It’s been quiet on “The Perennial Plate” front for the past year. The online film series about food production has been on hiatus, and longtime fans have noticed.
So what are filmmakers Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine up to?
The short answer is this: They took a baby break. Blame it on their 15-month-old son, James. Or, perhaps, credit him for their new inspiration.
“The Perennial Plate,” which won two James Beard Awards, had involved extensive travel, first throughout Minnesota (resulting in 52 videos), then the U.S. (42 states and 23,000 miles) and finally all over the world (more than a dozen countries) as the filmmakers documented where our food comes from.
Then Klein and Fine produced a 13-episode PBS series, “The Victory Garden Edible Feast,” which aired last year.
When baby James came along soon afterward, the filmmakers shifted to smaller side projects that allowed the new family time together in their Minneapolis home.
“But now we need to get back to work,” Klein said in an interview. Consider this “The Perennial Plate 2.0.”
Travel is still part of their new project, but it will be less time on the road as the new parents hunker down in a location for an extended period and immerse themselves in the food culture of that area. Their first stop is Colorado, where they are headed in early June, followed by Ireland and then Mexico, with plans to spend two months in each location — and the expectation to produce 30 films.
“It’s hard to travel place to place to place with a baby with us — and we didn’t want to be separated all the time,” Klein said. “So we will go the way of Airbnb and babyproof it, and set up a crib or Pack ’n Play and give a sense of normalcy for the baby. We’ll see how this works. It’s an experiment. It’s our method of getting back to work as a family.”
To work out the new approach, Klein contacted tourism boards and networked with contacts he had made over the earlier years of travel.
“We’re in full research mode for Colorado,” said Klein, who noted that he’s practicing flying a drone for photo possibilities on the slopes.
Among his plans out west are to follow sheep herders as they take their animals to higher elevations in the mountains for the summer, and to check out a fish hatchery that replenishes streams and rivers throughout the state. “We always have a passion to tell a diversity of stories,” he said.
Hunter Johnson, a filmmaker, will join the team. “He’s a talented young man who has done a lot of work with us,” Klein said.
The first film will be available by late June on theperennialplate.com, as well as online at Tastemade (tastemade.com), AppleTV and YouTube.
Klein is looking forward to the new venture online. “It was a fantastic experience working with PBS, but the interaction with the audience is so much stronger and immediate when the videos are posted online,” he said. “And it’s a different kind of engagement.”
The couple have produced a trailer explaining their upcoming projects, using a stop-motion technique (a similar production of theirs was nominated for an Emmy in 2015). Find it at theperennialplate.com.