Belle Plaine is paradoxically open about the fact that her creative process is a fairly insular one. It’s something she recently wrote about in her newsletter, The Belle Plaine Weather Report, as she touched on the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to her and her husband, fellow singer-songwriter Blake Berglund’s, routine.
“I’m stubborn when I work. The door to my office is locked. I crave privacy that verges on secrecy. I rarely share anything unfinished. It’s revolutionary that in recent months I’ve begun to seek feedback from a few trusted friends and have overcome the compulsion to resist any and all input.”
It would be entirely wrong, however, to say that the singer’s creative life isn’t without many collaborators, one of them being Berglund. In May, 2022, the pair gave the public some insight into their life away from the stage with a Creative Saskatchewan-funded hour-long film, Belle Plaine & Blake Berglund’s Living From Home. The intimacy of the project is immediately obvious in the teaser trailer (see below), with the camera following them as they pour coffees, rummage through their freezer, and record music. Before releasing the film to audiences, Plaine wrote that the piece was about a reset of sorts.
“Blake and I were experiencing what living from home was like. We were supposed to be living on the road! In the van. Bouncing from city to city, venue to venue, hang to hang. How are you supposed to do that in a global pandemic? We made Living From Home with all this in mind. Blake keeps saying that it was my vision, but the truth is that I couldn’t see much at all. I needed to be seen… [the project] is a representation of getting my feet back on the ground and my head back in the clouds. Where they belong.”
Blake and Belle used the funding from our Market and Export Development Grant’s Micro Stream to work with little jack films—who has worked with other Creative Saskatchewan-funded artists like Ellen Froese— and a host of other local collaborators, including Bryce Lewis, Chris Dimas, Bryn Besse, and Steve Leidal. The film was screened at a virtual event on May 1, 2022, and the duo say that embarking on this project opened new avenues for their long-time creative partnership.
“[It] allowed us to expand into a new creative discipline and revenue stream. The pandemic’s influence on digital broadcasting supported the idea of long form video as an income stream and content generator. It also allowed us to expose ourselves to our support with more intimacy and connection. Using the Substack platform to deliver additional behind-the-scenes insights and backstory, we found this project to be one that connected with our supporters on levels alongside studio albums and live performances.”
Though both artists have since returned to the stage, Belle Plaine at the 2022 Regina Folk Festival and Blake at Montmartre’s All Folked Up Music Festival, the pair say they are continuing to document their life for a video-based follow up.
“We continue to work in collaboration with little jack films in an ongoing accumulation of thoughtful video content, already sussing out the storylines – Living From The Country? Living From Kentucky? Either way, the cameras are rolling.”
Blake and Belle aren’t the only ones using the Market and Export Development Grant to their advantage. Saskatchewan musical heavy hitters like JJ Voss, Nick Faye, Universal Honey, and Jess Moskaluke are among the music-based recipients who have received this form of funding in the last year. The micro stream has a maximum of $5,000 per applicant (which can represent up to 50% of your overall marketing budget. Within our major stream, meant for larger-scale marketing opportunities, that maximum can jump up to $25,000 per applicant per fiscal year. The deadlines to apply depend on your artistic medium. You can be publishing a book, crafting, creating visual or performing art, promoting music, getting eyeballs on a film or television project, or doing some interactive digital work— you’ll have a different deadline in each instance.
By John Loeppky.