Filmmaker Travis Holt Hamilton was running along a pier early in the morning in California when he saw the woman.
She was older and in a wheelchair being pushed by an older man on a pier that stretched out over the ocean.
“Just the look of her like content, just happy, and to me, being in Arizona, the ocean is still kind of surreal – there’s still kind of that magic and power to it,” he said. “And so there’s that image stuck in my head, and later that afternoon, I opened up my journal and started writing about this older woman that maybe being here had just come from Arizona, she’s always wanted to touch the ocean, to feel that mighty power of the water.”
And so the idea for his latest film, “Touch the Water,” was born.
“It’s the story of a senior elder, the character’s 80 years old, a Native woman that is at that stage in her life where she still lives at home in her house she’s lived in for 40, 50 years, and she’s getting to the point where she’s almost not able to take care of herself and so she needs to make a decision of moving into an assisted-living situation or moving in with family – that’s where the movie starts,” he said.
The woman visits once a week at a senior center, and while she’s there, one of the young interns challenges her and a few others to find a dream – find a new dream, or if there’s something they haven’t accomplished that they’ve always wanted to in their life that they would be able to find that, he said. She takes the challenge seriously, and it’s pretty easy for her to come up with something she’s always wanted to do.
“That’s the journey of the film,” Holt Hamilton said. “It’s her going after the dream, at the same time realizing she still has purpose, she still has value as a member of society and the importance of reconnecting with family – we have a lot of those elements running through the film.”
This will be Holt Hamilton’s first film since 2015’s“Legends from the Sky,” a Native American sci-fi thriller. His company, Holt Hamilton Productions, specializes in independent indigenous filmmaking. His past films include: “Turquoise Rose,” “Blue Gap Boy’z,” “Pete & Cleo” and “More than Frybread,” a mockumentary about a frybread competition that received a jury commendation at the 2012 Durango Independent Film Festival.
According to the website, the characters to be cast are:
Daisy – Female, 60 to 95 years. old, to play a 75-year-old Native American woman who lives alone and enjoys weekly visits to the Senior Day Center. She’s a retired English professor who maintains a vibrant mind but struggles with a body that’s breaking down fast. She’s spiritual, artistic and dreams of having grandchildren before it’s too late. She searches for a greater purpose in life. Malinda – Female, 55 to 75 years old, to play a 69-year-old woman (not ethnic-specific) who lives alone and enjoys visiting with friends at the Senior Day Center. She has an endearing personality and is happy to just live to see another day. No big hopes and dreams or purpose in life. Looks for the good in others and likes routine. Happy in the moment. Dyami – Male, 18 to 30 years old, to play a 23-year-old Native American man who interns at the local Senior Day Center. He loves to help others succeed with their dreams as he chases down his own. Jessica – Female, 35 to 48 years old, to play a 44-year-old Native American woman as Daisy’s daughter and only child. A successful lawyer with husband and no children. Her work and husband are her life. She feels responsible for her mother’s care but has very little time for her even though she knows she should do more. Ruby – Female, 65 to 105 years old, to play a 90+-year-old Native American woman who visits the Senior Day Center often. She’s grumpy, loves to argue, tease and sometimes is just downright mean. She has a sharp mind but negative outlook on life and is often in pain whether real or imagined. Others put up with her because she is so old and fragile. Crazy Bob – Male, 65 to 100 years old, to play a 70-ish-year-old man (non-ethnic specific) who visits the Senior Day Center often. He loves to flirt with the ladies, wear crazy clothes and often has moments of dementia. Young Daisy – Female, 2 to 6 years old, to play a 3-year-old Native American child who is afraid of large water and loud noises. Loves to be in her parent’s arms. Curious and a sponge! Additional women roles – Heidi, store clerk – Females, 18 to 60 years old. Each are minor characters with a few lines of dialogue in a few scenes. (Not ethnic specific) Additional men roles – Swim instructor, doctor – Males, 18 to 60 years old, to play one of the characters listed. Each are minor characters with a few lines and scenes. (Not ethnic specific). Additional kid roles – Kids choir – Girls and boys ages 7 to 12 to play/sing in a children’s choir. Kids will sing two Christmas songs at the Senior Day Center. They need to be brave enough to sing but not professional singers. (All ethnicities welcome and desired. There are no speaking parts, so have your child sing their favorite Christmas song. Have them also answer two to three questions about someone they admire.)Holt Hamilton said both seasoned and unseasoned actors are invited to audition for the film. In fact, he said, they have had success with both types of actors.
“We’re looking for the right people to play the parts, and sometimes, that’s someone that’s very experienced that comes in and does beautifully well, and sometimes, that’s somebody that has no experience that comes on board, so we’re very open to that,” he said.
If you’re considering taking a shot at one of the parts, you’d better get on it – the deadline for audition submission is Feb. 22.