How has the relationship between art and its consumers evolved over the past several years? There are a number of different ways in which we’ve seen it manifest. From one vantage point, you have a series like “Longmire” which was canceled by A&E and due by and large to the support of its fans, was eventually picked up by Netflix. Season 4 of the series is now filming in New Mexico. Following this up from another perspective, you have the rise in crowdfunding, which has enabled many projects the ability to get off of the ground with the help of backers. In turn, this enables the creators to have the freedom that they want without as much overhead interruption.
We have an interesting cross-section of these two different things to discuss today courtesy of Cassidy Freeman. While she is in the process of filming new “Longmire” episodes as Cady Longmire, she is also helping to raise money on Indiegogo for “Cortez,” a movie she is producing that has deep ties of its own to New Mexico. There are a variety of different perks available for your contribution to the project, and above all you get the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to support a personal, compelling story in the process. We’ve included the Indiegogo video of the film below if you want to check it out.
We spoke with Freeman via email this week to talk a little about the project, along with getting a brief status report on “Longmire” and also to see what the expanding relationship between art and its consumers feels like from her perspective.
Cassidy Freeman – What immediately drew me to Cortez was the theme of second chances and the perspective shaped definition of happiness. I love seeing movies that I can relate to. I love getting to know characters that seem real and like people I actually know. There is a sadness to Cortez. It was described once as Sudade, which is a portugese word defined as a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia. That person who you never told you loved, or that person you loved, but had to let go. We can all relate to that feeling. And Cortez provides its characters with the opportunity to change the inevitability of that feeling. It’s what we all live for, a chance at fulfillment and happiness…and when we try for it, we find out what really matters.
I am also drawn to Cortez because of the people I’m working with. Too often you meet kindred spirits, that you know you could make beautiful art with, spend your time creating with, and instead you all wait for someone to hire you. I’ve found a group of people (and it keeps growing) with whom I want to make things with. Cortez was born from [writers / stars] Cheryl Nichols and Arron Shiver…and the team keeps growing.
I feel to a certain extent that New Mexico is still overlooked as a filming location, even with Longmire (subbing for Wyoming) and Breaking Bad / Better Call Saul utilizing it. You’ve spent plenty of time there the past few years, so what have you taken away from the scenery and the atmosphere of being there?
New Mexico is very unique place, and one that I think people usually think they get, but they don’t. Not until they spend enough time here. They don’t call it the Land Of Enchantment for nothing. (Some people find it so hard to leave that they call it the Land Of Entrapment.) One thing about New Mexico that is fascinating, and why it’s so good to film here, is its varying landscapes. It’s one of the reasons we can substitute it for Wyoming without too much trouble. There are beautiful mountains here and Santa Fe, where we shoot Longmire, is about 7,000 ft in elevation. We are shooting Cortez in Taos, which is even a bit higher and the high desert provides vistas seen nowhere else. There is a sense of acceptance and authenticity here. You have no idea who you’re going to meet at the coffee shop, but chances are, they’re going to have a good story. It feels human here and tough and breathtaking and old all at the same time. People have been walking this land for hundreds of years. New Mexico feels wise.
There are always other shows and movies filming in Santa Fe while Longmire is in production. The state supports us with incredible crews and very talented people in all fields of film production. I’ve never worked with happier, more goal oriented people. It really feels like a family.
On my days off, I’m so excited to find a new hike, spend time with a co-actor or local friend, eat some AMAZING food or find some shade with my dog in a park and read. I know I’m working, but since I love what I do so much and with what New Mexico has to offer, it feels more like a retreat. That’s why I’m so excited to make a film here. Cortez is as much about love and happiness and second chances as it is about New Mexico. I’m eager to share the magic of this place in film. I feel like with Longmire, we get to partake in its fun, but the audience is left thinking we’re elsewhere.
Is there any emotion or particular thought that you hope potential viewers of Cortez take away from it?
I’d never tell anyone what to feel after seeing a film. One of my most favorite things is how the same film can affect people in such different ways. But something I would hope for people after seeing Cortez is to feel less alone. That is the power of film. Especially in the ways in which we can share film so quickly and so far. It is current day story telling…and storytelling is healing, it is connecting and it helps us see one another. It helps us find empathy and grace. I would hope someone seeing Cortez would feel some of that.
You’ve been back in New Mexico for a little while now working on Longmire season 4. Has the work felt any different to you than it did the first three seasons, now that the show has a new home in Netflix?
We’re currently shooting episode 3, and although that seems like it’s still early, I know it goes by so quickly. Time flies when you’re having fun! And although the bones of this show will always be the same: great stories, strong authentic characters, culture, conflict, etc….it feels bigger now that we’re on Netflix. Although the fans may not love that they have to wait a little bit longer for the season (since it all comes out at the same time early this fall), it give us more freedom and lets us craft the season as a 10 hour movie. Netflix is such a cool platform because of this. They are also real excited about the show and eager for us to let us spread our wings. I think the fans will feel fuller episodes…more organic feeling stories and no commercials!
Whether it be projects in crowd-funding like Cortez, or the widespread campaign to save Longmire on social media, have the past six months taught you anything new about the relationship between art and its fans? Is this a relationship you’ve seen evolve and change in general over your career so far?
I think the connection between art and it’s fans has changed so much…and the rules that used to apply, don’t. Entertainment is becoming a la carte, and people are liberated to choose that which they want to watch and that which they want to spend their money on. The avenues by which we can all intake media is overwhelming…but it is also pretty exciting. We’ve all heard stories of incredible crowdfunding successes and I find them inspiring. People are willing to join up to be a part of something. There is a great Ted Talk with Amanda Palmer about the Art of Asking. In her career as a musician she’s found more success in asking people to pay for her music rather than requiring them to. In a climate where everyone is scared of piracy and over saturation…this is a revolutionary idea. The more we connect with people, share our stories, let them peek behind the curtain that gets more transparent every day, the more people are willing to ante up…share a small amount to make a big difference. Just 10 years ago fans were not able to connect with someone they admired immediately with a 140 character compliment or request to be seen. We can all ask now, hopefully without shame, for the help we need, the content we want to see and to give admiration to those we look up to. I’m always ready to cheer for the things I love and support, and crowdfunding, Twitter, social media etc. gives us the chance to connect and be heard. Side note: don’t forget to go out and smell nature…meet your friends face to face…day dream….we would have nothing to cheer for if we lost our humanity…if we lost the reason to tell stories in the first place: Each other.
First of all, thanks to Cassidy for these answers! There’s some really thought-provoking stuff in here on subjects we’ve thought about a lot over the years, and hopefully hearing from her will allow you to be as excited to support the “Cortez” project as you are to see “Longmire” later this year. If you missed it earlier, the campaign link is here, and you can also follow the film on Twitter.
As always, you can visit our “Longmire” archive to find some other stories on the subject of the show. Also, you can sign up here to score some other TV news on all we cover via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photos: Netflix, A&E, “Cortez.”)