Farm to Table - December 09, 2013


Course Work is in the can and ready to debut this evening. Co-producer Lisa Bralts thinks you just might like it.

Farm to Table - December 03, 2013

Trailer Time!

Course Work is coming together, and we now have evidence. Producer Lisa Bralts offers you a first look.

Farm to Table - November 25, 2013

WILL-TV goes inside dinner season at Prairie Fruits Farm

From June to October, WILL-TV followed the arc of a farm-to-table meal that began—and ended—at Prairie Fruits Farm north of Champaign-Urbana. The documentary Course Work: Dinner Season at Prairie Fruits Farm, airing at 7 pm Monday, Dec. 9, on WILL-TV, shows viewers how the activities on the farm build to the night of the dinner.

Tim Meyers, WILL-TV director of photography for the project, and producer Lisa Bralts wanted to show how the fruit orchard, at one time lush with blackberries, peaches, pears and apples, dwindled with each weekly U-pick. The vegetable gardens were transformed as the deep greens and bright reds of basil and tomatoes gave way to the hardier fall crops. And the mud-loving hogs, growing noticeably fatter every week, began to disappear one by one as they headed off to become part of the season’s dinners on the farm.

Prairie Fruits Farm chef Alisa DeMarco and her kitchen team are shown cooking succotash, plating cheese, brushing oil onto crostini, and scooping homemade ice cream onto apple pie during the Sept. 15 dinner, which raised funds for Illinois Public Media. Footage also captured guests enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres, walking around the vegetable garden and touring the milking room.

“One of the goals of this project was to show viewers what life is really like on small, diversified family farms as the seasons move forward,” Bralts said. “We’re so lucky to have a farm just outside Urbana-Champaign where farmers are willing to share their experiences ―not just with us, but with the patrons who visit them for dinners, breakfasts, and U-Pick. They’re an amazing community resource.”

Farm to Table - November 22, 2013

Bonus Material

Footage review (which never happens just once - you're looking at the same stuff several times as you're putting things together) has probably been my favorite thing about working on Course Work so far - and the whole thing has been fun. The idea behind gathering footage is to gather as much as possible to increase your choices as you edit; most of the footage we shot won't end up being used. It's been an instructive exercise that appeals to my acquisitive side. I've learned a lot about my acquisitive side since I started doing In My Backyard a few years ago (nothing like not having enough audio for a piece as your deadline looms), and while video is similar, it's not the same. It's... MORE, somehow. Sound + vision. It's been great to work with Tim, who has a lot more experience in the video realm than I do. He has been vastly patient with me (at least to my face) as we work on this. 

Anyway. What I'm getting at is this: in terms of video production, there's a lot the viewer doesn't see. We're all familiar with "gag reels", scenes from films and TV shows that don't make it into the actual production but are saved for the end of the movie or show as "bonus material". We're probably not going to have time to put together any real bonus material, so I'm leaving you with a photo instead. I think Blue, the farm's dog, was getting a little tired of not playing fetch. 

We'll blog more soon, but we're REALLY looking forward to presenting Course Work to you on Monday, December 9, at 7 PM on WILL-TV. Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband will be joining us in the studio that evening, so it should be really fun. We hope to hear from you!  

- Lisa Bralts

Farm to Table - November 12, 2013

Crunch Time

Producer Lisa Bralts, Director of Photography Tim Meyers, and others at Illinois Public Media are deep into the particulars of getting Course Work ready to air.

Farm to Table - October 31, 2013

Show Title!/The Farm Connection

Director of Photography/Editor Tim Meyers checks in with a program title (finally!) and some musings about how filmmaking and farming might not be so far removed from each other.

Farm to Table - October 18, 2013


Producer Lisa Bralts goes through the summer's footage... and finds some older gems on her hard drive.

Farm to Table - September 30, 2013

Getting Ready For Our Close-Up

Director of Photography Tim Meyers and I have been filming for months out at Prairie Fruits Farm for a documentary about the arc of a farm-to table meal that begins - and ends -  on the farm. The filming has been happening since June - we've been gathering interviews, capturing footage, and occasionally battling the elements (the one day we got up super-early to capture the sunrise, the [unpredicted] clouds were low and thick and made for a wholly unphotogenic morning sky. Ah, well. We'll try again). Shooting is nearly complete; as soon as it's done, the editing - the stitching it all together - gets underway. We'll be working very hard these next 8 weeks - the program will be broadcast on WILL-TV in December.

Watch this space for blog entries about the progress of the project as it nears completion. It might be just a photo. It might be a lengthy entry about something we saw or experienced out on the farm - while it's only a few miles north of Urbana-Champaign, it can seem like another planet entirely (in the good way). This blog is a way for you to see the farm the way we saw it, including how dinner came to be and comes to be every year, as the farm cycles through the seasons.

- Lisa Bralts, producer