HSB: Eve, we love the trailer for your upcoming film about Mineral Point. Can you tell us about your connection to MP?
Eve: My connection to MP… Well, it’s kind of a long story . . . My grandparents were good friends with Al & Eadie Felly. When they began restoring the Alley in the ’60s-’70s, the Cornish miners’ cottage next door was also up for sale and in need of repair. The Fellys sort of talked my grandparents into buying it and restoring it– it’s been in the family ever since.
Jump ahead to the ’80s, when my Mom was out of school and looking for a job. She had only ever taken one pottery class and after Rollie left Shake Rag as the potter in residence, she took over (with Bruce as a teacher). She worked there for about 5 years, during which time she met my dad– an abstract painter from the Foundry. They both supported themselves through their artwork until my sister and I came along, calling for a bit more financial stability. My dad went back to school, got an engineering degree, and we all moved to Peoria in 1998 so he could work at Caterpillar.
I’ve always been madly in love with Mineral Point. Whenever I got the chance, I would travel up to stay in that cottage on Shake Rag St. and explore the town. Over the years, I became friends with more people in MP than I ever even knew in Peoria. There’s just a great vibe about Point people– they are all passionate about something, and the town supports that passion in a very unique way.
Eve: I got into filmmaking a few years ago when I spent six months shooting a documentary on my sister’s travel hockey team. I discovered that being able to capture people’s personalities and stories was fairly addictive. Once the hockey movie was wrapped up, I produced another short documentary on an educational organization in Illinois, and when that aired on public television, I became hungry for another project. I have been doing freelance video production for three years and am about to start school at Columbia College Chicago, where I will study documentary filmmaking.
Eve: For years, my mom had suggested that I shoot some interviews with our artist friends in Mineral Point to preserve their awesome, colorful personalities and stories first-hand. That notion quickly evolved into the idea for a documentary feature– a movie that would focus on how the passion and hard-work of creative individuals essentially rescued Mineral Point from its dark days post-Depression.
Researching and shooting the movie over the course of two summers gave me the opportunity to really explore what makes Mineral Point special. Here, in this tiny, rural Midwestern town is a community of the most talented, hard-working, friendly people one could ever hope to find. It’s this unique balance of “small-town” and “arts-community” that many find to be an incredibly attractive marriage.
How did it happen? As many still recall, Mineral Point wasn’t always the gorgeous destination that it is today. “Back in the day,” Point was something of a ramshackle bar-town, full of parties and run-down old buildings. It was because of pioneers like Max & Ava Fernekes, Bob Neal, Edgar Hellum, Bud Wall, and others, that artists and craftspeople with little money and lots of creative ambition were able to come to Point and see the potential in those run-down (and very affordable) buildings. They fixed them up and created spaces in which they could be aesthetically motivated, but they also formed a community of people who are, perhaps, more open-minded than most. When times were tough, people helped each other out, and when people rely on one another, communities become families.
Of course, there are the arbitrary politics and quarrels that enter into small-town life, but at its core, Mineral Point is unique in that it’s a place of genuine physical beauty that has been developed by people who really want to create a home by doing what they love to do. It’s a hard thing to explain in words, so I hope that visuals can do it more justice.
Eve: Yes, the movie will be at the Opera House for the Driftless Film Festival (November 7-10). The exact premiere date is TBD.
So, without further ado, here’s the trailer to Eve’s upcoming documentary about Mineral Point.
– Contributed by the Hays