In December 2019, Professor Kurt Paulsen received an email from an old contact at Thirty Tigers. This is the company that represents Trampled By Turtles, a beloved bluegrass/folk-rock band from Duluth. In 2013, Kurt worked with several students to make a music video for TbT. Due to the success of the last video (now at over a million views and 4,500 likes) Thirty Tigers was looking for another video to promote the solo debut of Dave Simonett (lead singer of TbT). The timeline was aggressive and there were a number of logistical obstacles, but the answer on our end was an immediate yes.

A cross-disciplinary group of students was quickly assembled to take on the project for college credit in a special topics class. The group ranged from freshmen to seniors and included students representing three majors:

Media Arts: Alec Mueller, Anya Schroeder, Caleb Schilling, Franklin Selvey, and Samantha Pollard
Studio Art: Mindy Pitzner
Graphic Design: Lex Wencl

This student group had less than three months to create the video for Dave Simonett’s single By the Light of the Moon. They wanted to follow the success of the first video with another stop motion piece, and their plan was ambitious. To help bring their vision to life before the fast approaching deadline, students from Jason Jaspersen’s 3D Design class assisted in set design and set building. Take a look at the final video, which was released in late March:

The video was included in a Rolling Stone article about Simonett’s solo album. It was mentioned as “a stop-motion music video that swells with emotion.” While the writing is the foundation for that emotional punch, the feeling is deepened by the beautiful set and character design and intensified by the lighting and camera movement. We are so proud of what the students achieved in each area of this production, and are excited that it can now be shared!

This project embodies so much of what we’re trying to do in the media arts department, which is a place where filmmakers, artists, and designers come together to make things. To close this write-up, here are some thoughts from a few of the students who eloquently describe their collaborative experiences on this positive and inspirational creative team:

“If there’s one thing I took away from this project, it’s that filmmaking is problem-solving. With every new idea came a series of creative problems to be solved. It was frustrating at times, but I’m so thankful for the awesome team that came together to bring it all to life. Shooting a film, or a music video in this case, is always a special thing. Even when things get tough, it’s easy to just take a step back, remember that you’re making a movie, and then everything is A-okay!”
– Alec Mueller, media arts major

“My teammates were amazing in both helping with construction as well as teaching me the ins-and-outs of building sets for animation. I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to participate in this unique project and for my creative teammates that were both encouraging and insightful in a new area of creative work for me.”
– Mindy Pitzner, studio art major

“One of the most gratifying experiences in a creative field is working with talented individuals who are equally invested in a project. I could not have asked for a better team to work with. Throughout the three months we were working together, we were constantly bouncing ideas off of each other, trying new things, and critiquing each other. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that this project changed us all for the better. We were enriched as creative individuals by working at a professional level.”
– Anya Schroeder, media arts major