Meet the Makers

Illinois Made

by Johnny Hall

In summer 2017, our video crew hit the road. They drove from the north of Illinois to the southern forests, interviewing 15 Illinois Made artisans and filming their stories. Cinematographer Johnny Hall tells the tale.

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Meet the Makers

In summer 2017, our video crew hit the road. They drove from the north of Illinois to the southern forests, interviewing 15 Illinois Made artisans and filming their stories. Cinematographer Johnny Hall tells the tale.

Artisan

Make it Fast

We shot 15 videos in ten days. We had three hours with each artisan, from first meeting them, interviewing them, shooting b-roll of their location, then waving goodbye and leaping in our van to drive to our next location. I’ve made a feature film in 10 days and this shoot was more intense. I’ve done a few 48-hour film festivals, and it was like that. It was terrifying and exhilarating, like being thrown in the very deepest end of a pool. I still can’t quite believe we pulled it off.

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Make it Flow

I love the challenge of taking stream of consciousness footage and making it into a coherent story. Marla did an incredible job conducting the interviews and uncovering real gold. Most people aren’t professionally trained purveyors of sound bites, but everyone has something interesting to say. My job is to make people seem as engaging and articulate as possible. At times I’m editing down to the syllable.

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Make it Matter

When we arrived at Flesor’s Candy Kitchen in Tuscola, it was the middle of lunch and the place was full. One of the owners stood up, introduced us to her guests, and said how proud she was to be an Illinois Made maker. This made me see that being featured as an Illinois Made artisan wasn’t just a validation of quality, but it also had a positive impact on their business. And that made the whole project so much more meaningful for me.

Amazing Moments

We were in Cafe Tola, this great little Mexican restaurant, it’s bright, colourful, inspiring, all these vintage die-cast toys, and beautiful artwork, it’s a visual manifestation of their spirit. So, we met the Salmanca family and had a great interview.

Afterwards I was exhausted. We’d been on the road for days. I’d been lugging this great heavy camera in the heat for hours. And I was famished! I’m just sitting there and Victoria Salmanca asks if I’m hungry and makes me these delicious tacos and empanadas. And while I’m scarfing away a staff member comes up and shyly gives me this poster. It turns out it’s his artwork. It was the absolute most wonderful thing. I’ve had his poster framed, because it means so much to me.

My wife and I are going to do an Illinois road trip soon, because I want to take her back to the places we visited to meet the Illinois makers. Two more of my top Illinois Made picks are the Tangled Roots Brewing Company and St. Nicholas Brewing. I will always go out of my way to support Illinois makers. Their products are so good, and the people are undeniably awesome.

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