“At my core I am a storyteller,” says writer, producer and director Maribeth Romslo. This storyteller and Edina resident has created an impressive body of work. Her feature film Dragonfly was released in the spring of 2016 and has been well received at film festivals around the country. It follows several short feature films, including the sci-fi short The Light at the Laundromat and a feature-length documentary called Our Journey Home, both in 2015. Romslo’s production company, Airplanes for Breakfast, has also created short promotional pieces for businesses and non-profits, as well as commissioned works for individuals to celebrate marriages or new babies called “love stories” and “family stories.”
One current project is a series called Spark that focuses on girls and women working and studying in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). The first film in the series, produced and written with her creative partner Cristina Pippa, is called Amelia. It’s the story of a young girl crippled by polio whose hobby is listening to her shortwave radio. She hears Amelia Earhart’s distress signals from her final doomed flight and builds her own radio transceiver to communicate the famed aviator’s message.
The film was shot in Romslo’s house in December of 2016. They didn’t think of it as the first in series until the project was underway. Romslo feels as though there’s a lack of good storytelling aimed at the 3rd–6th grade audience and has a hard time finding good stories for kids her son’s age. “I have an ulterior motive,” she says. “I have an 8-year-old son, and I wanted to create content for his age group.” So, not only was the movie filmed in her home, but the inspiration for expanding the project into a series came from there as well.
“Each film in the series will be about an ordinary everyday girl who has a chance encounter with a famous woman in history,” Romslo says. They hope to show the films to Girl Scout troops and Girls Who Code clubs, as well as in schools. Amelia will be launched with a museum screening tour that includes the New York Hall of Science and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago in the winter and spring of 2018.
Another project unfolding for Romslo is a collaboration with Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon’s new venture, Hello Sunshine. Romslo has been chosen to be a digital short film producer for Witherspoon’s new company. She and Witherspoon share a commitment to creating work by, for and about women. Romslo is proud of the fact that Dragonfly had women in the key behind-the-camera roles. Fifty percent of the crewmembers were women.
Airplanes for Breakfast is working on a lot of projects—many of them filmed right here in Romslo’s hometown. That puts Edina on the map as a hub of filmmaking and storytelling activity. When asked about the impressive, and often overlapping, list of projects and release dates Romslo matter-of-factly answers, “I like to stay creatively busy.” So keep an eye out. You might find an active movie set right on your street.
Visit sparktheseries.com for activities and to watch Amelia for free.