We love winter in Minnesota. Or do we hate it?
To be sure, winter in Minnesota is a natural and social enigma. Meteorologically, it follows a general storyline that is synchronized by the sun, yet can be wildly unpredictable from week-to-week, and even from one season to the next. Socially, winter is a complex and polarizing character that inspires adulation, contempt, empathy, bitterness, bliss and misery--often all in a single person! And, more than any other season in Minnesota, its character is fading rapidly into a barely-recognizable version of its former self. What will this mean meteorologically, and more importantly, what will it mean to us?
In this documentary, we explore Minnesota's winter as both a scientific topic and a social and cultural experience. We blend concise and engaging descriptions of its meteorological plot-points, with the candid sentiments of the people who work, play, suffer, and otherwise live with it. We revel in its beauty, we laugh at our confounding relationships with it, and we mourn its ongoing demise. This is the story of our region's most iconic season; This is The Story of Winter.
I, Kenny Blumenfeld, am a weather-obsessed occasional professor who likes writing and telling stories and had been dreaming of a movie project that I called, "The True Story of All The Seasons." Alec Johnson is a full-time professor, a professional photographer, and most importantly, a Type-A++ hyper-focused creative freight train-perfectionist who saw me standing in the tracks, contemplating my next contemplation, and said, "Hey Kenny, I'll make your damn movie. I'll make it this winter!" Neither of us had a second of movie-making experience at that point. It was Fall 2012.
Shortly thereafter, we set out to make The Story of Winter, which we intended to be an intelligent and entertaining description of how winter behaves, largely from a meteorological perspective. Alec began shooting b-roll of winter scenes from different parts of the state, and experimenting with video and audio techniques. I planned out all the topics I thought we needed to cover. We began recording segments of me explaining how winter works.
We realized quickly that the story needed a human element to keep it from seeming like a lecture, and to connect with the common experiences that make stories stories. So, we began incorporating candid interviews with volunteers and passersby about their sentiments and experiences with winter.
Even with this new human element added, it became clear to us that our experience with winter is not just a sidebar to the meteorological story of it, and neither is the winter season a mere a backdrop to our lives. Instead, winter in Minnesota defines our experience and is deeply infused into our activities, thoughts and moods. It is a major part of our cultural identity. Everyone in Minnesota experiences Winter. And everyone has to respond and adjust to it.
Of course, these revelations came to us right as winter was ending. Alec produced several rough cuts of what we had gathered so far, and we shared them with many friends and colleagues. Based on a combination of their feedback, and our own new insights on how we now wanted the story to go, we began re-imagining the project and planning for the 2013-14 winter.
Where We Stand Now
We have learned a lot in the last year. We know the whole story this time and have storyboarded the entire movie. We have every meteorological topic distilled to a concise yet informative segment. We have mapped out the b-roll footage we would like to get. We have written down the questions we want to ask.
We already began filming in August for the 2013-14 winter. We wanted to get a head start because Winter does not wait until winter to announce its arrival; the weather and the natural landscape often foretell seasonal changes long before the new season begins. And people are already beginning to signify a coming change with their activities too.
We will finish this film no mater what because we are very excited about the story we are telling.
How We Will Use the Funds
We will use the money we raise from Kickstarter for key equipment purchases, to pay for some help with graphics, video editing and audio, and to offset some of the costs associated with traveling around the state to collect b-roll, shoot new segments, and to conduct interviews. Ultimately, all of the funds would lead to a higher-quality product and ultimately, a better experience for the viewers.
We think we have a great story to tell and are extremely appreciative of anything you can give. We look forward to sharing our film with you at the screening party!
Risks and challenges
Of course, we cannot control the weather. The 2012-2013 winter didn't really show up until January but then didn't leave until May. The previous winter did not exist. We are expecting and hoping to get new footage of winter at its finest, and of people enjoying or grudgingly tolerating it. If this winter does not deliver, we will stitch together some of last-year's footage and will have to shoot our segments in whatever the weather serves up.
Also, we are serious about this project and have worked hard to become efficient and technically sound. That said, we are a shoestring operation and have limited equipment. If our main camera were to fail, it would be difficult to deliver the final product with the level of quality we want to achieve. But we will deliver; we are devout problem-solvers and always find a way to move forward. Equipment failure is a risk though; it's one we try to minimize, but it is a risk nonetheless.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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