With all the possibilities around the world, what is the “it” that keeps people here in the Twin Cities? We suspected the answer to the question “Why We’re Here” was both simple and incredibly nuanced — worthy of art. We took our camera to the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul to find people willing to talk, unscripted, on film. The result is our collective love poem to the Twin Cities.
We could have approached local celebrities, but we were more interested in talking to regular Twin Citians, people like us. In the spring and summer of 2010, we brought our camera to four locations – the Stone Arch Bridge, the St. Paul Farmers’ Market, Loring Park and the Cabooze/Whiskey Junction – to hear what they had to say. John Munson of the New Standards, the Twilight Hours, Semisonic and Trip Shakespeare agreed to create an original score. We’re happy he did. We hope you are too. Adam Olson and Sam Heyn contributed their considerable camerawork and editing talents, respectively.
Produced in association with the Minnesota Culture Club.
Why We're Here: Twin Cities
Hunger-Free Minnesota, a statewide initiative to fight hunger, asked us to create a short piece to help launch their $40 million campaign. Together we agreed that the film should be less about facts and figures and more about the stories of real people needing food assistance in the state. Our idea was to create something beautiful that would express our shared humanity and connection. We hope we succeeded.
We interviewed people at three food shelves across Minnesota – one outside the metro area in St. Paul Park, one in northern Minnesota in Duluth, and one in southern Minnesota in Rochester.
We were fortunate that one of our favorite musicians, the talented Mason Jennings, agreed to let us use two of his songs in the film. Please, drop us a line and let us know what you think about the film. Thanks for watching.
The Minneapolis Foundation
The Minneapolis Foundation, one of the leading philanthropic organizations in the Twin Cities, asked us to create a piece to tell the stories of some of the people they work with in the community. The resulting video was shown at their annual meeting and is also featured on the home page of their website.
Over the course of a two-day shoot we interviewed thirteen “changemakers” at work on the frontlines to improve the quality of life for everyone in the Twin Cities. The Mill City Museum and the Minneapolis Central Public Library graciously donated their spaces for the shoots. deVon Gray (dVRG) of the hip-hop group Heiruspecs created an original moving piano score for the piece.
Many thanks to our interview subjects, who work in the areas of education, the arts, youth development, housing, immigration reform, workforce development, and human rights: Bill Blazar, Yvonne Cheung Ho, George Ellis, Tom Fulton, Cheryl & Jake Jacobsen, Louis King, Gloria Perez, Stephanie Rich, Terry Saario & Lee Lynch, John Sullivan and Vallay Varro.
Why We Give Back - The Minneapolis Foundation
We were humbled when, after seeing our work, Guild Incorporated reached out to us to create a piece that would tell the story of their organization through the lens of one of their clients. Guild Incorporated touches the lives of thousands in Minnesota, providing wrap-around, integrated treatment and services to people with mental illness so they can lead quality lives. On a lovely summer day we filmed Shirley, along with her son Chevy and her caseworker Molli.
We were honored to get to know Shirley, a vibrant and resilient woman who is now back at the center of her large and loving family and also working in the community, thanks to Guild’s good work. Guild has worked with many, many others to help them rejoin their families and communities. It is an effective, thoughtful caring organization and we are proud to have worked with them.
Adam Levy of The Honeydogs graciously shared with us his song, “Everything In Its Place,” about his son’s own struggles with mental illness. His band Liminal Phase also lent us two tunes.
The resulting video was shown at their 2012 Ladder of Hope events which were, in all, attended by nearly 1,000 people, and is also featured on the organization’s website.
Guild Incorporated: Shirley's Story
Artspace is the leading real estate developer of the arts in the United States. For 34 years they have created live/work housing, artist studios, arts centers and commercial space for arts-friendly businesses all over the country.
Having provided live/work space for thousands of artists in more than 30 cities, large and small, from New York to Galveston, Seattle to Duluth, Artspace has a proven economic redevelopment and community revitalization model. They came to us seeking a video that would tell the story of why Artspace matters, from the very human side of the artists who live in their buildings. We crowdsourced footage from their resident artists around the country to hear from them how living there has made a difference in their lives.
We were fortunate to work with the Stepkids on the score. The Stepkids are a rising psychedelic funk soul group who have played venues and festivals around the world, including Bonnaroo in 2013.
“City Love” by Communist Daughter
Johnny Solomon of Communist Daughter approached us to make a video for "City Love" from the band's 2012 EP, Lions & Lambs. We decided to take Johnny and Communist Daughter singer Molly Moore on a meandering summer's evening tour of "their" Twin Cities, visiting the spots that hold meaning for them. We wanted to create a video that would be instantly recognizable, not only to those who live here, but also to those who have left the Cities. It's also a shout out to anyone who has love for their city -- a complicated love tangled with present and past experiences and memories.
"City Love" by Communist Daughter
Proving that we really do live in a 24/7 world, we shot this video for MnDOT of the Mayor of Hastings, MN driving over the new Mississippi River crossing at the moment the bridge was opened for business – which happened to be 1am. Armed with GoPro cameras, a sunroof, monopods, time lapse wizardry and Red Bull, we captured some of the Mayor’s late night thoughts about the new bridge (the longest free-standing tied-arch bridge in North America) and the iconic old powder blue bridge. To see some still photography of the new bridge being built, check out MnDOT’s photo gallery.
Are You MN Enough?
Twin Cities Public Television asked us to create a web episode for a new, original series called Are You MN Enough? Ten producers each took on a stereotype about Minnesotans and were asked to either prove or disprove it. We decided to tackle the stereotype that all Minnesotans are Scandinavian – something that anyone who spends time here knows is not the case, but that lots of folks not from here probably think is true. We took to the streets to have some fun and see what real Minnesotans had to say on the topic.
Are You MN Enough? | Everyone is Scandinavian | TPT Rewire
After creating Shirley’s Story for Guild Incorporated, Guild asked us to profile another of their clients. We were proud to meet Dianna, her son Grant and Dianna’s caseworker Brittany and to share Dianna’s story of hope and positivity.
We are especially glad that organizations like Guild Incorporated exist. Their dedicated work has made our community a better place for all of us to live. Guild Incorporated touches the lives of thousands in Minnesota, providing wrap-around, integrated treatment and services to people with mental illness so they can lead quality lives. In addition to Dianna, Guild has worked with many, many others to help them rejoin their families and communities.
The video was shown at their Ladder of Hope annual events which were attended by over 1,000 people and is also featured on the organization’s website.