Stars and filmmakers of the new Predator movie Prey discuss the importance of Native American representation and how the film is the first to be dubbed in the Native Comanche language upon release to the public.
Producer Jhane Myers and stars of the film Amber Midthunder (Naru) and Dakota Beavers (Taabe) discussed the importance of representing the Native cultures of the Comanche. As the film’s Native cultural advisor and producer, Myers, a Comanche and Blackfeet American Indian, brings her knowledge and language to Prey.
“It was a dream,” says Myers. “I mean, there will never probably be another project unless we do a sequel that would ever cross my path where I could use everything that I grew up learning.”
The cast participated in a four-week boot camp before filming began to prepare for the fights and weapons training with Comanche-style archery, spears, and tomahawks.
“What was cool about having Jhane was having somebody who specialized in the Comanche people,” says Amber Midthunder, who plays the lead character Naru. “These are her people. So having somebody who specialized in that knowledge and that history felt really special to me to connect with that, ’cause I’m not Comanche. But I am Assiniboine Sioux and also Northern Plains. So it’s very close to what my people did. It was cool to be able to show that to a big audience.”
Having the Comanche language is very important in the film. Was including the dialect something that was on the table from day one? Or was it something that came by developing the project?
JHANE: “You may want to ask that to Amber and Dakota because when they did their first auditions, we had them audition in Comanche. So from the wonderful insight of Dan, he always had asked if that was a possibility. And I said absolutely. And for me being Native and being Comanche, an enrolled Comanche tribal member, that’s what’s really important because we never, as an audience goer, I mean, I’m a big movie fan. I grew up on the Predator franchise. I’ve never seen a feature fully in my language. And one thing we do as native people when we watch films we watch to see if they at least get one or two things right that are authentic? When you do watch it on Hulu, you have the option of picking Comanche to watch a fully dubbed version in Comanche.”
Can you talk a little bit about the importance of including the Comanche language in the movie?
DAKOTA: “Whenever I got to go to LA to do the audition, it was about five days or something before I went; they gave me this full script of Comanche. And I was like, ‘dang.’ But I just went for it, man. And I just, I loved the crap out of it. And I think it would have been awesome to shoot entirely in Comanche. But I’m so happy that we got to dub it in Comanche, which we got all the original actors to do themselves, which you don’t normally get to do. So that was just wicked fun. And just to have that for preservation of the language, so kids can go back and watch it in the future. And it’ll be something fun that they can use to learn the language. I just think it was awesome.”
AMBER: Yeah, this is the first time upon release that a film will be released in a native language. Like other movies, Star Wars and Finding Nemo have gone back, and they’ve dubbed in Navajo. But this is the first time that on-release, a film is being released in a native language which is really cool. And obviously, it’s the native language to the people in the film.
“Prey” will stream August 5, 2022, as a Hulu Original in the U.S., Star+ in Latin America, and Disney+ under the Star banner in all other territories.
Set in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago, “Prey” is the story of a young woman, Naru, a fierce and highly skilled warrior. She has been raised in the shadow of some of the most legendary hunters who roam the Great Plains, so when danger threatens her camp, she sets out to protect her people. The prey she stalks, and ultimately confronts, turns out to be a highly evolved alien predator with a technically advanced arsenal, resulting in a vicious and terrifying showdown between the two adversaries. “Prey” stars Amber Midthunder (“The Ice Road,” “Roswell, New Mexico”), newcomer Dakota Beavers, Stormee Kipp (“Sooyii”), Michelle Thrush (“The Journey Home”), Julian Black Antelope (“Tribal”), and Dane DiLiegro (“American Horror Stories”) as the Predator. The film is directed by Dan Trachtenberg and written by Patrick Aison (“Jack Ryan,” “Treadstone”), with a story by Patrick Aison & Dan Trachtenberg based on characters created by Jim Thomas & John Thomas. It is produced by John Davis (“Jungle Cruise,” “Predator”), Jhane Myers (“Monsters of God”), and Marty Ewing (“It: Chapter Two”), with Lawrence Gordon (“Watchmen”), Ben Rosenblatt (“Snowpiercer”), James E. Thomas, John C. Thomas, and Marc Toberoff (“Fantasy Island”) serving as executive producers.