One of my goals with FlixChatter blog is to help promote indie filmmakers here, near and far. So when I heard that a local cable network is being rebranded to focus on MN-made content, I knew I wanted to highlight that here. Fortunately, the producer of the Minnesota-made film programming, Russell Johnson, is a friend of mine.
MCN6 is a Twin Cities local, non-affiliated cable network featuring MN made content in support of building strong diverse community. It reaches seven county metro area, over 600,000 cable subscribers. This year, MCN6 is being rebranded as a Minnesota-made Channel, produced by Russell Johnson as the MN-made programmer. The MCN6 is now managed by Stuart Devann and his management company, and Kevin Chilcote is the station’s General Manager.
Quick bio on Russell Johnson:
My introduction to the media began with the 1990’s as I worked with several news journalist reporting on the crimes of a destructive cult and I even made an appearance on CourtTV. I would write my unpublished memoir Deceived A Journey into Darkness about my experience in the Chung Moo Quan martial arts cult. Although the book remains unpublished in 2017 I release a 19 episode titled Deceived Podcast. While living in Colorado, I assisted 7-time Women’s World Martial Champion Kym Rock in making several self-defense videos for her Fight Like a Girl program.
Moving back to Minnesota in 2013, I became involved in the film community first as a volunteer at Twin Cities Film Fest and as a production assistant on several films including Sad Clown, Dragonfly. I would fill many roles in film including location manager, producer, reporter and actor.
How did you get involved in the rebranding of MCN6 as a MN-made channel?
Russ: I am a member of the Minnesota Filmmaker Meetup group which is activity working with MCN6 on the rebranding. I was invited to the first rebranding meeting because of my connection to Twin Cities Film Fest and the local community.
A: What would you & the MCN6 organizer envision the rebranding to be and how it would affect the MN/TV film community?
Russ: Most of the talented people that I know who work in film do it for free and they do so because it’s their passion. MCN6 wants to give a home for Minnesota Made film to be seen. We want to a community sponsored channel that through advertisement and sponsorship that we will be able to pay for content.
I know you’re passionate about films. What are some of your favorite movies growing up? Have your taste evolved over the years?
Russ: I was a fan of the old horror films. When I was a kid there was a program TV called Horror Incorporated I would like to produce the Minnesota version of that. I am a fan of Alfred Hitchcock and films like The Birds and Rear Window. Bruce Lee martial arts films and the TV show Kung Fu had an impact on my life.
You’ve been involved in the MN film community for a while. What are you most passionate about that’s happening right now?
Russ: I am excited that we are heading into the 10th year of Twin Cities Film Fest an organization that has brought joy and happiness to my life. This year the Independent Television Festival moves to Duluth Minnesota and for me this is an exciting time to work in television. Minnesota is about to become the hub of independently made television programming and with that comes opportunity for jobs in our community. My understanding is that they want to turn Duluth Festival into the Sundance Independent Television.
Lastly, please talk about the Valentine’s Day programming coming up on February 14th.
Russ: MCN6 wants diverse programming that represent all of Minnesota. I came about the short films selected in several ways, by posting that I had accepted them, reaching out filmmaker that I know and attending film festivals looking for them. The films are relationship-based but not all in a conventional or conservative way.
One of the films a woman falls in love with an electrical fan. As I understand, Hearts Want, the film that you wrote/produced Ruth, was filmed in MN but the story is actually set in the UK. The films are diverse in front and behind the camera. The Man Crush features a male to male crush and other films have black and women writers, directors.
LIST OF FILMS
(not necessarily in the order that they will appear):
- Sad Clown – Jason P. Schumacher
- Snail Mail – Josh Mruz
- The Man Crush – Ricky Loup
- A Verdant View – Nathan Block
- All Choked Up – Brent Duncan
- Hearts Want – Jason P. Schumacher
- The Unicorn – Jew DreamFirstBorn
- Wiggle Room – Pedro Juan Fonseca
- The Journey – Gwen Orth Ruhoff
- Sex Life – Cole Meyer
- It was you – Andrew Stecker
- Grown Men on Swings – Dan Stewart
- A Perfect Night – Samuel Mueller
- Blue Silver – Nathan Block
- Cami Leon – Amber Rhodes and Ryan Schaddelee
- Herb & I – Sebastian Schnabel
- BlunderLust – AJ Allan
- Relationship Spread – Jon Leininger
- M 4 W – Cynthia Uhrich
- Vows – Ingrid Moss and Alex Kohnstamm
- The Midway – Patrick Pierson
- Evergreen – Adam Zuehlke
Thanks Russell for the interview!
Be sure to tune in MCN Channel 6 on Wednesday evening, Feb 14th
and MCN6.org Live Stream from 6 – 10:03PM CST.