Story by Ray Seidel
Hollywood film producer “Skip” (Sal Landi) has been in the fast lane to flip city for some time. Now he finds his hedonistic lifestyle has resulted in an advanced case of hepatitis C. He is urged in the most animated fashion by his doctor to waste no time in getting a partial liver transplant from an adult relative.
Meanwhile his estranged son of the past 15 years, Danny (Matt Dallas of KYLE XY), has been without a rudder and living an aimless life, finding more trouble than anything else. After crashing a party and being summarily evicted, and with his 25 year old bike failing to start in front of the masses, he vents his anger at a motorcycle shop’s window with a wrench on the way home.
Skip sets his sights on Danny, who as it happens has been in the care of Skip’s sister Carrie (Jane Higginson) for some time. But having largely been out of their lives for years, how best to lubricate his way into their hearts in exchange for his son’s liver? His phone calls get a cold reception. Arriving unannounced at Christmas dinner darkening their doorstep makes things even worse. Time is running out for Skip, as his doctor regularly reminds him.
Skip is then dealt a new hand of cards to play his son. First, the police trace the vandalism at the motorcycle shop to Danny, who then finds himself in jail. Skip’s deep pockets and well-paid lawyer can get Danny out, using carefully crafted strings attached to keep Skip close. Second, Skip finds a 1917 Indian motorcycle in the old family barn. He hopes that rebuilding the bike might interest Danny. Third, Skip finds a nubile nifty in motorcycle mechanic Shelby (Alison Haislip), who could possibly become a love interest for Danny.
Danny, having taught himself how to con people, falls for none it. Depression is anger turned inwards, and Danny is at the point of suicide …a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Yet spending time with Shelby, he finds he is not unique in having parents with whom one feels betrayed. Rebuilding the Indian leads to the rebuilding of emotions on many fronts with rechristened eyes. But will Danny connect with his father? With Shelby? Will Skip beat his illness as he discovers his love for his son?
Scheduled for International and domestic release this year, The Indian has gotten rave reviews across the US and in Europe including Best Ensemble Cast- Monaco Film Festival, Best feature – Cinema City IFF, Best Newcomer—Matt Dallas and Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress – Jane Higginson, Breckenridge Festival of Film.
Jack’s approach to story telling, much the same as other creator / producers such as Rod Serling or Gene Roddenberry, wherein besides the immediate satisfaction of the juxtaposition of sweet caramel popcorn and salty peanuts, there’s the “prize” that stays with you afterwards, the bit o Truth, the message in the story. Much as was the case in Roger Donaldson’s “World’s Fastest Indian,” this “Indian” is not your typical Hollywood formula film, but a story with heart.
Much praise has been given to Matt Dallas—who has achieved teen heartthrob status to millions of fans as star of the hit ABC Family Channel TV series KYLE XY—and rightfully so. Matt’s evocative portrayal of “Danny”, the emotionally wounded son of Skip is an accomplished performance, subtle and layered with minimal dialogue. “The Indian has a great story with strong performances, and is a very enjoyable and touching film”, Matt said recently after watching the movie for the first time, “and there’s a huge audience for films with a positive message like The Indian.”
Cementing the story of pain, redemption, alienation and love, is the remarkable, solid performance of Alison Haislip, who has also starred in “Farewell Bender”, “Coffee”, and “Indigo Hearts.” “Shelby was one of my favorite characters to play. She’s tough and vulnerable at the same time. I think there’s a stereotype out there that a woman who knows her way around a bike must be a word that rhymes with “bike” but begins with a “D”. It’s great to portray someone who can play in a man’s world and not lose her sense of femininity. I love that the film as a whole centers around something as unique as an Indian motorcycle but on a much wider scale, grasps our need as people to be loved.”
Alison’s character rides a Sportster 883, however she says “I had never even SAT on a motorcycle before this film! I just looked like a girl who knew what she was doing. One of our producers rode them, and he taught me enough to get through the film. I’ve heard I fake it pretty well. (Wink!) I definitely have had a new found appreciation for bikes since making this film.”
It seems Sal Landi wasn’t TOTALLY acting as Skip: “I had pinched a nerve in my back just before we started shooting the scenes where I was sick and dying so that really helped me a lot with the characters physicality. Divine providence?” Sal sees the prize in the package. “I think The Indian is beautiful in its simplicity, it’s just a little story, and you either go for the ride or not, pardon the pun, and it seems as if most people do.”
Audience response to The Indian bears this out. One viewer vowed to “get on a plane tomorrow morning” to go see the three-year-old boy he left behind with his estranged girlfriend. Older audience members have cried, remarking “that was my father.” It also turns out that teen test audiences relate strongly to the parental abandonment that both Danny and Shelby experience in the film, something that writer/director James Gorrie did not anticipate. “If it helps someone get through that, then it’s all to the good,” Gorrie observed.
“The Indian” actually began in the workshop of James Gorrie’s grandfather as years ago he would watch him work on Indians in various stages of disrepair, his grandfather claiming to have ridden them back in 1918. As his grandfather neared the end of his life, a gray-haired bushy bearded man in aviator glasses offered to buy all the Indians right on the spot. The grandfather was not prepared to sell them and said so. The man doubled and tripled his offer. The grandfather told the visitor he thought he’d just keep them for his grandchildren who might take an interest in them down the road. The man understood, shook the grandfather’s hand, and left. Some years later when the grandfather was asked who the stranger was who offered to buy all the Indians, he thought for a moment and said “Some fellow named Steve McQueen.”
Later, “The Indian” was born, starring James grandfather’s 1917 Indian.