Guest Blog: 2014 AiR Amber Hansen / by Tim Giles

Called To Walls

Hello the friends of HUB-BUB and the Spartanburg community!

I am writing from Lawrence, Kansas to announce the recent completion and premiere of Called to Walls! (debut, documentary, feature by co-director Nicholas Ward an myself, Amber Hansen.)  As a 2014 HUB-BUB Air, I would like to share this project with you not only because it was in production during my residency but because the film and my time in Spartanburg greatly influenced one another.

Called to Walls is an 82min film chronicling the heartening story of unlikely partners in middle American communities, working together to reexamine their histories, celebrate what makes their towns unique, and imagine their futures in the form of monumental murals in the heart of their downtowns. The film follows four of the six projects making up the Mid-America Mural project including Tonkawa, Ok, Newton, Ks, Joplin, Mo and Akradelphia AR. The projects are lead by muralist Dave Loewenstein.

Nicholas and I began as assistant muralists on this project and brought our camera on a lark. The filming began very playfully in 2010 when we created a series of comedic vignettes to post to the mural blog site so that people could follow the project. As we became more invested in our host communities and the collaborative art process, our approach to telling the story became more focused. We lived in each of these communities for three months and made several return visits to gather follow-up interviews. Two of these return visits were made in route, traveling from Lawrence to Spartanburg to begin my HUB-BUB residency, stopping in Joplin, MO and Arkadelphia, AR.

Amber Hansen and Nicholas Ward

Amber Hansen and Nicholas Ward

The different perspectives shared by the HUB-BUB Airs and community were both timely and crucial to helping us think through different aspects of the film. One of the most difficult parts of editing the film together was imagining how four projects in four different communities, each with their own stories and characters, could be woven together into a single coherent narrative. 

This challenge was aided by evenings spent previewing works in progress with the other AiRs as well as with interested community and board members. Not only did we dedicate a night to watching an early, rough-cut version of Called to Walls, but the process of facilitating a feedback session became a tangible process that we recreated several times after returning to Lawrence. The critical feedback we received during these events became crucial to the completion of the film and helped us to see the film with new eyes. 

During my time in Spartanburg I lead and helped out with several community-based projects in various different mediums, including a mural that also fueled the motivations for this film. Spartanburg is now a community brimming with new murals and with a passion for community and the arts! We are thrilled to announce the completion of Called to Walls, and hope we can share it with you someday!

With love from Kansas!

Amber Hansen