Cheeseheads: 'More than just a funny foam hat,' filmmaker says


Here's a philosophical question for you: What does it mean to be a Cheesehead? One Wisconsin native who's been living out of state for the past 25 years decided to find out for himself.

John Mitchell, who grew up in Cameron in the northwest part of Wisconsin, is a freelance film producer in California.

A few years ago, after a visit back home and a trip to the Rose Bowl to watch the Wisconsin Badger football team, he decided he wanted to go back to his roots and try to figure out what's so special about his home state.

Mitchell has spent the last four years driving around Wisconsin with an inflated cow sitting in the back seat of his car – talking to fellow Cheeseheads and filming more than 100 hours of footage, according to Action Reporter Media,

At first, Mitchell says, the film was going to focus on Green Bay Packers fans – the ones who most often wear those foam cheesehead hats.

But the film evolved over time to include a much broader look into the culture of the state, WQOW reports. Mitchell calls it a "love letter to Wisconsin."

He also tracks down the history of the word "Cheesehead," with the help of some linguists at UW-Madison.

Mitchell just recently finished editing 150 hours of footage into a film that's slightly less than two hours. Its name, appropriately, is:

"Cheeseheads: The Documentary (We are so much more than a funny foam hat)."

"While the film is quite entertaining, it's also an insightful observation on love of place, and some of the many wonders of Wisconsin and our beloved Cheesehead culture," Mitchell said, according to Action Reporter Media, "and I want as many people as possible to be able to share in that."

Mitchell is now working on plans to sell DVDs of the film, probably early next year, and hopes eventually to be able to provide a free copy to every library in the state of Wisconsin.

So, after all that research, what is Mitchell's definition of a Cheesehead? Here's what he says on his website, iamacheesehead.com:

"Beyond the clichéd notion represented in the media ... Wisconsin is a place like none other, filled with some of the most hard-working, passionate, and generous people on earth, who are obsessed with beer, cheese, and football, especially when all three involve the Green Bay Packers."

Here's the trailer for the documentary:

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And here's a link to an audio interview with Mitchell on a Milwaukee radio station.

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