A Letter From Reid Bangert

Well, it’s here and then it’s gone, and those Catalina sunsets are still on my mind and engrained in my soul. As summer comes to a close and the campfires come to life I can’t deny that it’s been a good one. We had the opportunity to meet and film folks like Gene Jett and Phillip Edwards from Western Kansas to South Dakota. Folks whose work, much like our own, has defined the people they’ve become. In being cattlemen and farmers they may differ, but we shared a common thread amongst hard work, determination, and grit.

In this issue, we’re highlighting the two incredible projects that allowed us to meet Gene and Phillip and so many other friends this summer. What’s different this quarter is that each member of our team reflects upon what these projects meant to them and how they used the experience to become better people at work, at home, and in life.

As it always does, the first frost will come before we want it to leaving this year in the past and carrying us through the new year. So if we haven’t met, and you’d like to know the Northpass way, read on then give us a call, we’ll be here.

Foreword

By Matt Blume

Ah, the summer Quarterly Issue. I have been waiting for this. After all, isn’t summer the best? Sure, depending on where you are it can be blistering hot or way too dry or depressingly humid. For me, it has always been much too short. That is why I feel so privileged that we captured so much of it on camera the last few months. We traveled from Scott City, KS to Wooster, OH and throughout all of Eastern South Dakota. We captured orange sunrises and pink sunsets. We have met the kindest people who have laid down roots in the most magical spots a midwesterner can imagine. And it is those faces and places that we were able to gracefully suspend in time. 

We truly collaborated. All of us. We talked about Terrence Malick and Lance Acord. We talked about our own grandmother’s faces lit by the late summer sun. We recalled the fondest memories from our own childhood and compared notes. So when it was time to roll the camera the work came naturally. The bluffs perched above the prairie grasses and the symmetrical rows of corn welcomed our cinematography with open arms. And then, there were the people.

Nearly every time we emerged from the RV’s road weary and backs aching we were greeted with smiling eyes and gracious hospitality. We parted with warm hugs and invitations to return anytime we please. I gave each family my word that if nothing else we would capture their life in as much perfection as nature would allow. That we would find true moments and never make them “perform”. And it feels amazing to deliver on that promise. 

A cattleman knows which way to push the Black Angus and a farmer knows which section will look the best from the air. So once we had their ear, we made sure they were heard. Shooting in full summer glory ended just the way that it should. With generations of people that love one another watching fireworks from the grass below.

 
 

Fly Over Country

By Kurt Bangert

For people on the coasts, South Dakota is a “fly-over” state, and fly over it we did in late August. But in our case, fly-over didn’t mean extra time to get to somewhere else, it meant spending a week intentionally capturing the beauty of South Dakota from above and meeting the warm and interesting people that call this wonderful state home.

From the air and on the ground we were struck by the serene handsomeness of the landscape and feel fortunate we were selected to produce three broadcast spots featuring the hard work, care for the soil, and economic importance of the corn growers of South Dakota. During the entire week the contrast between the perception of the state and reality was striking. Never boring, always beautiful, it’s a place that we all want to see again and again.

For me the opportunity to work with a talented crew and befriend people I wouldn’t have otherwise met, was priceless. Although we were professionally focused on getting the shots we needed, we always made room to have a laugh and conversation with the people involved about the things that are important to them. The moments that weren’t in the schedule, like the pickup ride with Dave so he could show me his prize cattle, tell me about the crop season, and talk about his family’s roots in the area. The conversations with Phillip about how it’s not about making money, but about the experience with his family - especially his grandkids - and how he can’t bring himself to call a man that works for him a “hired hand”, but instead can only call him a partner. These are people that care for the land, their animals, their families, and hold great respect for personal relationships. I am fortunate to have met them.

From every point of view, it was a fantastic shoot. We look forward to showing you what we’re talking about.

Behind The Scenes

By Kris Mercer

What you don’t see in the footage. It is often said that the production department is the unseen logistics that make a project possible, but I personally disagree.

Yes, in the final commercial maybe you don’t see the 4:00am call time but you certainly see the striking sunrise that resulted from the early start to the day. You don’t see the local cuisine that was served on set but the connection between the filmmaker and the families that grew over those jokes and conversation at dinner are apparent in the sly smiles and that perfect line captured through quickly-formed friendships. Maybe the hours, days, and months of coordination invested between the production company and agency get lost among stunning visuals but I believe you can still feel the commitment that was put towards achieving these moments.

Reflecting on the week-long South Dakota Corn shoot Northpass Media experienced through our relationship with Paulsen, I am reminded of why I went into the production department in the first place. This project started with a phone call and through a month of budgeting, scheduling and planning became an unforgettable adventure. You see, we didn’t just film South Dakota Corn, we lived it! 

On Sunday, August 28, we packed up the motorhomes (yes, that’s plural), all 7 crew members took their positions, and started our road trip to South Dakota. From the moment we saw the first sprawling corn field, we were in it. Drones, Bodymount, 10 locations across the state, fireworks, and the equivalent of about 60,000 feet of film … we were present for every mile of this journey reveling in the moments not seen on camera just as much as the moments that made the cut. The relationships that were formed, the people we met - the skill of every position - I like to think the hours of hard work beforehand allowed for this profound experience and result.

Returning home from South Dakota, we all felt the wonderful exhaustion that comes from hard work paying off. We reminisced about different tales from the shoot, reminding each other about the perfectly timed shot captured just as the sun was setting over the Sioux Falls prairie. Now, in the edit bay, I still look at that shot and remember the crew, agency, and teamwork that made it happen, but even for those enjoying it on their couch at home, I hope that they will see the love we had for what we do in every frame of the 60 second spots. Even if they didn’t live the behind the scenes, I believe they’ll feel it.

Repeat Perspective

By Melissa Willis

One of the things I love about being a Producer is working with the same agency and client on a continual basis. Especially in this business. Knowing how they work; the quirks, the standards, the requirements, the approval processes and having experienced it numerous times makes each time “easier”. Even with the curve balls, I know what to expect. The trust that is developed is a wonderful, tangible, feeling. It’s the feeling of being on a professionally trained athletic team. I know this is a dramatic comparison but hey, I’m in show business.

I can’t deny the feeling of easy, direct-to-the-point communication with an agency producer and account supervisor. Like my favorite sweats I never want to wear out or give away, they will never go out of style. The mutual working through of problems, traveling, eating, laughing, crying and scheduling. No man left behind. OK, a lot dramatic, but there’s no business like show business. Every shoot is a stage, every agency and client are stars.

National Beef | Color

By Luke Englert

I come from a small farming town in Southwest Kansas. Where the land is vast and flat but the sunsets are spectacular. The kind of area, if it had buffalo, would scream “Home, Home on the Range”. I grew up as a farmer’s son, taking part in the harvest of wheat, milo and other dry crops. But that was only part of our duties, we also raised cows. Primarily black cows, or Angus Beef to be precise. So when National Beef came around I felt this project could become a labor of love (not only that but it was filmed in Kansas to boot).

My dad, being a farmer and rancher, he was everything you could consider to be true for a modern day cowboy. He loved wearing his cowboy hat with his boots whenever he could. Now because he loved being a cowboy in his own hard working way it is no surprise that his favorite show was “Bonanza,” so much so he named our ranch “Ponderosa”. In honor of him I felt it was necessary to use the show, and the many other life experiences I’ve had in Southwest Kansas, as the inspiration for coloring the National Beef project.

For color, I decided the focus would be more on the warmer tones, less so much on the greens or blues, kind of how the vintage cowboy television show looks. I felt that this way it would really bring home the feeling of warmth and peace Kansas sunsets and sunrises can instill. Hopefully with these shots you might understand what I was going for with this campaign, and it will leave an impact on you as I know the beauty of Kansas nature has left on me.

Moments

By Reid Bangert

When I think about life, I think about moments. I think about the first moment I can remember, before preschool, looking up at my mother and asking her “when can I go?”, as my sister went to catch her first bus to kindergarten. Moments when my Mom and I would sing along to Michael Bolton in the minivan in the elementary school parking lot. I think about the pitcher in little league who would always snicker as he tried to hit me with the ball, he knew I was afraid. I think about the first time I fell in love with someone who couldn’t love me back. I think about my high school dean telling saying “You’re not going to amount to nothing”. There is beauty in moments, there is pain in moments, there is happiness, sadness, excitement, despair, triumph, crudeness, flight, admiration, and so many more emotions in moments. It’s what we remember, it’s what we hold on to, whether good or bad, it’s these moments that continually shape us as humans. But these moments are fleeting, continually being born in every stage of our life.

They take on new purpose and meaning as we grow older or they become more aggressive, eating away at our souls if we let them. The summation of life’s moments should be taken as inspiration, the observation of something greater than what we could possibly be, and allowing those observations to influence our work. It’s what I think about when the cameras roll, capturing the emotion in those moments, the process becomes something spiritual for me. If I allow it, the images are composed not technically but through a deep reaction to what I know is right and what should be done. With our projects this summer this is the feeling the whole team at Northpass walked away with. The feeling that we honored our subjects in the light they were meant for, capturing the moments their whole life is made up of. I know it may all be a bit romantic for advertising, but if we can hold on to what we know is true, these moments, and not attempt to make them into something they’re not, I think we can all create work that stands the test of time and fulfills something beyond what we are capable of comprehending.