Magic Happens Quietly
Magic happens quietly, behind the scenes, and sometimes with the help of a rabbit. My visit to CRASH+SUES, the Minneapolis-based post-production company revealed all of that.
A couple months earlier some of the CRASH+SUES team had come to visit Jan and me over lunch. We told them about our Building the Pink Tower documentary project and they listened. Without knowing more through firsthand experience, they came to their own conclusions about what this project could do for the future of education. So when we asked if they would be part of our team, contributing their post-production expertise to our project, they said yes.
Like so many others who have joined us in this labor of love – from a graphic designer, to website designer, to director of photography – CRASH+SUES agreed to the work without the promise of significant compensation. They, too, have seen the power of the story of Montessori education and its potential to reshape schools. And they understand how important it is for this film to capture the beauty of classroom environments, the concentration of children absorbed in their work, and the grace of a community working together.
So at the invitation of CRASH+SUES Executive Producer Sven Shelgren, I brought my two sons along for a behind the scenes tour of their offices. One of the first staff members we met was Adele the rabbit, who was observing us from behind a desk. A trained agility rabbit, she shows up at work with her owner/C+S staff member, and sometimes ends up in a client’s commercial scene.
Then we met Sue, of the company’s name, sitting in a darkened room at an elaborate antique-looking desk, her hands moving over buttons and dials, her eyes scanning the three screens in front of her. I can’t explain exactly what she does (though my rapt, technology-focused boys probably could) but I can say it reminded me of the Wizard of Oz scene when we discover that everything is managed by an unassuming character and a set of elaborate controls. Sue was happy to take the time to show us her work and all the possibilities available at her fingertips.
We moved down the hall, peering into rooms, each with a different purpose. Some were quiet because no one happened to be there at the moment – the end of a summer Friday. We could imagine clients watching the different versions of a commercial spot, sitting in comfortable chairs. Many rooms were quiet because staff members – editors, animators, colorists – were so engrossed in their work. They looked up to smile and say hello, then back at it. They had deadlines on four different projects that evening, Sven told us.
Even so, everything was so calm and quiet at CRASH+SUES. There was no sense of panic or anxiety. Everyone was just busy doing the things they did best. We could see that there was time for fun and relaxation – the big kitchen area also had a foosball table. We spied a Wii, complete with drum set in one of the rooms. The room filled with a stop-motion animation set, everything in miniature and a whole landscape scaled to perspective, looked like a fun place to play (though the hard work that goes into creating those sets was evident from the scraps of fabric and hot glue guns lying around). But behind the juxtaposed modern design of the office space, antique furniture, and state-of-the-art equipment, were smart, creative people hard at work.
Now, thinking about our tour, I am reminded of the work in a Montessori classroom. Like any environment where the members of the community are happy and fully engaged, a lot happens behind the scenes and intentionally to make that community work so well. Whether it is the care that goes into creating an appealing physical space, or the thought that goes into presentation of an idea or concept, a lot happens to make communities tick.
My sons were fascinated by the work that goes on behind the scenes to make the finished product that they might see on the screen. I was happy to take my sons into an environment that gave them a sense of what adult work could look like.
Check out the videos on the CRASH+SUES website and see the magic they make with playful images, snappy messages, and meaningful stories. What happens behind the scenes, quietly, intensely, with the help of a rabbit, is what makes it real.