Corn Fields, Soybean Fields, and Anxiety: Making a Feature Film in Tyler, MN

A mischievous, bordering on masochistic pleasure exists in making ultra-low budget feature films, and those involved have to be out of their gourd in one way or another. A 12-hour-a-day circus of artists, technicians, and anxious producers playing tag on walkie-talkies only to manufacture realities or surrealities (or fail completely). Objectivity and subjectivity blend in what will hopefully appear a fully human experience on screen, but with a twist of tone and affect. This is our job.

Typical Minnesota clouds

What 50% of southern Minnesota looks like. The other half is corn.

Working on location throws curve balls. This particular shoot rendered flies. Lots and lots of flies. Jesus, is SW Minnesota full of flies! There's nothing quite like being stuck in a 1970s Winnebago minus air conditioning plus horse flies. Combining that with the body heat and anxiety of five to eight people, you've got yourself a mental-breakdown cocktail. We all felt a little like this, I'm sure:

She gets it

Well, this shoot served up a full platter of Holy Crap with a healthy side of shenanigans. From drunken karaoke at a Danish folk school to filming at the infamous Corn Palace of South Dakota, not a dull day was to be had on the production of Hap and Ashley (working title, wink wink). As an Assistant Camera, opportunities to pull the ole DSLR rarely surface, but the ever-ready iPhone, to my chagrin, has made quite the b-camera (see Instagram feed for proof). This trip has solidified three things in my brainβ€”firstly, that I need to invest in a laptop; secondly, that media, photography, and self marketing really are changing form; thirdly, that for someone who haphazardly blossomed in the beginning of the internet age and for a brief time basically lived digitally, I am surprisingly out of touch with how to present material to a wider audience. How I do the Instagram? How I put pretty picture in front of face? Hello? Anyone out there? It's dark in here!

The scorpion's tail ready to strike

These are only some of the thoughts on the mind of an AC while on duty. Other thoughts include: "I wonder if they know the director fell asleep," "don't blow the focus, moron," "they want me to mount the camera WHERE," "you know, managing a grocery isn't so bad," and "fuck it." 

The UPM chomps on the moon

So really what I'm trying to say is that filmmaking on this scale blows the pants off of most "traditional" employments and truly must be seen to be believed. 

Now, I present a series of photos shot on the periphery of production. If you try really hard, you can imagine the sort of tomfoolery happening somewhere outside of each frame.

Our heartthrob grip-extraordinaire in dreamy 8mm

The gate of hell

Creepy Danish folk school

The man, the myth, the AD

Fearless leader and a tree

The moon rises over Tyler

The elusive Rainbow Spout


Modern fisherman

Bad moon hiding

Locations and PA dance under the stars

Now, I'm not saying it was aliens, but...

Fort Belmont...and flowers

Locations manager on the job

The DP and key grip discuss the finer things, like animal crackers

Second AC rethinking her life decisions

Dylan exploring

Dylan Looks at Things: A Series


Despair in black and white

Sleepy time

Survived another one.