Arts, Film & Music

WPT’s “Little Man” Featured in PBS Online Film Festival

Wisconsin Public Television is pleased to announce that the animated story “Little Man,” produced by our motion graphics designer Philip Ashby, has been accepted into the 2017 PBS Online Film Festival!

From July 17 to July 28, you can watch all 25 films included in the festival. Viewers are also encouraged to vote for and share their favorite films to win the “Most Popular” award.  And, for the first time ever, a distinguished panel of eight jury members will select their favorite film of the festival for the “Juried Prize”. Join the conversation online with #PBSFilmFest.

In this animated story, “Little Man” brings to life the words of Steven Rodriguez. While enrolled in the First Wave Hip Hop Spoken Word and Hip Hop Arts Learning Community at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Rodriguez composed a poem inspired by his younger brother nicknamed, “Little Man.”  He speaks to his brother’s struggles with discrimination as a Mexican American and tries to infuse his brother with a sense of hope for the future. He also discusses his experiences being born to a drug-addicted mother, and being a struggling — but dedicated — college student.

In a Q&A with PBS, Ashby discusses why he was inspired by the words of Steven Rodriquez and the creative process behind his animation.

“My creative process usually starts in my sketchbook. After I hear the voice track or read the script, I start doodling and what usually flows through my pencil is a character or a scene that evokes the atmosphere of what I experience with the piece,” Ashby explains. “Once I have a sense of the art direction I create a storyboard, which helps me think about scene transitions and the flow of the visual story.”

Speaking about his choice of color in the film, Ashby says: “The life circumstances of Steven and his brother are bleak. I wanted to express this by creating a dark environment with no light entering this space. By putting the characters onto a black background, I wanted the viewer to sense their isolation and desperation.”

“Little Man” premiered on Wisconsin Public Television in 2016 in an episode of Wisconsin Life.

“I hope the viewers find an appreciation for Steven’s art, which is sincere and authentic,” Ashby says. “Urban artists like Steven share personal expressions that give us an honest look at areas of our community that are unknown or ignored by most of us.”

Read the full Q&A.

Escape, Create & Celebrate at Quilt Expo This Fall

Join the ultimate quilting adventure and meet Sewing With Nancy’s Nancy Zieman during Quilt Expo 2017: Sept. 7-9 in Madison!

Presented by Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) with Nancy Zieman, Quilt Expo is designed to capture and revitalize the creative quilting spirit. The expo features a 10-category quilt contest, vendor mall, stage presentations, informal lectures, sit & sew and hands-on workshops, nationally known celebrity presenters, appearances by Nancy and raffle prizes.

Advance registration for the expo is now open, which means you can register early and save $2 per admission ticket, workshop and lecture. Plus, registering early means you can take advantage of limited-quantity opportunities, like the brand-new Quilt Expo VIP package! Continue reading Escape, Create & Celebrate at Quilt Expo This Fall

Director’s Cut: “From Mass to the Mountain”

This week on Director’s Cut, I welcome Kurt Sensenbrenner and Colin Sytsma, the creative team behind the documentary From Mass to the Mountain.

Watch the trailer:

From Mass to the Mountain – Official Trailer from Kurt Sensenbrenner on Vimeo.

The film’s protagonist is Father Wally Kasuboski, known in Panama as “Padre Pablo.” Though he has lived in Panama for the last 28 years, he is a native of Ripon, Wis. – also Sensenbrenner’s hometown, which is how the filmmakers made the connection with their subject. Their engaging documentary shows how Padre Pablo became the catalyst for bringing clean drinking water and infrastructure to a poverty-stricken region of eastern Panama.  Continue reading Director’s Cut: “From Mass to the Mountain”

See Holy Hill and Other Scenes From Around Wisconsin’s U.S. Open Golf Course From the Air

The Basilica of Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians is just one of the landmarks of Southeastern Wisconsin that golf fans around the world will become familiar with during this week’s U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills Golf Course.

Fly alongside the beautiful basilica, over Old World Wisconsin and along the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in this beautiful clip from Wisconsin Public Television’s Wisconsin From the Air. Want more? Click here to watch the full show on-demand!

Director’s Cut: Noah Hutton and “Deep Time”

This week on Director’s Cut, I’m joined by director Noah Hutton to discuss his award-winning documentary Deep Time. Deep Time explores how the oil boom, one of the biggest in recent history, has affected a small community in North Dakota. 

Watch the trailer:

Hutton’s first film Crude Independence, executive produced by Jonathan Demme, also dealt with the oil boom in North Dakota. He has dedicated a big part of his young life to telling two stories about this hot-topic issue and industry. You’d be well served to watch one of them this Friday night.  Continue reading Director’s Cut: Noah Hutton and “Deep Time”

Director’s Cut: Mac Smith and “Scouts Honor: Inside a Marching Brotherhood”

This week on Director’s Cut, it’s all about family, as director Mac Smith joins me to discuss Scouts Honor: Inside a Marching Brotherhood. It’s a solid film about a world I admit I knew very little about. Smith, a Hollywood sound professional, took on this passion project to tell a poignant, insightful and heartfelt story.

Poster for Scouts HonorThe full-length documentary looks at the competitive world of drum and bugle corps, where performers must be offered a contract in order to be part of the team.

Smith knows his topic well; he was a Scout himself. The experience was so enriching that, years later, he dedicated a couple years of his life to telling this story.

Continue reading Director’s Cut: Mac Smith and “Scouts Honor: Inside a Marching Brotherhood”

‘American Epic’ and WPT’s Recorded Folk Music

The groundbreaking three-part documentary American Epic takes us around the country to explore how the music of ordinary Americans was recorded for the first time in the 1920s.

In the second part, “Blood and Soil,” airing tonight on WPT at 8 p.m., viewers will explore musical stories from the rural South. Charley Patton, Elder Burch and others made audio recordings of people performing early Delta blues, work songs, gospel, and protest tunes. If you missed “The Big Bang,” last week’s series opener, no worries! Watch it online.

The new series inspired us at WPT to dig into the archives of our decade-long live music program, 30-Minute Music Hour, to find past performances by people inspired by the music you will hear tonight on American Epic

Here are a few feature performances, captured right here in the WPT studio, that we thought you would enjoy after tuning in.
Continue reading ‘American Epic’ and WPT’s Recorded Folk Music

Director’s Cut: Writer-producer Erik Crary and “Uncle John”

Poster for the film Uncle JohnThis week on Director’s Cut, it’s a good old-fashioned eerie small town murder mystery: Uncle John.  I sat down with Erik Crary – half of the creative team – who co-wrote the script and produced the film. I love having writers as guests because they offer unique insight into the storytelling and movie-making process.  Continue reading Director’s Cut: Writer-producer Erik Crary and “Uncle John”