How “Up There” Came to Be

A conversation with Zoe Kanters, Michael Blaustein & Daniel Weingarten

Michael: For as long as we can remember, we have always wanted to create. From making home movies about magic vampires in 7th grade to putting on kid plays in front of the family on Thanksgiving to performing scenes from Ace Ventura and recording it on a TalkBoy FX and playing it over the PA system at school during a fire drill that you caused. 

Everyone did that, right? 

Zoe: Uh-huh...

*Zoe slides away from Michael*

Daniel: Yeah, for sure... all that minus the fire drill and swap out Ace Ventura for I Love Lucy. 

Michael: Point being, we all ended up living in Los Angeles because of this life long dream of creating art.  We wanted to create art that inspired people, that moved people… and then life happened. 

Daniel: We had to get side jobs or focus on other creative aspirations to you know… pay for rent... and food... and overpriced cocktails that we don’t really need. 

Zoe: One day it all came to a head when I was opening up at the restaurant I had been working at. Naturally, that feeling of unfulfillment was weighing heavy. After my shift, I got on the phone with my mom, as I did, to vent out my frustrations. And that’s when she told me rather casually, “Why don’t you just quit your job, come home [to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan] and make a movie.” 

Daniel: She suggested we make a movie the same way she would suggest we go on a camping trip. 

Michael: Which in a way it kind of ended up being. All about survival and endurance.  

Zoe: And I thought about it, texted Daniel saying “Wanna quit our jobs, go back home and make a movie?” He texted me back a minute later, “Yup.”

Daniel: I had nothing better going on. 

Michael: That makes three of us. 

Zoe: And most importantly, I knew the story I wanted to tell. I knew that we could do it on a low budget back home. And I knew the people that I wanted to surround myself with in order to bring that story to light. 

Daniel: So, at that point, we started laying the foundation to make a film. After writing the script, we scraped together a small budget, assembled a tiny crew, and a few months later we were in the U.P. making a film. And did we know what we were doing?

Michael: Nope. 

Zoe: Not a damn clue. 

Daniel: But we had a story we were passionate to tell, a team filled with will and a community that opened their doors to us. 

Zoe: And that’s how the Up There journey started. A little push from mom and a confident three letter word response.
Michael: This film came about how most life changing experiences happen… in an instant. 

Zoe: We had made so many sacrifices in order to get to this point. To be in LA. To be a part of the struggle. And now it was time to make a ton more in order to make this life long dream a reality.

Daniel: And that’s exactly what we did. What followed was a journey we would never forget that ended with the movie we’re so excited to share with the world!