- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 19, 2011

VERONA, N.Y. (AP) - The Oneida Indian Nation is producing a $10 million feature film telling the story of its alliance with American colonists during the Revolutionary War.

Ray Halbritter, the Oneida Indian Nation representative and CEO of Nation Enterprises, said Tuesday that the movie will be shot this fall in central New York. It will be produced by Alex Siskin, producer of “Mr. Deeds.” The executive producer is Sid Ganis, former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Kees Van Oostrum, Emmy-nominated director of “Miss Rose White” and “Gettysburg,” is the director.

The film, with the working title “First Allies,” is based on the book “Forgotten Allies” by University of Houston historians Joseph Glatthaar and James Kirby Martin. Ganis said he read the book and thought it would make a good movie, so he got screenwriter Bob Burris to write a screenplay.

“It’s historical, but it’s really a movie filled with emotion and that’s what makes good movies,” Ganis said. “The emotion of making the choice between the British and the colonists, and then the family turmoil that will occur as that choice is being made. And, it was full of action.”

Ganis pitched the idea to the Oneida Nation, which agreed to bankroll and co-produce the film.

“This is going to be along the lines of a `Braveheart’ or `Last of the Mohicans,’” Halbritter said. “Very entertaining but with underlying historical accuracy.”

The film will depict a period when the Oneida way of life was threatened by the growing conflict between the colonists and the British monarchy. When the Oneida leaders decided to end their neutrality and lend their tactical expertise and manpower to the colonists, it stirred conflict within the Iroquois Confederacy because the Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga and Cayuga tribes remained loyal to the British.

Halbritter said scenes for the movie will be shot at the locations of key Revolutionary War battles in upstate New York, including Fort Stanwix in Rome and the nearby Oriskany Battlefield.