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Building Bham: Made in the Magic City

Image via Made in the Magic City

Ever wonder what screen printing sounds like? Like a squeegee, mostly, though the Birmingham version – as documented by Made in the Magic City – also features a break in drum beat courtesy of St. Paul & the Broken Bones.

The Made in the Magic City web series kicked off with a feature on local screen printing company Yellowhammer Creative, just as they were prepping concert posters for St. Paul’s 2013 Art on the Rocks show. “At the time it was really exciting having camera crews following us around,” said Yellowhammer Co-Founder Brandon Watkins. “It made us feel like big shots when we were just, you know, screen printers.”

But Brett Forsyth, Yellowhammer’s other creative half, thinks the audience felt a bit of that stardust too: “I think folks generally really liked it and were really excited to see somebody showing folks in the city trying to do things for the city – and actually for themselves as well – but also kind of shove the city forward.”

For those of us who grew up here, Birmingham often felt like a city trapped in time, an afterthought to the suburban sprawl. It was a nice enough place to live but not a place where interesting things happened.

Made in the Magic City is working hard to change that perspective, featuring people you haven’t necessarily heard of, no matter how plugged in you think you are. “People can’t imagine that the sort of cool things that are happening in other places are happening here, that the kind of people they read about living and working in other places are living and working in Birmingham,” said Chloe Collins, executive director of the Sidewalk Film Festival.

Collins also sees the series as a crucial archiving project: “I think it’s super important for us to embrace sort of a new way of record keeping” she explained, “…and using film is probably the best way to do that.”

The series is documenting Birmingham as it is now in this moment of transition, moving forward from its complicated past without abandoning it, writes co-creator Ryan Kindahl, and it’s a job no one else has taken on. Kindahl and series co-creator Dan King are also co-owners of local production company 2threefive. Made in the Magic City is their web-based labor of love.

Image via Made in the Magic City

As with any pet project, the challenge is protecting it from the pressure to prioritize paid work, Kindahl explained, and their initial production goal of one feature per month has slipped by (they’ve produced 7 over the last 18 months or so). Now they’re raising money on Kickstarter to pay for the series and help keep it going. With a fully-funded campaign, King and Kindahl promise six month’s worth of stories.

The crowdsourced funding strategy also means a chance for greater community involvement in the series: “This can be a complete citywide project that everyone can be involved in and everyone can be proud of,” Kindahl said. And remember, Kickstarter is something you can do even in the midst of a post-Thanksgiving food coma.

So go on and be an armchair activist and click here. But do it now. The funding deadline is tomorrow at 7pm.