Tracker Pixel for Entry

Big Tree, Small Axe

by Diane Miller | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | July 3rd, 2014

Photo by Kensie Wallner

Last April, HPR film editor and Concordia film professor Greg Carlson traveled to Toronto to watch his latest movie in front of a sold out crowd at largest documentary film festival in North America, Hot Docs.

Carlson’s “The Hammer and the Axe” was selected as a top 12 finalist in the International Documentary Challenge, a timed nonfiction filmmaking competition.

Having entered the Doc Challenge once in 2010 without advancing, Carlson said this year’s good news was a “total super awesome shocking surprise.” Around 200 to 300 films from cities all over the world, including Hong Kong, New York, Toronto and Seattle, were submitted this year.

Perhaps the film’s cold-blooded Midwestern unaffectedness attracted the judges this year. The five-minute documentary explores a genuine father-son-like relationship between blacksmith Doug Swenson and his apprentice Tim Jorgensen on a forge in the dead of winter – March, actually … just watch.

Originally envisioned to be a sort of inside look at blacksmithing production, the film’s focus shifted to be an inside a look at Doug and Tim’s unique relationship.

“So much of our movie inches on the fact that both Tim and Doug are really interesting people and their relationship is really cool,” said Tucker Lucas, the film’s editor and co-producer.

Jorgensen has his master’s degree in folk studies and culture. His interests heavily lie in Viking culture. He was awarded a grant through the North Dakota Council on the Arts to pursue his interest in blacksmithing and ended up working with Swenson. It’s been about a year since Jorgenson has been Swenson’s apprentice.

“I’d show up at Doug’s shop ready to do some blacksmithing and I just ask him stuff like, ‘So how do I change this windshield wiper now?’” Jorgensen said to HPR, laughing. “And he would know. He’s got lots of advice other than what to do with a hot piece of iron.”

Jorgensen opening up about his meaningful relationship with Swenson was key, Carlson said. “As soon as I heard that, I looked over at Kensie (Wallner, the still photographer) and Tucker who were there and I just knew that was going to be it – the thing that you hope for.”

With randomized, time-sensitive competitions such as these, Carlson said gambling and risk taking is unavoidable, especially considering the crew couldn’t plan ahead much.

“The first night we went out to the forage, I had not met Doug, I had not seen the place and we had already agreed this is what it was going to be,” Carlson said.

Remarkably, Carlson and his crew literally walked into a picture-perfect, pioneer-authentic blacksmith forage aggrandized with gorgeous dark-wooden tones. It showed up beautifully on camera.

“All credit to the great photographers that we had working on the project,” Carlson said. “They worked hard together to get all the settings and such that we could just pull out all those details, especially the glow.”

With the right tools, cast and crew, Carlson and Lucas masterfully melded the dialogue, imagery, audio and character interaction to create a stimulating, eloquent documentary in just five days.

“Greg is one of the most intellectual people I know,” said Lucas, who’s known Greg since 1998 and worked with him on about five other projects. “And if he’s interested in something, you really want to listen to him talk about it. He is really good at communicating passion for things that he’s interested in.”

Carlson has been making all types of movies since the ‘80s. He says documentary movie making is distinctive because, “Everybody has a potential story, and as a documentary movie maker you have the privilege of shaping it, of telling it in a particular way.”

Carlson and Lucas are particularly interested in pacing as a way to energize the story and visuals.

“Both Greg and I really love movies where the viewer gets chance to drink in the image and take their time with it,” Lucas said.

So in “The Hammer and the Axe,” the viewer is not overwhelmed with dialogue. All the words are intentional. Every edit is important is shaping the story.

“That’s hard to do in five to six minutes because you kind of feel like you have to cut out so much to begin with,” Carlson said. “But we still we worked really hard. Tucker did an incredible job of identifying some of those places where you have those little moments to take a pause – take stock of the moment.”

“The Hammer and the Axe” is now available to view and vote for online. It’s currently in fourth place for the competition’s Audience Awards. Folk can vote more than once on a daily basis until July 14: http://theaudienceawards.com/film/the-hammer-and-the-axe8305

Watch the movie and vote:

http://theaudienceawards.com/film/the-hammer-and-the-axe8305

Recently in:

FARGO – Early Tuesday morning Captain Andrew Frobig seated himself at his office desk, quickly discovering that the jail count was up. About 76 people had been incarcerated over the long Veterans Day weekend bringing the total…

Best Bets

A Show for Joe

by HPR Staff

Sunday, November 25, 3-10pmSanctuary Event Center, 670 4th Ave. N, FargoA special benefit show for Joe Swegarten and his family. Joe sustained injuries from a hit and run accident this summer. Musicians from across the FM area band…

It's that time of the year when we’ve finally finished up our Halloween candy and started to deck the halls... but who’s rushing the season when it’s the season of the holiday rush? Here at HPR we’ve had shopping and…

The Third Reich—And Making A Country Great AgainI was in first grade in country school on November 9, 1938 when the Nazis, in avenging the assassination of a German embassy official in Paris by a 17-year-old Jewish youth, committed…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

Ah! The holidays are rushing at us, like well like an out of control, careening caravan. Time to start thinking about what to get the chef in the family for Christmas. The days of a new apron or oven mitt are over, or are they?An…

by Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.com With the kickoff of the holiday season (and the weather!) underway, it’s almost time for the annual holiday organ concerts at the Fargo Theatre. The concerts, put on as a partnership…

A long time ago (1977) in a galaxy far, far away (20th Century Fox) there was a film released called “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.” George Lucas introduced the world to his Flash Gordon-inspired space opera featuring a…

by: Melissa Gonzalezmelissam.gonzalez@outlook.comFrom music, to sculpture, to grand scale murals, one local artist is working tirelessly to share his work with the community.The West Acres Mall is currently hosting its fifth…

by Stella Mehlhoffstellamehlhoff@gmail.com“Our mission is to invigorate civic conversation through intimate and transformative storytelling.” This statement posted on Theatre B’s website and tacked to their studio wall in…

Those who have been reading my articles for a while may remember when I interviewed Zachary Tooker about the Level Two Comedy Club at the Radisson in Fargo. While the club may have unfortunately closed, Tooker has not ceased…

Beer Snob

Warm up with a hot toddy

by HPR Contributor

by Ben Myhrebenmyhre35@gmail.com Fall is once again upon us. The leaves are turning, gardens have been pulled, and Summer’s heat has waned into Autumnal frosts. Along with the change of seasons comes a change of seasonal flavors.…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

For all intents and purposes, the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party is bankrupt. North Dakota is now a one-party state. That’s sad. Because it wasn’t so long ago that we had an active two-party state government. Now the…