An Aberdeen director has brought a popular novel set in a Native American reservation to the screen – after dedicating years of his life to the project.
Steven Lewis Simpson, who began his filming career in the Granite City and directed his first feature here, is to return to Aberdeen to premier Neither Wolf Nor Dog in June.
The former Cults Academy pupil, who now lives in Bulgaria, was asked to take on the project by the novel’s author Kent Nerburn, after seeing his previous movie Rez Bomb, which was shot on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, as he wanted someone who knew the reservation and was respected.
For the past six years, Steven has dedicated his time to the film, which has been shown in more than 200 places in America and will now make its way to Scotland.
The 49-year-old said: “Neither Wolf Nor Dog is different to any other feature film I have done.
“It is the first I have directed based on another writer’s work, which indicates how the work spoke to me.
“For the 20 years since the novel was published, film producers had circled it trying to make it into a movie.
“Having had enough of empty Hollywood promises, Kent Nerburn approached me at a screening of my movie Rez Bomb that I’d shot on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and gave me the novel.
“I’d built up such a strong relationship with them over the years because people knew my previous work.
“After promises of finance failed to materialise, we decided to go for it with whatever we had. Fortunately, the novel has passionate fans and with limited social media marketing, the film had two successful Kickstarter campaigns that essentially bankrolled the movie.
“The film makes you laugh and it makes you cry. The audience has really got behind it.”
The movie was filmed over a period of 18 days, with around eight hours of shooting each day.
The Kickstarter raised $25,000, which was used to fund the project.
It follows the story of an author who gets sucked into the heart of contemporary Native American life in Dakota by a 95-year-old Lakota elder and his side-kick, and is based on the book of the same name. The cast includes Dave Bald Eagle, who plays Dan, a Lakota elder, and Christopher Sweeney as author Kent Nerburn.
Steven, who originally worked as a stockbroker at 18 before leaving Aberdeen for LA aged 22, said: “It’ll be my first time back in two-and-a-half years.
“I was working as a stockbroker and going out filming in my spare time. I thought I’ve got to prove myself and I moved to LA at 22.
“I returned to Aberdeen to film my first feature.
“When I started out I was really the only person doing it. I was working in a vacuum.
“I’ve not been round Aberdeen so much in the past few years but people are still doing it by themselves.
“Filming for this is similar as like Aberdeen, there’s no film industry so you’re doing it on your own.
“There’s one thing Aberdeen filmmakers have in common – you all shoot at Balmedie Beach at one point.”
Neither Wolf Nor Dog will premier at Belmont Filmhouse on June 7.