TV Features

TV Features

Common Ground is a 26 minute weekly TV show on KAWE/KAWB which also airs on The Minnesota Channel. Below are a selection of episodes which I had a hand in creating.

Video and publicity appears here courtesy of Lakeland Public Television.

 

EW HALLETT Minnesota History for PBS

John’s Comments:

I really enjoyed working on this piece. I first learned about EW when I was working on the Crosby Plaza Mural (you can see that piece below).  My curiosity was piqued and I started to dig. As I started to gather available material, out of the blue, a lady heard of my quest and called me. It turned out that the lady, Mrs Woehler, and her husband, had enjoyed a very close and personal relationship with EW and his wife. They made available to me photos and other historical information, including an audio recording of EW. I met with them and interviewed them both, though it was yet unclear how I would use the material.  As  I worked on the story and did further research, I realized I needed to narrate the story myself. I wrote the script, and with John Andringa running camera we filmed the segments on location in Crosby.  In one long summers day, we captured all the necessary clips.  I finished the rough edit and handed the piece to Scott C Knudson for final polish.

Episode Description

From humble beginnings to an empire of industry, Crosby, Minnesota, businessman, E.W. Hallett was influential in the development of the Crosby-Ironton region. Come along with John Parsons as he interviews former employees of the main street hardware store to those who manage The Hallett Charitable Trust. Parsons discovers secrets that have never before been revealed in the media and uses an archival audio interview of Hallett telling his own tale in this episode of Common Ground.

Credits

This episode was Written, Produced, Directed and Edited by John Parsons as Legacy Production Manager at Lakeland Public Television. Additional Editing by Scott C Knudson and Camera and Sound by John Andringa. Episode shot in 1920 x 1080 HD on Sony EX3 camera and edited in Adobe Premiere. It first aired April 16th, 2015.

 

NORMAN AUNES”S MODEL T Minnesota history for PBS

John’s Comments:

I had a wonderful experience working with Norman Aune on this piece and the weather was picture perfect. As is common with much of my work, I operated as a one man band. I was continually jumping in and out of the car and asking Norm to stop, start and drive by. Thanks Norm for your patience! Thanks too to Maurice Olson who introduced me to Norm! I used a Sennheiser wireless mic for the intro. We did three takes before figuring out when the mic was within range so that I did not miss any of the audio! My favorite part is at the 12.57 mark, when quite impromptu, Norm starts reminiscing about the Model T journeys he made with his wife. When I came to the edit I realized Norm had given me a beautiful way to close out the piece. I was glad I had kept the tape running!

Episode Description

Enjoy the fall colors with the new-year episode of “Common Ground” as Brainerd collector Norman Aune takes host John Parsons on a fall foliage ride in his 1927 Model T Ford.

Credits

This segment was Produced, Directed and Edited by John Parsons, shot in 1920 x 1080 HD on Sony EX3 camera and edited in Adobe Premiere Pro.

 

EXPLORER DEAN JACOBS Minnesota culture for PBS

John’s comments:

I came across Dean Jacobs quite by chance at a writers event in Bemidji. The speaker  just happened to comment that there was an explorer in the room and my ears perked up. Afterwards, I sought the explorer out. While I was talking to him, local writer and aviator Marsh Muirhead, offered to take him up in his small plane. Of course I asked if I could ride along. The next day, I found myself clamping a Go Pro camera onto Marsh’s Cessna and climbing into the back seat with a Sony EX3 camera. I was able to hook my camera’s audio feed into the plane’s intercom and so I got great audio. Later I accompanied Dean Jacobs, as he launched his canoe on the Mississippi near Brainerd.  I then drove downriver to catch him as he floated by. As I was waiting for him to round a bend in the river, I was rewarded with something beyond my expectations. My camera was rolling and  I captured the amazing sight and sounds of a skein of geese flying down river. You can find the geese at minute 5:17 on the clip above.

Episode Description

Explorer Dean Jacobs is on a mission to discover teachable moments from his adventures and share them with schoolchildren.
Jacobs came to the headwaters of the Mississippi at the start of his journey down the great river and “Common Ground” followed him as he viewed the Mississippi from the air and then set out on the river from Crow Wing State Park with his canoe.
Jacobs, who is also a photographer and a writer, talks about his own journey of self discovery that led him to leave a corporate career to follow his dream.

Credits

This episode was Produced, Directed and Edited by John Parsons, shot in 1920 x 1080 HD on Sony EX3 camera with additional footage captured on a Go Pro camera.  It was edited in Adobe Premiere Pro.

 

CROSBY PLAZA MURAL Minnesota art for PBS

John’s Comments

This piece began when I was approached by members of a committee who were working on creating a new plaza with the intention of reviving the Crosby community. Somehow their enthusiasm inspired me to start work on a piece about the huge mural at the heart of the plaza. Before I was done I had driven down to Mazeppa, Minnesota,  to interview the painter and gotten video of mountain bikers racing down trails in abandoned mines. Somehow it all wove together and I had a complete espisode in the can. However the trail led further, while working on this piece I met several folks who knew EW Hallett and I realized I had more material than I could use on this piece. Thus the EW Hallett piece grew out of this story and while I was in the area doing this piece I noticed the Lika Garden and so the Serbian Sisters segment was born. When you walk through a door you never know where it will lead, in this case that initial meeting led me to three full episodes of Common Ground!

Episode Description

A traditional sign painter and muralist shares his creative flow as he describes how he blends old photos into a modern portrayal linking mining history and today’s adventure sports on the Cuyuna Range.

The unique mural in the city of Crosby seeks to springboard the city into a prosperous new future as old mine pits are finding an unexpected acclaim as a national attraction for mountain bikers and deep water divers.

Mike Meyer from Mazeppa, in southern Minnesota was invited to help create the two storey high painting that reflects over a hundred years of change on the Cuyuna Range.

A grassroots group called Project Revive was inspired by the Minnesota Design Team to create a brand new plaza on main street to showcase the mural.

Credits

This episode was Produced, Directed and Edited by John Parsons, shot in 1920 x 1080 HD on Sony EX3 camera with additional footage captured on a Go Pro camera. It was edited in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Premiered January 30th 2014 at 7PM on Lakeland Prime

 

COMMUNIST MAYOR & SERBIAN SISTERS Minnesota history for PBS

John’s comments:

While driving around Ironton, Minn. one summer afternoon I spotted the Lika Garden. I was intrigued by the obvious slavic influence and stopped to find out more about it. I soon met one of its guiding lights, Laura Ukura-Leir, and a friendship was born, before too long we arranged to do a piece about the Serbian Sisters. Along the way I got to meet Industrial Archaeologist, Fred Sutherland, and learned the astonishing story of America’s first Communist mayor and the idea for another segment was born. That one stop, out of pure curiosity on my part, brought me a bunch of new friends, a full TV episode and an invitation to celebrate Serbian Christmas in St Paul, Minnesota! “Magic moments’ in the TV business are not always scripted, when guests “forget” about the camera and just start to talk an interviewer knows he’s in the zone. When Lauri Norstedt and Andrea Lee Lambrech started to reminisce together I knew I was privy to such a series of moments, I wanted to hold my breathe so as not to interrupt the flow. We could not use it all in the final TV  show so we put it out as a web extra. The unedited interview appears below: 

Episode Description

Common Ground visits Crosby-Ironton to explore how iron mining has impacted both the politics and culture of the Cuyuna Range.

The show begins by exploring what was stirring in Crosby that made the election of a Communist Mayor possible in 1932 and then steps across to Ironton to profile how a church welfare organization from Belgrade has evolved into a 21st century non-profit dedicated to preserving Iron Range culture.

Iron range historian, Pam Brunfelt, sets the scene for Karl Nygard’s victory as the first Communist Mayor in America and Laura Ukura Leir, one of the founders of the re-born Serbian Sisters, explains how Manganese from Ironton helped the Allies to victory in WWll. The show also includes authentic polka music from Rod Cerar, a visit to a Serbian Christmas party and a chat with muralist Mike Meyer about the miner whose image is depicted on the front of the Ironton Legion.

Credits

This episode was Produced and Directed by John Parsons, it was shot in 1920 x 1080 HD on Sony EX3 camera and edited by Tom Wild in Final Cut Pro.

 

 

 AUTHOR WILL WEAVER Minnesota Art for PBS

John’s Comments:

Will Weaver penned the short story that ultimately became the 2005 indie movie, Sweet Land. If you’ve never seen it I highly recommend it. Set in Minnesota this period drama is noted for beautiful cinematography.  I met Will while working as a Reporter around 2007 and had planned then to do a story with him. For one reason or another that never happened but I am really happy that I got to make this whole episode about his more recent series of dirt racing novels. The highlight for me was shooting the speedway footage. I met a lot of very friendly folks at Bemidji Speedway. 

Episode Description

“Saturday Night Dirt” is the first book in a series about speedway racing designed to inspire young adults to read. “Common Ground” takes viewers to the Bemidji Speedway to find out about this very unique project.
During the show, writer Will Weaver recounts how experiences with the dirt racing team he formed went on to find expression in a trilogy of motor novels.
Will Weaver has achieved recognition with two Minnesota Book Awards, a short story that was adapted to become the 2006 independent feature film “Sweet Land” and a 1986 novel that became a CBS Television movie. More recently he took up the challenge of writing for young adults and in the process he created a dirt racing team. In this episode of Common Ground Weaver talks about the challenges of writing for this audience and viewers get to meet driver, Skyler Smith, who got his start with Team Weaver Racing while still in high school.

Credits

This episode was Produced and Directed by John Parsons, it was shot in 1920 x 1080 HD on Sony EX3 camera with additional footage obtained on a Go Pro. The edit was done by Tom Wild in Final Cut Pro.

The show premiered on December 19th 2013