currently in production

Directed by Dawn Mikkelson


Minnesota Mean - In Post-Production

“Minnesota Mean” follows the quirky and powerful women of the #8 ranked women’s roller derby team’s 2017 international season. Athletes who balance life, relationships, and the deep passion they share for a sport that requires 85% of their lives, has no financial compensation, and can send them to the hospital in a split second.

“Minnesota Mean” follows one of the most competitive teams in the fast-growing international sport of women’s roller derby, the Minnesota All-Stars. The All-Stars are deferentially referred to as the “Minnesota Mean”, due to their tough playing style and worldwide ranking (8th out of almost 400 leagues), while coming from a state known for polite people wearing parkas or “Minnesota Nice”.

The film follows five players as they struggle with the grueling practice schedule and need to be in top physical condition. Simultaneously, they work full-time jobs and face the relationship struggles that this high-stakes life creates.

For more information on this project and how to get involved contact us here.

HERbeat - Production

Taiko drumming has thundered throughout ancient Japanese art and culture, traditionally reserved only for men.  Now resounding as ‘high art’ on the contemporary world stage, Taiko is both ancient and modern, ever-evolving.  HERbeat follows the top women in taiko from the United States and Japan as they prepare to perform together for the first time.  Each woman forges her own path, pursuing art that fuels her soul, despite seemingly insurmountable cultural, financial, and personal barriers.

The pounding of taiko can be like a mother’s heartbeat in the womb.  Babies in audiences drift to sleep by its thunderous vibrations. Meanwhile, women taiko players who become masterful, prolific and influential remain invisible in top levels of the art-form.

HERbeat follows five of the top female solo Taiko artists on the planet as they combine forces to create and perform new art on stage. Embedded in their personal lives, HERbeat explores themes of cultural/racial identity, the challenges faced by professional female artists, and the subjects’ passion for a subculture that was designed to keep them on the outside. We will meet each of these women in their home countries, watching these themes unfold, joining their worlds together for the first time in February 2020. We anticipate that the weeks leading up to the concert may be some of the most dramatic, as these women push themselves physically, creatively, and financially, harder than they’ve ever been pushed, and for some, in ways they have always longed to work. They will have to learn to collaborate with one another, a challenging endeavor for any artist at the top of her game. They will live together for 10 days in a historic mansion (AirBnb) during the peak of a Minnesota winter. With most players coming from Japan or California, this will be an additional source of stress and adventure. The story culminates with high intensity performances for packed audiences in one of the biggest theaters in the region. What will they learn from one another? What will they learn about themselves? And will this space forged just for them mark the beginning of a new world of taiko for women?

Envisioned as a character-driven documentary, we will explore the lives of these women, utilizing this singular event of a world premiere performance, drawing them together to look at themes of culture and what it is to be a woman today, while acting as a “gateway” to the beautiful world of taiko drumming. (Think a cross between Spellbound and Hoop Dreams for taiko drumming.)

For more information on this project and how to get involved contact us here.