Real-Life Reels

Carrie Highman, Filmmaker

By Rachel Werner | Photographed by Hillary Schave

When Carrie Highman is behind the lens—or in the director’s chair—she sets about crafting a visual portal into the lives of others. “My time as a reporter at a CBS affiliate in La Crosse was really the catalyst that pushed me into filmmaking. I saw what a powerful communication tool it was from a news standpoint and the impact it had on the city,” Highman reflects. “Film allows us to step into someone’s world…while sitting in our living room or looking at our phone waiting in the checkout line.”

Highman decided to leave her day job in 2014 to pursue filmmaking full time, launching her company Dream Lens Media with husband and lone crew member, Tim. The work allows her to provide the in-depth perspective of the people and initiatives she encounters around the state. She specializes in micro-documentaries—films that last from five to 10 minutes.

Highman’s clientele has grown exponentially, thanks to a keen eye and empathic nature—evident in the gritty, yet heart-warming short vignettes she’s produced for Capitol Off Road Pathfinders, GENRE2030, Ice Age Trail Alliance and Zeteo Community Homes.

“I worked with Carrie on a film series about life and energy in Madison. Her episodes in the project stand out because she brings a lethal mix of story craft and ingenuity to documenting the human experience,” shares Madison Gas and Electric Residential Services Manager Charles Warner.

“Her passion is undeniable, and her smile is contagious, which made collaborating with her one of the joys of my career.”

Highman’s next big endeavor is The Eat Local Run Wild Project. In collaboration with farmer and ultrarunner Jonnah Mellenthin Perkins, the digital series will highlight the intersections of an active lifestyle and eco-living. “Sustainability is so important to outdoor enthusiasts because their favorite activities rely on a beautiful, healthy earth. They also really care about the food movement, what they’re putting in their bodies and how those choices impact the environment,” Highman explains. “Each episode will take place around the country exploring with a different adventure athlete his or her sport. Then they’ll explore a local food-growing production such as vegetable farming and breweries for a behind-thescenes look at what sustainable farming means and how you can make choices every day to eat local and support the health of our planet.”

Highman’s commitment to capturing the good in the world is a hallmark of her work. “Through working with Carrie on several film projects, I have been struck by her unwavering attention to detail and talent for finding an unexpected storyline in a seemingly ordinary narrative,” Perkins says. “She has even changed the way I think about my own story.”

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