Minnesota Mean

Saint Paul, Minnesota | Film Short

Documentary, Sport

Dawn Mikkelson

2 Campaigns | Pierce County, Wisconsin

Green Light

This campaign raised $5,271 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

83 supporters | followers

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A short film on the Minnesota All-Stars, referred to as the “Minnesota Mean”, due to their tough playing style and worldwide ranking (11th out of almost 400 leagues), while coming from a state known for polite people wearing parkas or “Minnesota Nice”.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

Women’s roller derby is all about powerful women, inclusive of gender-identity, sexuality, and race. They are highly competitive with one another on the track and as athletes, but their dedication to one another off the track, above all else, is revolutionary. Also, the director is a woman.

The Story

A few years ago, my friend Lisa dedicated herself to joining the Minnesota RollerGirls. Lisa was 40 at the time and it took her a few years of training to be accepted to their local league. Since that time, I’ve watched “Bernasty” (Lisa) come into her power. She’s physically and emotionally stronger than I’ve ever seen her. Last year, she broke her ankle in 3 places while skating. The team rallied around her, delivering meals and taking her to doctors appointments. Instead of quitting, Lisa was back the next season. Seeing how derby changed Lisa’s life is what drew me to tell the story of the top-ranked players of the Minnesota RollerGirls in their international season.


In a media culture that still tends to play women against each other as adversaries having cat fights, the culture of derby is the opposite. Yet, roller derby has consistently been portrayed in the mainstream as a frivolous hobby with girls in short skirts and fishnets, fighting  for the titillation of male fans. The Minnesota Mean are done with that portrayal and so am I. As a woman, a mother of two young girls, and a filmmaker, I find myself crying every time I watch them, because the convey something rarely seen in film: a group of powerful women who are dedicated to each other and who simultaneously embrace and defy any gender stereotypes.


In addition, I have discovered through the making of this film that I need to consciously change how I work as a filmmaker. Historically, most of my collaborators have been male. As production continues, I have added only female and gender-non-conforming members to the crew. 


I was originally developing this project as a series from the start. Unable to secure a broadcast partner quickly (this began in April of 2017), I decided to pare it down to a short documentary film of the 2017 season. 


I am still hoping that this short will help show the powers-that-be that the Minnesota Mean can carry a broadcast season.


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Travel Expenses

Costs $2,000

Flights and lodging for our crew from Minnesota to Philly for the WFTDA Champs!


Costs $3,000

Because they work hard and deserve to be compensated for that work.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team

Dawn Mikkelson - Director/Producer

A 2015 Emmy Award Winner and 2010 McKnight Filmmaking Fellow, Mikkelson has shown her work on PBS and international festivals including the Galway Film Fleadh, Cambridge Film Festival, IDFA, Leipzig DOK Market, and Washington DC Environmental Film Festival. Mikkelson has completed four award-winning independent feature documentaries, “The Red Tail”, “Green Green Water”, “THIS obedience”, and “Treading Water: a documentary”, all of which illuminate larger societal issues while creating understanding through the intimate stories of individuals.  Her fifth film, “Risking Light” is set to premiere in fall 2017. From a mother's meeting with her child's killer to a genocide survivor's decision to reject vengeance, “Risking Light” is a documentary feature about four remarkable people traveling from trauma through resilience. A former television news reporter, Mikkelson often speaks and writes for MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) and produces for TPT (Twin Cities PBS). Mikkelson is a Minnesota Film Fatales member.


Jim Tittle - Cinematographer

Jim Tittle is an artist/filmmaker from St. Paul, Minnesota.  He received his MFA from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied studio art. After returning to the Twin Cities, he became involved in the local art scene, exhibiting his installations and photographs at galleries and museums.  In 1989, he co-founded the largest alternative art gallery in the region.

A growing interest in narrative motivated Jim to transition from still photography to filmmaking.   He has worked as a director of photography on assorted independent film projects, and regularly produces video for corporations and non-profits.

Tittle has received fellowships and awards for his art work from the Bush, Jerome and McKnight foundations, as well as the Minnesota State Arts Board. 

Nanne Sørvold - Cinematography

Maribeth Romslo - Cinematography

Carolyn Draayer - Cinematography

Carolyn is a director, cinematographer and editor based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Born with a passion for storytelling, Carolyn found a love for strategic communication during her time at Gustavus Adolphus College where she earned a B.A. in Communication Studies. She now gets to merge the two to create dynamic storytelling for a wide variety of clients, including Fortune 500 Companies, Olympic athletes, colleges, wedding couples and families. She loves collaborating with her clients to create captivating films.

Cliff Dahlberg - Cinematography

Cliff Dahlberg is an up-and-coming producer who has become a jack-of-all-trades around the office. By dabbling in nearly every project that has come through the door, Cliff went from production intern to Emmy-nominated producer in nothing flat and has become a key business strategist for Twelve Plus. With a major in Classics, he could not be more well-rounded.

Michael Sutz - Cinematography

Brenda Piekarski - Camera Operator/Media Managment

Brenda Piekarski has 15+ years of production, editing, and motion graphics experience. With a background in corporate communications, she can make logos dance, CEO's shine and tradeshow displays rock. To balance out the business side of things, her true passion is outdoor adventure sports and producing the Among the Wild film series that will give you an inspiring adrenaline rush.

John Sims - Sound

John has been a sound professional in the film and television industry for over twenty years. Working both as a location sound mixer and post production engineer, some of John's film credits include, A Prairie Home Companion, Thin Ice, and Factotum as well as commercial spots for Medica, KIemps Ice Cream, Famous Dave's, Monday Night Foodball, and Adidas.


Current Team