Archive for the ‘Funding’Category

Every donor has a story

Huge thanks to Bob Henderson for his extremely generous donation of $1000 toward the production of The Singing Wilderness. Bob and I met last spring at a symposium held at Northland College, Sigurd’s alma mater, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Sigurd Olson Environmental InstituteBob and I were both speakers at the gathering, and when he introduced himself after my presentation he was so enthusiastic in his support for the documentary he practically pressed the cash into my hand as we shook.  Thanks Bob!

His book Every Trail Has A Story is a remarkable illumination of heritage travel in Canada, an exploration of wild places where you can still ‘smell the history.’ His donation made possible our most recent trip in September to film more wilderness footage. Look for a compilation of highlights from that trip coming soon.

Thanks also to the owners of fabulous Clearwater Lake Lodge on the Gunflint Trail, who donated canoe rentals in support of the project. Adam and Kasey Van Tassell bought the lodge, listed on the National Historic Register, about three years ago and have done an amazing job restoring the place to its former wonderful, rustic splendor. It really is the quintessential north woods lake lodge, with rooms in the main lodge, a bunkhouse, and an assortment of secluded cabins right on the lake with some of the most splendid views of the Boundary Waters you’ll ever find. They are a first rate outfitter who will personally attend to your plans and offer custom tailored support to your expedition.


12 2013

100 Miles in The Singing Wilderness

This morning Josh Borchardt set out on a solo expedition through the Boundary Waters Wilderness to raise money and awareness for our film. Josh has helped out as a guide on two of our previous shoots and has proved himself to be an irreplaceable member of the crew. Josh will be out in the wilderness for about ten days by himself, experiencing the silence, solitude and wonder of the wilderness, made that much more wild by winter.

You can follow his movements live via GPS Spot tracker:

Day 1


As of about 3 p.m today you can see that Josh has reached his planned base camp on the eastern shore of Horse Lake. Tomorrow he plans to head up the nearby Horse River toward Basswood Falls, along the Canadian border. Here’s a map of his planned route:


Note that he is starting near the center of the map, entering at Mudro Lake, heading up the Horse River to Basswood, doubling back and finally coming out at Fall Lake.

Please consider supporting Josh in his cause by making a donation toward the production of “The Singing Wilderness” and click on one of the donate links to the right. Click on the IFP logo to make your contribution tax-dedictible – it’s the end of the year after all. Josh and I thank you for your support!


12 2012

Canoe paddle salad tongs, of course

My friend Dick Haskett, a very handy woodworker, came up with the idea to make a set of salad tongs in the likeness of a pair of canoe paddles. It was like this little revelation: you think, “well duh, someone must have done this already.” Something you feel like you’ve already seen, and grasped – but you haven’t. It’s just so natural that it seems familiar, even though it’s brand new.


Paddlecraft from Interstate Films on Vimeo.

He offered that single set at the silent auction for our fundraiser in the spring of 2010, and it was probably the most popular thing there. When I asked him about the possibility of making them in some quantity to help raise money for the project, he tinkered around in his wood shop up on the farm in North Branch Minnesota and finally came up with the idea to cut ‘blanks,’ which could then be crafted into paddles using a variety of tools, and hand sanding. I helped him out a bit and we managed to push out another half dozen sets, and I think they’re pretty damn nice. And we will make many more, if people want more. I am asking for $100 contribution toward the project for this premium. I know – no one needs a pair of canoe paddle salad tongs that badly. You have to want to see this film get made too. Thanks.


09 2012


To the following people who made our May shoot a reality, either through financial support or donation of services:

  • Professor Alan Brew at Northland College?and his “Pens and Paddles in the North Woods” students: Abby, Elise,?Katherine,?Matt, and Maureen.
  • My crew: Josh Borchardt, Nathan Oliver, and?Brad Studstrup, who volunteered their time and hard work.
  • Steve Piragis of Piragis Northwoods Company, for donation of canoe rental, paddles, PFDs, bear can, and generous discount on purchases.
  • Greg Seitz and Paul Danicic at?Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, for their endorsement, encouragement, and financial support.
  • Ann Schwaller and The US Forest Service, for letting us shoot inside Superior National Forest!
  • Byron and Alis Olsen, Steven Scollard, Bob Countryman, Mark Nolan, Jeffrey Anderson, David Roloff, Hans Gregersen, Thomas Warth,?Rocky Barker, Chris Jensen,?Carolyn Sundquist,?Mark Knox,?Hank Roberts,?Sharon Kaufman,?Tom Pinkerton, Timothy Fie, and others who wish to remain anonymous, for financial contributions.

Look for footage from this important section of the film soon! ?And thank you, thank you, thank you all who helped make it happen.


"Pens and Paddles" class in the BWCA




08 2011

Funding for the Next Big Thing

Dear Friends of ?The Singing Wilderness,?

If you are reading this, it?s probably because you?ve supported this project in the past.? And thanks to you, we were able to go to the Boundary Waters for five days last October and gather some pretty incredible footage, a sampling of which you can watch right here.? We also shot another key interview with Sigurd?s son Bob, and another with a 92 year-old woman in Ely who knew Sigurd and was inspired by him to become an outfitter.

After watching that clip online,?Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Communications Director Greg Seitz called me and asked if there was any way they could support the project, since it aligns so closely with their mission. ?After a meeting with Greg and Executive Director Paul Danicic in March, Friends of the Boundary Waters has featured the project on their website, in newsletters, and in several Tweets (!), and even pledged a financial contribution. ?As THE?premier advocacy organization for the BWCAW, their support means A LOT. ?Read their lovely, complimentary blog post about the film here.

I also made presentations in March?at the The Moving Pictures Collective New York City (MoPictive), and Docuclub Minnesota, where I got a lot of praise and a ton of great feedback. ?Thanks to?Melody Gilbert, the matriarch of the Midwestern documentary scene,?for her guidance and connections to the talented and vibrant Minnesota filmmaking community.

In December, the monthly?Good Age did a cover story about me and the film. ?You can download a PDF of the full issue?here. ?We’ve also been featured prominently on a number of great blogs, along with the footage, including??,?,,?, and? ?Thanks to all of you for helping us broaden our exposure.

In just the last three weeks the video had been visited almost 2500 times through these websites.? So, word is getting out.? We?re gaining momentum.? But our most important shoot to date is coming up in May, and we are lacking in the funds needed to undertake it.? A group of students from Northland College, Sig?s Alma Mater and home to the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, will they take to the lakes and rivers of the BWCAW for a two week canoe trip.? They will be studying the works of Olson, Thoreau, and other wilderness writers, recording their reflections, and finally, composing their own essays on what it means to live among the elements, to touch the infinite, and reconnect with our evolutionary origins.

This sequence, this story, which will be interwoven into the body of the documentary, stands to become the backbone, the lifeblood, and the living spirit of the film.? Interviews and wilderness footage can go, well, only so far in bringing Sigurd?s ideas to life. ?But?these eight students will embody the notion that wilderness can nourish the spirit where modern civilization and digital technology only leave it dulled, empty, and wanting. Or they won’t! ?Either way it will be interesting. ?Their observations, conversations, and insights discovered during their deep immersion into the wilderness will bring intimacy, perspective, and contemporary context to the film.

We?ve budgeted about $6000 for this shoot (this will cover costs for travel, food, lodging, and gear rental ? but NOT any sort of compensation for the crew, all of whom will be taking time off of paid work to give to the project).? I still have about $2500 left over from last spring?s fundraiser, but that leaves a considerable gap.? Please, if you can help with even a small contribution, donate now.


We start shooting the first week of May, so we ask that you MAKE YOUR DONATION NOW, if you want it to go toward this shoot (but we’ll certainly accept donations after that!).

Thank you everyone for your support in the past, and hopefully in the future!? But please don?t feel obligated ? many of you have been very generous already.? As a way of saying thanks we are offering everyone who donates $50 or more a DVD of the film when it is released (the goal is fall of 2012). ?That is cumulative and retroactive, for all of you who gave at the fundraiser last spring. ?I’m working on some more premiums to offer in the future too, for larger contributions ? one possibility is the clever, sweet, highly coveted canoe paddle salad tongs Dick Haskett hand-made for the fundraiser silent auction.? We just have to figure out how to make them in greater quantities!

Thanks everyone for your interest,?your patience,?your trust, and?your support. ?Please stay tuned…


04 2011