Understanding the lack of diversity of Indigenous people on TV and similar platforms has been something Jacob Pratt has always wanted to find solutions for.
Now he is, through the lens of a camera.
He started a production company in September called Skoden Entertainment in Los Angeles, Calif. It was shortly thereafter he and the production team landed its first huge gig with Disney.
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Pratt said they were signed to produce three mini-episodes showcasing Indigenous youth as part of the series called Use Your Voice.
“(Each episode features) young people that are making differences in trying to make changes within their community,” said Pratt. “It’s important these stories are being shared.”
Each project is roughly 60 seconds and is part of Native American Heritage Month. It is celebrated in the United States every November. The episodes are called Lands Wandered, Art and Activism, and Music and Bird Songs.
“Finding Indigenous youth who are inspirations to other Indigenous youth watching them for the first time on Disney,” Pratt said. “That’s what the goal was.”
Pratt was born on Cote First Nation and grew up on the George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan. He attended the First Nations University of Canada in Regina, before moving to Los Angeles to further his learning at Southern California University. When he completed his post-secondary education he had a master’s degree in science and social entrepreneurship with a focus in the entertainment industry.
“My goal was to understand the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry and start developing methods and address that. Ultimately that led to the creation of Skoden Entertainment.”
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Pratt said Disney has been making an effort to be more socially aware, as they look to drop stereotyping of some cultures compared to years past.
“They’ve come a long way as an organization of their shortcomings in the past,” Pratt said. “They have been (bringing) more diversity to their content which is great for everybody and us as Indigenous people.”
He said that’s a big reason why his team at Skoden Entertainment was hired for the project.
“All the characters are advocates for Indigenous cultures and social justice,” Pratt said. “We wanted to share each one of these stories because they are so different.”
Pratt said the company tries to keep much of the production crew Indigenous. Whether they are just starting out or have some experience, he said it’s important to grow and develop as many Indigenous team members as possible.
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Cinematographer and editor at Skoden Entertainment Timothy Ornelas said Pratt’s love and passion for storytelling and portraying characters within, allows for easy collaboration when it comes to creating content.
“We both are like-minded and have the same goals and ambitions,” Ornelas said. “We bring the same kind of identity into our pieces.”
Ornelas is from a First Nation in the L.A. area. He said they started working together after being introduced to each other a mixer event through Disney.
“(We both wanted to) bring a voice and perspective to a bigger company and push it to a wider audience for exposure.View link »
Pratt said discussions are ongoing between Disney and the company for future episodes.