Q&A with "Here is St. Louis" Filmmakers

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They say a picture's worth a thousand words. And high-res footage of our under-appreciated hometown set to music? Well sometimes there are no words, only love and wonder.

Last week St. Louis transplants John Pa and Matt Seilback of Anastasis Films released a neat little video about the city they love. If you haven't seen it yet, prepare to tingle with StL pride.

Here is St. Louis from Anastasis Films on Vimeo.

Read on for a Q&A with John and Matt about the journeys that led them from Korea and religious seminary and onto the Gateway City.

How did you two end up in St. Louis? John Pa: I grew up in St. Louis. My parents moved me here from Korea when I was 2 months old, and I didn't have much say in the matter. In my mid 20's, I moved to NYC. I said either God or my mother would pull me back to St. Louis. After several years, I'm back, and I'm grateful to be here.

Matt Seilback: My wife and I moved out here in the summer of 2005 for me to attend graduate school. Living here in the St. Louis area, I have fallen in love with the city of St. Louis. It's a great place that our whole family has grown to love and call home in a way we never expected to when we first moved here.

Was it tough to narrow down some of your favorite places? Were there any shots you missed? JP/MS: It was a bit of a challenge. We wanted to capture some of the most compelling places in our city. Those places that make it great. There were certainly others, but we also wanted to capture those who don't get as much exposure, especially on film. I know, I know, the Cardinals and the Arch aren't exactly lacking exposure, but this is called "Here is St. Louis". It would be difficult to leave out those two St. Louis icons in a video like this.

Can you tell me a bit about Anastasis? How did it form? What kind of films do you specialize in? JP: We love to tell stories and capture beauty in moving images. That's what we dream about everyday. I had experience starting businesses and love films and TV. Our mentor asked a few of his mentees to get together to help Matt brainstorm about next steps from his expiring job. It was in that meeting I thought that we could possibly work together. Matt certainly is gifted and hardworking, and several weeks after that meeting I asked him if he would be willing to partner with me to create films. We specialize in storytelling. We film in a documentary style with a cinematic feel. Most of our business at this point comes from producing promotional videos for companies and products, like www.whooptee.com an online t-shirt company.

MS: I earned my graduate degree at Covenant Seminary. After that, I worked at the seminary for a couple of years producing films and working on a few other media related things. While in seminary, I had the opportunity to work on the now Emmy nominated documentary, Joe's Place. John has a great eye and sense of timing and, in particular, he has a great business sense. As we discussed the idea, it became clear that by joining forces we would be better together. Are you surprised to see "This is St Louis" go "viral" (at least on a local level)? JP: Our goal was to provide a piece about St. Louis and for St. Louis. We were hoping that this video would inspire St. Louisans to love their city all the more. We also wanted the outside world to see St. Louis as we see it. We don't know if you know this or not, but apparently our city doesn't have the best reputation. We wanted to create a video that told the story as we see it. Did we think it would go viral? We hoped it would. We are thankful for those who live in and outside of St. Louis who have appreciated and shared this video. Thank you.

MS: Yes and no. We strove to make a beautiful video about a beautiful city, hoping that people would like it. But the response has been overwhelming! We're thrilled. We love the conversations that have started--and continued--about STL as a result of this little video that we made out of love. Thank you St. Louis for sharing the love for your city. It's well deserved...she's a beautiful place to live and visit.

I often hear people say that St. Louis is a "hidden gem" or under-appreciated by people who aren't from around these parts. Do you think that's true? JP: I heard a friend tell me that St. Louis is "secretly cool". We agree with that. I think it is under explored. There is a lot of fear that keeps people for exploring the city, but we believe it is a wonderful place to live, create, and be.

MS: Unfortunately it does seem to be true. But it is an incredible gem that needs to be shown for the marvel that it is. It's a great place to raise a family (my wife and I have two little ones) but it's more than that, it's a great place to live regardless of your place in life.

Check out the video, which includes shots of Bogart's Smoke House, Carlos' Hot Dogs, Cathedral Basilica, Cherokee Street Bikes, City Garden, City Museum, Climb So Ill, Firecracker Press, Fitz's, Gelateria Del Leone,, Kakao Chocolate, Kaldi's Coffee, La Vallesana, Moonrise Hotel, Pint Size Bakery, Pi Pizzeria, Schlafly, Soulard Farmer's Market, Spice Shop, Soulard Florist, St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis City Hall, St. Louis Metro, St. Louis Zoo, Sump Coffee, Ted Drewes, The Mud House, Three Sixty Bar, Tivoli Theater, World's Fair Donuts and other locales.

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