April 20, 2020
Q&A with “The Earthkeepers” Filmmaker Mitch Teplitsky

Learn more about The Earthkeepers from filmmaker Mitch Teplitsky.

Earlier this year we toured the INseparable Films to eight cities and towns and now they will be available to enjoy from your home. On April 21, The Earthkeepers premieres on Facebook at 7 p.m. ET. Tune in here: https://bit.ly/TheEarthkeepers

Mitch Teplitski is a producer, based in Bloomington, Indiana since 2017, after spending most of his life in New York City, with long stints in Peru (the country, not the Indiana town), where he made several documentaries. He was marketing director at Lincoln Center and studied marketing at University of Pennsylvania.

Gabriel Lantz is a producer/director/editor and Emmy-nominated videographer for television, documentaries and branded content. His credits include projects for PBS/WTIU, MTV an educational video about climate change in China and a documentary-in-progress about yoga pioneer Amrit Desai.

Before watching, learn more about The Earthkeepers filmmaker Mitch Teplitsky:

How did you choose the story/topic of your INseparable film?

I first drew up a list of about eight ideas, all involving people I knew in Bloomington, who I thought were doing interesting things that could fit the theme. I interviewed all of them, including Ryan. I had met him in a weekly “men’s group,” and heard him talk about leaving academia to farm to begin a composting business. What clinched it for me was when he told me about his plans to partner with Made up Mind and hire ex-offenders. That just struck me as a potentially very cool and unexpected story.

What was the toughest challenge of making your film? 

There’s always a multitude of challenges– but I would say, in this case, it was in the editing phase. We began editing later than planned because our initial editor was wrapping other projects. Then he had to move on to a full-time day job. Fortunately, we found an excellent editor to complete the film, but we lost quite a bit of time and missed some deadlines. A reminder/lesson: editing takes more time than you think, even for a short film!

As a director, what kind of stylistic choices did you make and why? 

My partner Gabriel and I discussed this quite a lot. We wanted footage that was intimate, “real,” vérité-style when possible. Our subjects and place are down-to-earth (justifiable pun), the budget was modest– we didn’t want to make this super slick or rehearsed. We certainly didn’t want any third party interviews, we knew we wanted our subjects to speak for themselves. On the other hand, Gabriel is a skilled cinematographer, so he knows and cares about capturing beautiful imagery, and I think we did that. In the end, we wanted and got a mix of approaches, including sit down interviews, cinema-vérité (on the fly, some shot with iPhone) for intimate and/or unplanned moments, beautifully shot landscapes and other B-roll.

Was there anything that got left on the cutting room floor or you couldn’t include for some reason that you’d like to share?  

We got to know and record some pretty powerful, moving stories with the men from Made up Mind, stories about life in prison, and the hard realities and challenges they face after coming out. In our early edits, we tried including some of that material, but ultimately, realized it’s really another film.

Tune in to our digital INseparable Film Fest on Facebook on the following dates:

April 7: From Sundown to Sunrise (Valparaiso)
April 14: Hometown Media (Wayne County)
April 21: The Earthkeepers (Bloomington)
April 28: Raised in Contrast (Lebanon)

After making their premieres on social media, the full films will be available to stream at inseparablefilms.org.

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