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Documentary shares stories of Michigan's "good, hard-working folks"

Jon Vander Pol

Exported from Michigan is a documentary film that explores the way Michiganders are employing resilience, creativity, toughness, and innovation to pull our state back from the depths of the Great Recession.

Earlier this year the film won the 2015 Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Length Documentary at the International Beverly Hills Film Festival.

John Vander Pol wrote, produced, and directed the film.

He tells us that yes, Exported from Michigan is about the state’s economic recovery, but he uses that more as a framework. In his eyes, the story is really about “people working together to create the community and the quality of life that they want to see for themselves.”

When he started working on the film, Vander Pol says he knew “right off the bat” that he wanted to include stories from both local and big businesses in the film. But beyond that goal, he just let himself go with the flow.

“I had some stories I knew I wanted … but I also just sort of let the stories come to me organically,” he says, “and that worked out really well. People led me to some great people and some great stories.”

He lists the University of Michigan solar car team and the urban farms movement in Detroit as a couple of his favorite stories that made it into the film.

Vander Pol firmly believes that the solutions that people and companies are developing here in Michigan can have an impact worldwide.

“People have a lot of similar needs all over the country, all over the world,” he says. “We need clean energy, clean transportation systems, and we want to be able to enjoy our community.”

“Quality of life at the end of the day is what it’s about. It’s not about making money, it’s about making quality of life,” he says.

https://vimeo.com/46043142">Trailer from https://vimeo.com/exportedfrommichigan">Jon Vander Pol on Vimeo.

Through hearing and telling the stories of so many innovative people in our state, Vander Pol says he learned that wherever you go, “people are good, hardworking folks.”

“They’re going to work hard to make what they want to see happen, and I found that thread coming through over and over and over again. It was just really inspiring to go meet these folks and see what they were doing,” he says.


Jon Vander Pol is the writer, producer, and director of the documentary film Exported From Michigan. More information and the full film itself can be found at exportedfrommichigan.com.

– Ryan Grimes, Stateside

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