It took five minutes for DVMP program chair and EDU Film Festival Director Trey Wodele to realize that he was watching something special. He was reviewing a late entry for the EDU Film Festival, a Minnesota festival dedicated to young filmmakers. The short documentary titled JERRAD, chronicled the days leading up to its subject’s decision to spend a day at his high school without the aid of the walker that has always accompanied him to school.
Jerrad Solberg was born with Cerebral Palsy, a condition that affects his ability to use the muscles on one side of his body. He moves around with the help of a walker in the busy halls of Burnsville High School but rarely uses the assistance elsewhere. The documentary opens on archived footage of a two-year-old Jerrad undergoing physical therapy, and documents the progress he makes as he grows into a young adult. Director Scott Tinkham, 18 and a senior at Burnsville High School, delivers a skillfully shot and edited piece, a well crafted and mature story.
Tinkham says he just wanted to do something big before he graduated, something that would, “hit people in the heart.” He succeeded.
“It’s a touching story,” Wodele remarked, “It’s about overcoming a disability, but it’s about so much more, the extraordinary friendship between Scott and Jerrad shines through in the little moments where Scott steps into frame. And the strong family support, the love… it’s just an incredible story.”
Wodele shared the 15-minute long documentary with Michelle Knoll, a member of the IPR marketing team. Knoll, a former producer at KARE 11 and KSTP, knew it was a story worth sharing and decided that IPR would assist EDU Film Festival and Director Scott Tinkham in getting the word out about his short documentary and the screening on Friday, May 13.
“IPR supports young filmmakers as a financial sponsor to EDU Film Festival, but this was about more than publicizing our good deeds,” Knoll said. “We just wanted more people to see the film. It really moved me.”
Knoll wrote a press release and got an immediate response from her former colleagues at KARE 11. They loved the trailer and wanted to do a story on Scott and Jerrad. Days later, a film crew was on location at the boys’ high school, interviewing them about the film and the upcoming festival screening.
But the press didn’t stop there, FOX9 called next and sent a crew out to EDU Film Festival to interview Scott and Jerrad, minutes before the film hit the big screen for the first time. Both the FOX9 story and the KARE piece aired that evening. Days later, WCCO followed up the film’s success at EDU with a feature of their own. Local newspaper The Savage Pacer also wrote a story, as did The Sun, This Week. After the KARE 11 broadcast, anchor Julie Nelson called the film, “inspirational… I watched the trailer… I was just at my desk, just choking up.”
Tinkham took home awards for Best Documentary and Best in Fest at the EDU Film Festival. As part of his prize package from the festival, his short will screen at the Duluth Superior Film Festival on June 4th and the Twin Cities Film Fest this fall. He will also serve as the only high school filmmaker on the crew for the IPR professional/student collaboration Reset, a short film directed by Andrew Hunt and shooting this June.
“I was just happy to be able to help the film festival and the filmmaker get the word out. I’m happy for Scott that he got the recognition,” Knoll said of the media attention.
“It won’t be the last time we see Scott Tinkham in the news for filmmaking,” predicted Wodele, “He’s definitely a Minnesota talent to keep an eye on.”