OUR SCENE | Video vet Hamil Griffin-Cassidy: "The scene here can be chaotic, but I like that"

Hamil Griffin-Cassidy with Carolyn Kopecky

I was born in Portland, Oregon. When I was a baby, my folks were looking to take my newborn’s lungs away from the raining ash of the newly active Mount St. Helens. They found a comparable city in Minneapolis and we’ve been here ever since.

I was always a big fan of film and animation, so when I was 15 I went to the Minneapolis Television Network (MTN) to get my hands on some equipment. I took their video production course, and after a couple of years they hired me as a production specialist. I left to attend and receive my degree in film production at the University of Miami in Florida, and when I came back to MTN, I started to do my own live interactive shows including Totally Scrabble Tuesday, Philo, and Freaky Deeky.

What I like about MTN is that it gives people a facility to express themselves—it’s a video publisher, an avenue for expression and training. I stayed at MTN until several months ago, when I left to work independently as a video producer. I’ve done event videos, a successful Kickstarter video, and promotional videos; I’ve been playing with live Internet video and VJed Mark Mallman’s Marathon IV: Road Rogue.

I have an emotional responsibility to MTN: public access was my first teacher and I’m excited that I have recently found a partnership where I can help our community station. I’m working with Qwikcast.tv to make all of MTN’s channels available at mtn.org in the near future. The leap is important and needs to happen fast so MTN remains relevant as technology speeds ahead.

Coming up, the project I’m most excited about is a New Year’s party some collaborators and I are working on with David Anderson. He has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and we’re working with various devices and developing middleware that will let him DJ with just his eyes. The work that is done will be open-source, so the technology will be available to people at a fraction of the current cost. The New Year’s party will be live on the Internet at 1blinkequalsyes.com.

I like that Minneapolis feels like a really small town: it’s very navigable. It does have nodes of artists who tend to work together, but you can go from one node to another and find tons of people cross-pollinating. It’s very accessible—even people who don’t describe themselves as artists feel free to participate. Of course, there are great and prominent art institutions in Minneapolis, but the truth is that there are enough artists trading sweat equity in this town to pull off incredible projects on a shoestring budget.

The scene here can be chaotic, but I like that. I have many friends who are artists that I admire, and it’s wonderful to go with the flow and take collaborative opportunities as they present themselves. I’d like to see more originality and more visibility for the diaspora communities in the Twin Cities, but I don’t think the cliques in Minneapolis are exclusive. If you want to get things done, there’s a venue. People are willing to help you out, as long as you’re bringing something to the table and you’re not a jerk.