"... I might call it Uncle Henry," he says. "I got a roaster named Gertrude and a truck named Uncle Henry."
Teepell took his small-batch coffee-roasting side business and added a new element to it: a coffee truck. "Grin" explores the Teepell family journey from owning a side business to taking it up full-time and creating the Grin coffee truck.
The film is an example of the work Blue Magnolia does in Mississippi. The company has sought to highlight the bright spots in towns all over the state.
Alison Fast and Chandler Griffin say their goal in creating Blue Magnolia was to tell stories that build better, more connected
"What we're asking communities is, 'What is life giving to you?' (and) really looking deeply into what life has been giving to those communities in the past," Fast says about Blue Magnolia.
In 2006, Griffin, a Jackson native, and Fast, who is from Boston, met while running a media-based workshop in South Africa through Barefoot Workshops and then made the sudden decision to get married.
After traveling and teaching the workshops in the Middle East and Africa, they decided to bring what they learned to Mississippi. Beginning in 2005, they ran documentary photography and filmmaking workshops in Clarksdale and the Delta and still do media-based workshops in the Delta. In 2013, the couple began Blue Magnolia. They have spent the last few years traveling around Mississippi, filming stories of small-town successes and revitalizations of culture.
Besides Grin Coffee Co. other subjects of their documentaries include Sweet Magnolia Gelato Co. in Clarksdale, Blue Delta Jean Co. in Tupelo, and Yalobusha Brewing Co. in Water Valley.
"We want to open up a rolling conversation across the state about how Mississippi's creativity can be used to revitalize communities and small towns," she says.
Now, Blue Magnolia, along with filmmaker and Jackson native Natalie Irby and her company, Corner to Corner Productions, is working with state agencies—such as Visit Mississippi's Bureau of the Creative Economy and Culture, Mississippi Heritage Trust, the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Mississippi Main Street Association—to produce 25 documentaries that they plan to share during small-town film festivals across the state in 2017, which aligns with Mississippi's bicentennial. The goal is for these films to create a dialogue and highlight both the state's challenges and what makes it great. Some of the themes of the films are new literacy, the creative economy, racial reconciliation, health and wellness, and arts and place-making.
"Your community is a canvas, and your community is a classroom of teaching and learning with one another," Fast says.
"We're opening up a space to creatively have concrete conversations with chambers of commerce, with institutions, as well as individuals who make (towns) tick. Really, we're talking about passionate people, in the end."
Blue Magnolia Films hopes to screen, "Pulse," a documentary about design company NunoErin, LLC., at Fondren’s First Thursday on Oct. 6. At press time, the screen hadn’t been confirmed. For more information on Blue Magnolia Films, visit bluemagnoliafilms.com.
In the original version of this story, Tommy Teepell’s last name was originally spelled as Temple. Chandler Griffin and Allison Fast met while running a media-based workshop in South Africa through Barefoot workshops, not while filming on location in the country. Also, Fast and Griffin have been running documentary photography and filmmaking workshops in Clarksdale and the Delta since 2005.