Riley Keough had to make sure that while she was telling the story of an indigenous community, she was also responsible for respecting their sentiments as a filmmaker.
In an interview with The Irish Times, the star, 33, revealed that people wanted “a white person as a protagonist” in War Pony, so they could identify with” them.
“They wanted an outsider who was going into the community. We tried to incorporate that. Because that was a weird note we got a lot,” Keough explained.
“And then we decided: this is f—ing ridiculous. We're making a movie about our two boys and Pine Ridge and our friends. Why are we all of a sudden trying to incorporate these white people?”
Along with Keough, War Pony is produced by her best friend and producing partner Gina Gammell. The idea for the movie originated from Keough's friendships with Franklin Sioux Bob and Bill Reddy, whom she met at Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota Indian reservation when she was filming American Honey.
Reddy and Bob, along with Gammell are also writers for the film, which received the Caméra d'Or award for best debut feature at the Cannes film festival last year.
“The film became about how we could consciously and ethically collaborate within this community,” she told the outlet.
“It wasn't an easy thing to do. In my opinion, if you want to be a filmmaker to go into a community, you can't just take what you want and leave. You have to put a lot of work in. And that was something that we were going to do because these were our friends. They felt like our families.”
Keough added that since the community had “so much horrific history with white people,” they had to be respectful of the relationship of trust they build.
“There were challenges,” Keough elucidated. “Ultimately, we were present for them and we talked through everything that was going to come up. I'm proud of the effort we put in to make this movie. It really was made out of love. If you're making a film in a community that's not your own, there has to be love and care.”