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A Tampa Filmmaker went to North Dakota to meditate on the meaning of love, the results are gorgeous

“Crosby Rail” takes an objective look at untouched, rural America, and unveils a little about ourselves in the process.

“It’s hard to tell when love really starts, you know.” That’s what Lloyd Johnson tells his grandson, Dylan Melcher, in the short film, “Crosby Rail.” The award-winning short, shot and directed by Melcher, 30, was released to the public this week and visually chronicles a journey to his grandparents’ hometown of Crosby, North Dakota, just a few miles south of the Canadian border. The 15-minute clip is centered on the Threshing Bee, an event featuring vintage cars, tractors and goods all paraded in celebration of the wheat harvest. “It’s remote location and small population don’t attract large profit-driven companies,” is the way Melcher explained Crosby to CL. “The people there exist to farm and survive the brutal winters — and that cycle goes on and on.” (Full disclosure: this writer graduated high school with the filmmaker in 2003.) According to the United States Census Bureau, less than 1,300 people call Crosby home. To say that it’s small town is an understatement. The environment allowed Melcher to explore his grandparents’ 62-year marriage in a pure way while also giving him plenty of visual ammunition to load into his cameras (a RED epic, 1979 Canon super 8mm, 1972 Pentax) which captured a place still untouched by pop culture and corporate america. “It’s not so foreign as it is just magical to see in person,” Melcher said, explaining that photographing the state is easy if you take a little effort to pull the car over and explore fields, century-old barns, and talk with farmers. “It’s not that different from Tampa when it comes to the quality of people and history,” he said. It sure as hell looks different on film, and its exploration of love is a welcome addition to the minimalist, objective cinematography.

Melcher’s girlfriend — photographer Skyler Pursifull — is also heavily featured in the film, and she offered insight on how her love for Melcher grew during the trip, which was the first time she got to experience a shared passion for photography with a travel companion. “He would see something beautiful, which was basically everything everywhere in sight, and I would too so when he would pull the car over, we both jump out eagerly without any words or explanation needed,” she told CL. “Shared passion such as that truly connects people in ways that are hard to describe.” Melcher, admtitedly better at pictures than words, offered this bit on the way his love for Skyler grew during the trip. “For me, love is one of these things that grows and blossoms from something very small... what I've always enjoyed was explaining how I feel through the use of imagery,” he said. “I think the footage I captured of Skyler says it all.” Have a look at all that footage below, and learn more about the film at Listen to original music from Tampa artists JT Brown, Joseph Guerra, Matt Reisinger & Kristen Felicia Mirabal here.

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