A local story hits the big screen during the Catalyst Content Festival in Duluth next month.
Among the independent works selected for the event is “Outsourced: The New Wisconsin Idea,” a documentary on the Oct. 31, 2017, suspension of 25 programs at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Created by UWS graduates Katie Lindow and Megan McGarvey, it’s a look at the state of higher education.
“The program suspensions at UW-Superior drew out considerable passion from the student body and the community at large and this film tells the story very well,” said Superior Mayor Jim Paine.
The 40-minute documentary takes viewers into the moment and behind the scenes with archival footage and interviews.
“This film is important because many folks outside the university only have a partial story of what happened here in October 2017,” said communicating arts professor Martha Einerson. “The film includes the voices of UWS students and teachers. These voices were not part of the public story when news broke of the academic cuts.”
There is no voiceover.
“We really felt it was important to let those voices stand on their own because at the end of the day, it’s not about me or Megan, it is about this university,” Lindow said.
For a year and a half, Lindow and McGarvey have been interviewing, editing and researching for the project. McGarvey said that time allowed them to gain perspective and widen the lens. They realized similar cuts were taking place nationwide.
“We found that across the country only four states have actually increased funding for state-funded higher education,” Lindow said. “It’s being slashed kind of everywhere.”
So the Twin Ports filmmakers added that information.
“We want to tell a broader story that touches everybody,” Lindow said.
Their goal wasn’t to bash the administration, but to show how the abrupt suspensions impacted the campus community.
“The situation was complex and only found sustaining life though a year of interviews, research, tape and production — that’s how critical and complicated this story was,” said 2nd District City Councilor Jenny Van Sickle. “It had to be told.”
When they held their first screening this spring, the film was a testament to their UWS education.
“Every post, protest and article Megan and Katie brought to life,” Van Sickle said.
The documentary was produced on a pair of laptops at Lindow’s kitchen table. Through work, life and the stress of three moves (two for McGarvey, one for Lindow) the film remained a constant for the pair.
“They completed outstanding work while students, and have only grown and matured in their filmmaking,” Einerson said. “It’s really exciting to see.”
The email telling them they’d been selected for the Catalyst festival came right on the heels of the first screening. There were tears.
“It was very intense and wonderful and we couldn’t ask for anything better,” McGarvey said. “We started out to make this thing because we were so passionate about this project. And then to have it actually screen in a Duluth film festival.”
Now in its 14th year, the festival celebrates independent creators in a variety of categories, from traditional comedies, dramas and documentaries to digital series, animation, script writing and podcast pitches.
“Outsourced” will be shown at 12:10 p.m. Oct. 10 at Zinema 2, followed by a question and answer session, and on Oct. 12 at Teatro Zuccone at 4:20 p.m. Both locations are in the Zeitgeist Arts Building at 222 E. Superior St.
“It’s such a big deal, this festival,” Lindow said. “We have the ability to meet with industry insiders about this project and talk about distribution and stuff. We get to do some networking events and we’re thrilled.”
Their company, Grey Forest Pictures, is already filming a second documentary highlighting a Twin Ports artist, and they’re considering a docu-series. The pair plan to keep their eyes trained on the Midwest.
“There’s a lot of authenticity and a lot of amazing stories that are just here in Superior even,” McGarvey said. “It made me personally want to share those stories more.”
The pair are selling T-shirts featuring the Grey Forest Pictures logo for future productions, travel and festival submissions. Visit the Outsourced: The New Wisconsin Idea Facebook page or catalystcontent.org for more information.