InTheLimelight awards "The Bird" to Kettler, director of The Janesville Baby
April 7, 2008 —
InTheLimelight, a student organization dedicated to promoting artistic expression through film, awarded the first "Bird" award, modeled after the Oscar of the Academy Awards, to Daniel Kettler for writing and directing the short documentary, The Janesville Baby.
Kettler, a professional and technical writing senior, was inspired to create the film while on a tour bus traveling through Janesville, Minn. At the time, he was a sophomore in high school touring colleges. As the bus drove through Janesville, the driver was telling a story about a mentally handicapped girl who killed herself. In remembrance, a baby doll hangs in the window of the house.
Because it was a local legend, Kettler went back to Minnesota to interview local townspeople and get the basis for his documentary.
"We would actually drive out there just to see it," Kettler said.
After putting the story and the idea itself away for a few years, Kettler decided to create a 10-minute documentary on the local legend of Janesville.
Once he decided to go back to Minnesota, Kettler said that it was just a matter of getting other people to go.
All of the people who helped create the documentary either had little or no experience creating films.
Kettler and his small group of friends were able to get all of the filming done in one day, including interviews. After being interviewed by local police, Kettler was able to go into the house that boards the "Janesville baby," where he was able to talk to the owner of the house, a man who had lived there all of his life. Kettler did not set up any of the other interviews, but instead worked candidly. All of the people in the film are townspeople that Kettler managed to pull aside and talk with for a few minutes.
One day of filming took about three weeks to edit. Though having little experience with making short films, not having much experience with editing software, and not having had microphones to film with, Kettler was still able to produce his first documentary.
"I had to take six hours of footage and turn it into a 10-minute video," he said.
Currently, Kettler is finishing school while continuing to write for his production company Belvedere Films.
"As far as new projects, I don't have anything on the horizon," Kettler said. "But I do enjoy writing and I'm going to do it again."