'The English' director worked with Pawnee, Cheyenne nations to get Native American representation right - Albuquerque Journal

‘The English’ director worked with Pawnee, Cheyenne nations to get Native American representation right

Blick
Chaske Spencer stars as Pawnee ex-cavalry scout
Eli Whipp in “The English.” (Diego Lopez Calvin/Drama Republic/BBC/Amazon Studios)

Filmmaking is never easy as there are obstacles always in place.

This would deter many – but not Hugo Blick.

During production for his latest series, “The English,” the writer/director had to move locations from Kansas and Canada to Spain.

“Being out in the middle of nowhere and you are taking 30 horses and a few wolves on location,” Blick says. “That was a challenge. We boiled down the filming schedule to what the horses could do. Once we calmed down and got a rhythm, it was very successful.”

“The English” takes the core themes of identity and revenge to tell a uniquely compelling parable on race, power and love. It is currently streaming on Prime Video.

An aristocratic Englishwoman, Lady Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt), and a Pawnee ex-cavalry scout, Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer), come together in 1890 middle America to cross a violent landscape built on dreams and blood.

Both of them have a clear sense of their destiny, but neither is aware that it is rooted in a shared past.

They must face increasingly terrifying obstacles that will test them to their limits, physically and psychologically.

But as each obstacle is overcome, it draws them closer to their ultimate destination – the new town of Hoxem, Wyoming.

It is here, after an investigation by the local sheriff Robert Marshall (Stephen Rea) and young widow Martha Myers (Valerie Pachner) into a series of bizarre and macabre unsolved murders, that the full extent of their intertwined history will be truly understood, and they will come face-to-face with the future they must live.

The series’ ensemble cast includes Rafe Spall, Tom Hughes, Toby Jones and Ciarán Hinds.

Blick is the mastermind behind the entire series and the idea for the show has been in his head for decades.

Because the series has a Native American lead in Whipp, Blick wanted to get it right.

“Once complete, I sent the scripts to Crystal Echo Hawk, CEO of IllumiNative, the Native-led racial and social justice organization,” Blick says. “She then introduced me to the representatives of the Pawnee and Cheyenne nations, each of whom are specialists in the cultural and military history of their respective nations. The journey taken with IllumiNative and the Pawnee and Cheyenne advisors, has been long and hugely rewarding.”

Blick
From left, Chaske Spencer, Emily Blunt and director Hugo Blick on the set of “The English,” in Spain. (Diego Lopez Calvin/Drama Republic/BBC/Amazon Studios)

When production began, Blick says being in set during the pandemic was weird, but there were bright spots.

“Everyone was so pleased to be out on location,” he says. “It seemed like the perfect time to get out and create something special.”

Blick and the crew shot the Western with natural light, often filming in the late afternoon.

“We shot it with the sun behind us,” he says. “It was about being clever with where to place the camera. Once we got the style down, it all moved forward.”

There was one day that sticks out in Blick’s memory.

He recalls having the wolves on set and the handler told production to let the wolves roam.

“No one let the tea desk know and of course the wolves head in that direction,” Blick says. “There were screams, but all was all right.”

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