April 1, 2010 at 8:39 a.m.

Telling her mother's story, opened doors, enhanced filmmakers life

Telling her mother's story, opened doors, enhanced filmmakers life
Telling her mother's story, opened doors, enhanced filmmakers life

Somewhere in the digital archives of the Minnesota Historical Society there's a compact disc electronically embedded with Karin Green's mother's story.

Green was pleasantly gratified when her 10-minute mini-documentary was accepted by the MHS as part of its Moving Pictures Festival, and lately her sharing the story of creating the piece helps prolong that good feeling. This is something Green says anybody can do-- if you have a story to tell, are motivated and willing to learn.

The Stacy area woman recently showed her mini-documentary at the Chisago Lakes Area Library and talked about the doors that opened when she decided to pursue putting together "At Home with Audrey."

The Minnesota Historical Society puts out an annual call for entries for its Minnesota film festival; ingeniously disguising collecting and sharing Minnesota history as entertainment.

MHS has a theme for each year which festival entries need to be devoted to -- such as Second World War, The Boom Years, all about '1968' etc.

Green attended the 2007 festival and came away convinced she could put together a story just as compelling and artful as what she had viewed.

She said she did, "a lot of simmering on the idea" of entering the next festival. Documenting the homefront (The Topic) was especially appealing to her because, "...so much of what's been done about (the second world war era) is about the war action...while what was done by ordinary people back at home is a story worth knowing."

Around mid-June she began the taping in earnest, with a September entry deadline looming for the next MHS festival.

Green's 80-some-year-old mother Audrey was cooperative, and the only condition was she requested her daughter not show Audrey's face in the documentary. There's Audrey baby photos, her high school graduation picture, grainy home movies of the first baby carried into the home in St. Paul (transferred to digital), and you glimpse the current Audrey from the back, or see her hands. As part of the narration you hear her voice, which is a major reason why this piece is so endearing. Audrey's memories are honest, poignant.

Green said one of the most difficult parts of doing this project was paring all the interview and field trip footage, still photos and even the music down to the mandatory 10 minutes. "It felt a little ruthless" she said of the final editing. Still, At Home with Audrey covers lots of ground lovingly and truthfully.

Green explained the process of putting this together. As one who had not done this before she had to research information about cable television companies to get started. Because they have franchise agreements with local governments to use public rights-of-way, they provide equipment and training to their franchise areas.

Green went through the White Bear Lake Community Access program, but the Forest Lake and Chisago Lakes cable providers also have similar programs. (Chisago Lakes cable access studio is in the high school, the Forest Lake cable studio is in the business park off Greenway Ave.)

You can use the equipment free of charge if you will ultimately produce something the company can put on its public access channels.

Green explained, "They'll teach you about the equipment and let you use it, but they want to receive something for programming. But, to me, to be told I have to (air) my documentary was kind of a bonus."

There were multiple benefits in pursuing this project.

Along with having a wonderful product family members will cherish forever; the technical skills Green picked up help round out her life, keep her engaged.

"I watch other documentaries now and I understand what went into making them... the layers involved...which music do you put in, what kind of mood do you want to get across. Now I'm watching for how it's made."

She said she paid to attend White Bear Lake studio lessons in videotape editing and in camera use.

Every community access cable studio has different systems, but the digital editing equipment is complicated.

The biggest benefit, Green continued, was time spent with her mom.

They did all sorts of things they probably wouldn't have done such as visiting the exact spot where Audrey got engaged. "We spent hours together," Karin said. "I would just set up a camera and start talking with her. That was wonderful, an unexpected bonus, although looking back I should have known this from the start."

As for Audrey, she said she felt "like a star" when the final selections for the festival were shown on a full-sized moviehouse screen in The Twin Cities.

FYI...

There's Suburban Community Channels, in White Bear Lake, cable providers in Ramsey and Washington County communities. See www.scctv.org or contact 651-426-7338 extension one. Classes were $10.

Chisago Lakes Public Access www.chisagolakestelevision.com. Call 651-208-5778, Terry Vruno is the manager/coordinator. Hours when the equipment and/or studio are available are by appointment through him.

Chisago Lakes Community Education did offer an on-line film course "Making Movies with Windows XP" which you could see if it is still offered, by contacting community ed.

There's also an on-going Chisago County Veterans' Oral History Project, funded by a grant. Veteran videotaping sessions take place at the Chamber of Commerce offices next to the All County Veterans' Memorial in Lindstrom. If you aren't sure about your camera handling, or want to brush up on interviewing skills you might try volunteering to help with this.

Forest Lake LATV 10 can be reached at www.latvten.com or call 651-464-1142. Usually open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

The North Branch area is part of a multi-county US Cable franchising region and public access programming/equipment isn't kept at a site in North Branch. Call the Cambridge offices at 1-800-783-2356.


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