Solarand Multimedia is an organization committed to creating and promoting culture and arts in Wisconsin and the Midwest Great Lakes region.Ron Schaefer, an independent filmmaker with a staggering 19 films in his repertoire, spearheads the group. With its recently announced Spring Fling Series on Tuesday evenings at Club Timbuktu in Riverwest, Solarand Multimedia invites everyone from artists and activists to entrepreneurs and educators to come together in an exchange of ideas.
What compelled you to become a filmmaker?
I developed as a writer first. I was studying to be an anthropologist and I got involved in the theater program at UWM… it was a really good program where I learned how to be a director and stage manager. Out of school, I was writing books and plays… then the Milwaukee Rep hired me for an internship. Right about that time video and editing equipment became really cheap. Not only that, film festivals started opening submissions to movies shot on video. That’s when I put together a film company.
What type of films do you make?
The first project we had listed was an adaptation of my first stage play, called Jordana Davis. That took a decade to get done. We finished that last summer. Then I started to do documentaries. I started with paranormal topics because it was the easiest thing for me to do well, because that’s what I was interested in. I knew all the people involved with that, so I interviewed them and followed up on their tales. That, probably as much as my schooling, taught me how to do film. After that, we started doing more and more feature narratives.
What keeps you motivated?
I still believe we can find an audience and eventually become profitable. That idea is hard to knock out of my head, so I keep doing it. When I say we’re going to do a project, the people working on the film know I’m going to get it done. A lot of filmmakers don’t finish their projects. It has the poten tial to come of age somewhere down the road… that’s why I keep going.
Why did you recently change your company’s name from Solar Winds Inc. to Solarand Multimedia?
I started to develop this multifaceted approach because we need to grab as many different audiences—local, regional, national— as we can. What we’re doing is no different than what Disney does; we’re just really, really tiny, microscopic, and Disney is really, really big. Ultimately we want to develop as our own distributor.
In what ways are you branching out?
We’ll be sending out a new magazine called Third Coast Artists. We will also be developing an Internet TV channel and an Internet radio source on which to broadcast not only our work but the work of others. We will be developing a series of radio dramas as well. Soon we’re having a new Spring Fling film screening series of new and old works and other things beginning with Earth Week. That’s going to be held every Tuesday night during the spring at Club Timbuktu in Milwaukee’s Riverwest area. We’re trying to create a place where other writers, directors, planners, designers, etc. can network.