
According to Production Weekly:
This spring Jason Momoa plans to produce and direct the indie feature THE LAST MANHUNT, the saga of Willie Boy, who apparently shot and killed the father of a 16-year-old girl he loved and then led lawmen on a deadly desert pursuit, was a love story gone awry.
THE LAST MANHUNT STORYLINE: At the turn of the twentieth century, a reputed double murder and suicide spawns a Shakespearean Tragedy born of desert dust and gun smoke. Willie boy is a Native American love story spun into a tale of “Savage Indian murder” by fear mongering publications of the day.
This film will be shot in the Banning, Twenty-Nine Palms, Joshua Tree and greater Coachella Valley areas
LETTER FROM ON THE ROAM PRODUCTIONS AND JASON MOMOA
“These violent delights have violent ends and in their triumphs die, like fire and powder.”
– William Shakespeare
This is the true story of the “Last Great Manhunt” of the old west.
The Last Manhunt
Logline – At the turn of the twentieth century, a reputed double murder and suicide spawns a Shakespearean Tragedy born of desert dust and gun smoke. Willie boy is a Native American love story spun into a tale of “Savage Indian murder” by fear mongering publications of the day.
On the Roam is extremely proud to present The Last Manhunt. Authentically crafting a story true to history and Jason’s creative vision is our ultimate goal. Being of native Hawaiian decent, Jason’s passion and commitment to the cultural integrity of The Last Manhunt is of the upmost importance. This can only be accomplished with most accurate representation of the local native tribes in the Southern California area.
More from PE.com:
Momoa is part of the On the Roam creative production company, which is producing the film. Several locations throughout local deserts have been used for filming, including the Gilman Ranch, where Willie Boy worked as a cowboy.
As much as possible, local tribes have been recruited to appear in the movie as extras or stand-ins. Levi Herrera, from the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians near San Jacinto, was on the Banning set in mid-September. The 11-year-old’s mom, Monica Herrera, serves on its tribal council and his father, Gabriel, is a fire captain with the Soboba Fire Department.
“Levi loved it and he got to meet a lot of the other actors,” Monica Herrera said. “His role was playing with some other kids. He had two scenes.”
The film is set to depict the mounted posse “seeking justice for their ‘murdered’ tribal leader.”
“Willie Boy and Carlota evade capture, outlasting the men and their horses,” the synopsis reads. “However, fake news stories meant to sell papers adds to the mounting pressure to capture Willie Boy.”
In real life, Willie Boy was accused of murdering the father of the girl he loved and then fleeing with her through the Morongo Valley/Twentynine Palms area as two sheriff’s posses followed.
Momoa, an indigenous Hawaiian native, wanted to tell the story as remembered by those who were involved: the Chemehuevi band of the Southern Paiute.
Producer Eric Laciste said Momoa fell in love with the tale and was adamant about getting the input of tribal members. The Chemehuevi band is mostly from around the areas of Lake Havasu and Parker at the California/Arizona border.
Sheridan Silversmith, her two sons and more than 20 of their family members from the Chemehuevi Valley waited on set last month to be called during one of the first full days of filming.
“It was about a three-hour drive for us,” Silversmith said. “My two boys got a part and will be filming next week – but we might be extras today.”
Leivas is one of the leading Salt Song Singers among the Southern Paiute people and led several tribal members in a Salt Song for an audio recording done that day.
“I’m glad this is happening; this will tell our story,” said Leivas, who co-founded the Salt Song Project in 1998 so all 14 different bands from Arizona to Northern California could revive the spiritual songs.
Laciste called the film a passion project for the producers.
“They have put a lot of importance on having this story told correctly and respectfully,” he said. “Jason and the entire cast and crew are honored and grateful to be telling this story.”
Momoa was originally set to direct the film but is now executive producer because he had other commitments. He felt it was critical to have a Native American, such as Martin Sensmeier, in the lead role. Sensmeier is of Tlingit and Koyukon-Athabascan and was raised in Alaska, where he learned and participated in the traditions of his tribes.
The crew has been working up to 18 hours a day to get the film completed as soon as possible in hopes it can be screened at January’s Sundance Film Festival, which has been managed by Robert Redford’s nonprofit Sundance Institute since 1985.
Redford starred in the 1969 Willie Boy film, that was based on the book by The Press-Enterprise writer Harry Lawton in the 1950s. Momoa and writers of “The Last Manhunt” met with Redford to let him know the film is not just a remake of theirs.
“It’s a beautiful love story, but it’s also about people being divided and we saw a chance to make it contemporary and hopefully it will offer some healing to the people that were affected by it all,” Laciste said. “As much as we want to tell a truthful story, at the end of the day it’s art so we realize not everyone is going to be completely satisfied.”