Minnesota filmmakers behind docudrama that recreated I-35W bridge collapse


A new television drama that aired Saturday night transported the nation back to the terrifying moments on Aug. 1, 2007, when a Minnesota bridge collapsed during rush hour. Minnesota filmmakers recreated the 2007 Interstate 35W bridge collapse for a new ABC television documentary series called "In an Instant."

Andy and Maria Awes of Committee Films put together the show, which profiles stories of survival. The series looks into "epic stories of survival," and the Awes are tapping into their news background to tell the stories. Maria is a former WCCO producer.

The special included dozens of first-person interviews about the disaster that killed 13 and injured 145, the Pioneer Press reports. The show wove those interviews with re-enactments and real footage of the collapse.

The Pioneer Press reports it took a few weeks to build the set in an abandoned parking lot in New Hope. The group tracked down the same makes of cars on the bridge that day, worked on duplicating the concrete cracks and beams. They also had to make the water look like it came from the Mississippi.

A 100-foot-wide section of the bridge was recreated, and tight shots were used to take viewers to the scene.

The footage looked so real, some people thought the bridge collapsed again.

The show aims to highlight survivors and how they react when thrown into a life-or-death situation. It also respectfully acknowledges those who didn't survive.

"It will not be lost on anyone that while we are talking to survivors, there are people in some of these events who did not make it," Maria Awes tells the Pioneer Press. "I think we've done a good job of treating the situation with respect and those individuals with respect as well."

Committee Films is based in Eden Prairie and aims to keep its productions in Minnesota as much as possible, noting it is important to keep the TV industry locals working in state. Minnesota offers Snowbate tax incentives for Minnesota productions.

Saturday marked the network debut for Committee Films, which has also done shows for National Geographic Channel, History and Travel Channel.

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