41. Land of Corn

by 4linnea

Two months ago, I traveled to the land of corn. I didn’t go for the corn.  And the town I went wasn’t a place of corn.  Surrounded by corn-yes, but defined by corn no.  Decorah, Iowa.  A small, artsy, organic, local, college town.  The town is home to Storypeople.  A wonderful company producing beautiful sculptures and prints of artwork and words by Brian Andreas.  Sweet, snarky Brian Andreas.  I journeyed with the goal of filming my short documentary about the company and Brian as an independent study.  I left with footage galore, a lack of rest, a nasty head cold and new friends! Yay! Cheeziness!

Here’s a sneak peak to some of the (uncooperative) filming.BrianoncameraUncooperative is the word which least defines the trip and the interactions with the storyfolk.  They were beyond accommodating, welcoming, friendly, and warm.  Everyone was willing to share stories and meals, give encouragement and hugs, and they all accepted our sarcasm (by responding with their own sarcasm).  The our I am referring to is myself and my stepmom Jackie.  (pictured above interviewing Brian)  When she came into my life, our shared love for Brian’s Storypeople art was unexpected, but connected us.  When I told her my (far-off) dream of making this whole deal happen, she made me promise that she could tag along to Iowa.  She said she would come even if it meant she couldn’t say a word.  I knew that wouldn’t happen.  Ever.  But I still wanted her to come.  So, once this idea became more of a reality, it was fun to make everything happen and share a road trip with her.  We sang and played 20 questions and the celebrity game (Harvey Kissinger, anyone? *a mash-up of Harvey Fierstein and Henry Kissinger, obviously*) 

Beautiful.  We stayed at the always classy Super 8 and made friends there, too!  Our first morning, at breakfast a nice couple sits down next to us and the man says (with a nice German accent), “I’m Frans. And this is my wife Marina.”  We were taken aback at first wondering who he was talking to, then realized he was just a friendly man.  Who woulda thunk?  We talked with Frans and Marina and found out they were from Germany, visiting places around the country, and were in Decorah for a family reunion with distant relatives, who live in a nearby cornfield, I think. They were the sweetest!  And they made my day!  We saw them again throughout the week, when they looked in the StoryPeople studio and waved at us, while we were filming.  Hi!!!!  The manager of the Super 8 was a pleasant Indian man, who, when one day we asked if they had any more bananas, shot up out of his seat and said, “Oh yes, hold on.”  As we waited, and a good ten minutes passed, and I made a joke about him going to South America to get them, we realized he must have ran out to buy some more.  And sure enough, he walks in with a grocery bag full of bananas.  We were very thankful.  For the bananas and for the fact that we had something to laugh about.

The week we spent in Decorah was one in which I often spoke in accents, laughed a lot, and grew.  I took on the project as, essentially, a one-man band.  Jackie was a wonderful help with setting up, rolling up cords :), and thankfully, doing an amazing job as the interviewer- which I had a few questions prepared, but essentially told her, “eh, you’re really good at talking.  You’ll do fine.”  She did have to learn she couldn’t verbally respond, but had to only nod and not respond with large hand gestures, in case they got in front of the camera.  God love ya, I know all of that was the hardest part for you.  Thank you! Outside of that responsibility, I took on the jobs of lights, audio, camera, and everything else.  I had to have my sh*t together.  Batteries needed to be charged, memory cards needed to be dumped, mics had to be turned on and have correct levels, lights had to not make people like the keeper of the crypt, the shot needed to be in focus, correctly exposed, color balanced etc. etc. etc.  I don’t do too well with being in charge of all the details.  It’s so much pressure! Eh, but I got it good.  I’m blessed that I was able to do all this and make it happen.  With really only one or two stress breakdowns.  And Jackie and Brian were there to give hugs and say encouraging tidbits like “Wow, just wow!” “you really are something” “don’t worry, this will be just as it will be.”  I joke, of course they (and everyone) were actually encouraging, but throughout the week, we liked to throw anti-compliments like those at each other.

I left that trip feeling proud of myself for taking initiative and having enough confidence to travel 10 hours away with equipment and film by myself with only my knowledge.  I will be better at every aspect in my field because of that trip, and for that I’m so thankful.

The documentary will be finished next month and I will be sure to share it will you, friends.  The editing is going well- I have so much great and colorful footage to work with and I’m happy to say that Brian’s son, Gabe, is a talented musician whose songs will be providing the soundtrack. Can’t wait to share!


(from left to right, starting at top: the colorful exterior of the StoryPeople workshop; Jackie posing in laughter and adoration; myself being loopy on the drive home; Ellen Rockne giving her best to the camera; Kaykay nommin on some Mabe’s pizza, (Sorry Brian, Matthew, and Gabe, but we enjoyed it) while we were being rambunctious and loud customers; Brian and I hammin it up, with much love).

P.S. This post is dedicated to the individuals Jackie forced me to take photos of on the drives to and from Iowa, and during our time there.  Her inspirational title for the side project was called: Humans of the Road Trip (a sad (and probably demeaning tribute) to the brilliant Humans of New York).  The people had to be described as weird in order to get a picture taken, but it turned into her yelling at me (too late, I might add), “Ooh! There’s people walking over there! Get a picture! Get a picture!”  So, as much as I applaud her creativity, I now have half a dozen (yes, that few) photos of blurry people, whose story is completely unknown.  So thank you, folks, for letting me take creepy photos of you.

Over & Out

Currently listening to: The Hunts- Make This Leap