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Morgan Schmidt-Feng Discusses the Five Year Journey of Making ‘On Her Own’

Filmmaker Morgan Schmidt-Feng writes a first-person account for MovieMaker magazine about his experiences making the documentary On Her Own. The film, which began in 2009 as a one-minute segment of a project about family farming, took on a life of its own as Northern California farmer Nancy Prebilich’s story resonated with the Schmidt-Feng and brought up memories of stories he’d heard about his own mother’s childhood on a family farm in Iowa. 

“My great grandmother was a third generation farmer and her grandparents came from Norway and settled in Iowa. They helped found the city of Badger, where corn was the primary crop. I heard stories about my mother and her brother John going to school in a one-room schoolhouse, and was told that prepping dinner was a lot more complicated then,” he writes.

Nancy Prebilich and trusty companion.

“So how did I get the family to trust me during the shoot? I took time with them so that they could get to know me. I knew that I didn’t want to control how this was going to go. As Nancy has often said, they liked my laid-back approach,” the filmmaker explains.