Conserve School at Fresh Coast
Jennifer Anderson, Enrollment and Marketing

The fourth annual Fresh Coast Film Festival took place in Marquette, MI, October 17-20th. It is a documentary film festival in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that "celebrates the outdoor lifestyle, water-rich environment, and resilient spirit of the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest. The festival gathers the best in environmental and cultural filmmaking from around the world while creating a venue for, and building a culture of, Great Lakes storytelling."  More than 120 new films screened with over 140 movies showing in total at this year's event. Many members of the Conserve School family from near and far attended the festival to support Conserve School staff members, Rob (Technology and Media Specialist) and Kate (Communications Specialist) Houle, whose film, A Cut Above, was one of the 140 films selected.

In addition to the honor of having their film shown at the fest, the Houles' film had the distinction of earning the "People’s Choice Award." Kate directed and produced the film and Rob filmed, edited and wrote the music for it. Their filmmaking journey began when they started working at Conserve School - they have since produced many videos for Conserve School. A few years ago, Rob and Kate met former teaching fellow, Kate Witkowski, and learned that she was a "lumberjill." They set out on a mission to learn how to make a documentary and decided that they wanted to create a unique film about a relatively unheard-of sport, and even more specifically, about women in that sport. As they filmed, they learned more about lumberjacking and the people who are competitive in it in the Midwest. Their film soon evolved into a regionally specific cultural documentary that includes an Indigenous lumberjack from the Menominee tribe and themes of sustainability and natural resources as well.

A Cut Above was filmed in various towns around Wisconsin from Land O’ Lakes to Hayward to Steven’s Point to Manitowoc and Milwaukee. It took the Houles approximately a year to film, edit and produce. Click here to follow the Facebook page for A Cut Above.


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