Local lens, worldwide view

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Location Images and iDream.tv started with an eclipse and the search for the beginning of the universe. In 1979, for their first project together, filmmakers Edie French and Paul Auguston traveled to Bowbells, N.D. to produce a film for the University of Minnesota’s astronomy department about a team of scientists hoping to discover the secrets of the origin of the universe in a total eclipse of the sun.

Since then, their work has taken them around the world: to India to film Rita Mustaphi and her Katha Dance Theatre; to Peru for a video project on water reclamation; and to China for a project on industrial espionage. They’ve produced videos about a student history trip to Ghana for the African American Academy for Accelerated Learning, as well as on educational family tours in Kenya.

They’ll go to any location to get the image they need, including the Egyptian-Libyan border to recapture the image that was their first passion: a solar eclipse.

French and Auguston are president/CEO and creative director, respectively, of Location Images/ iDream.tv, a global business firmly rooted in the local, with roots and a studio in Southeast Minneapolis.

“We’re delighted to be in this space!” said French of their new production studio on Southeast Eighth Street. The two recently inaugurated the studio with an event dubbed a “local open house with a global audience.” The event was both a local and global affair. “We had about 100 guests here in the studio,” said French “but 600 more in our online audience, as we broadcast three hours of live interviews with clients and colleagues.”

For French, opening the Southeast studio is a homecoming. She grew up in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood where her parents still live, attended Marcy School, the Free School, and Marshall-U High School. The alternative education programs of the Southeast schools opened up the film and broadcast business for French and made it possible for her to study filmmaking through the Urban Arts program at Film in the Cities, where she met Auguston. (Their journeys together have also included a trip down the aisle — French and Auguston are married.)

Location Images is the production side of the business. The other side, iDream.tv, is their internet distribution service. French and Auguston can create a promotional video, training video, or a podcast for an organization and then distribute it inexpensively over the internet. “There are so many ways to distribute things,” says French. “Marketing has become so wonderful, especially for nonprofits using email links.”

At their website, www.idream.tv, one can find the depth of their work — video channels, photos, video streams, and virtual tours of sites as new and near as Phoenix on the River (condos under construction near St. Anthony Main) or as ancient and distant as Stonehenge.

French said they particularly love working with Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) — everything from broadcasting School Board meetings to producing teacher-training videos and programming for the MPS cable channel 15.

Location Images has a number of arts clients, many of them in theater and dance, for whom they film performances and then create short clips for the organizations to use for promotion. Local actor Linda Loving took her one-woman production — about early mystic and spiritual guide Julian of Norwich — to Norwich, England, for a performance in Julian’s own 14th-century church and cell. Location Images filmed the performance there and helps Loving market the video.

Other arts clients include Frank Theatre, Pangea World Theatre, Open Eye Figure Theatre, Kevin Kling, Jon Oulman, and various bands and musicians. Samples of these performances can be viewed at the iDream.tv website. “We’ve filmed almost everything that Frank Theatre has done,” says French. “Mother Courage was fun to do. They produced it in the Pillsbury “A” Mill machine shop.”

In 2006, French and Auguston pursued their fourth eclipse, this time in Egypt with Egyptian astronomers. “It was gorgeous,” she said. “There were tents in the middle of the desert, but we arrived in fog! It almost never rains there, but there’d been torrents of rain two days earlier. Fifteen minutes before the eclipse, everything cleared off.” They’ve incorporated an eclipse photo into their logo and the home page of their business website.

iDream.tv can stream performances live to audience members anywhere who “tune in” electronically to the performance. Later, the performances are still available for fans or for promotional use by the artists. “At our grand opening party, we got emails from all over, saying: we’re watching,” said French.

The new studio is decorated with colorful painted panels by Tacoumba Aiken, one of the artist clients featured in an interview at the grand opening. “His philosophy is close to ours,” says French. “It’s all about community. Aiken calls his work ‘spirit writing,’ full of intertwined figures who are the spirit of the community. We have a strong commitment to being a part of the world we live in, a very diverse, very powerful, very creative world. Being a positive part of that community is very important to us.”

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