in an intense 48 hours in July 2014, "Rolling Underground"
is a five-minute documentary on Milwaukee bowling alleys and the
characters you’ll find out on the lanes. The film was entered into a
contest sponsored by New Amsterdam vodka, who challenged
documentarians nationwide to make a short on the theme "It’s
Alex Walzak (cinematographer and editor), Ben Allen (director), and
his fiancée, Ann Kwiatkowski (executive producer), quickly assembled
a crew to help them document something important to Milwaukee, and
after a brainstorming session, they picked the art and sport of
With the plan
falling into place, they hit the street to do interviews and grab
footage at three local lanes — the Holler House, home to the oldest
lanes in the nation, Landmark Lanes and Regano’s Roman Coin, which
has the remnants of an ancient pair of lanes in its basement.
compelling footage was not the only production challenge the team
faced. Ann was pregnant at the time of the shoot, and shortly into day
one, the baby decided to arrive two weeks early.
Alex from the hospital, leaning over with contractions, and forwarded
the e-mails and info over to him," Kwiatkowski recalls. She
continued producer duties from the hospital bed, and her fiancé left
the hospital around 1 a.m. to help edit. In tribute to the day’s
events, the group decided to name the documentary company Newborn
two-day period was worth it. After submitting the film, among
approximately 100 entries from 30 different cities, they first won the
city contest for Milwaukee and moved on to compete against winners
from the other 30 cities. From there, they were placed in the top
five, which were screened at an international film festival in
Hollywood. They were announced as the winner.
won?!" Kwiatowski says, remembering her reaction. "We were
pretty pumped on that."
really proud we brought a national award back to Milwaukee, presented
at an international film festival in front of hundreds of
people," Walzak adds.
their victory and supportive words from people who have seen the
short, Newborn Productions is now looking to expand their five-minute
documentary into a full length feature, spending more time in rented
shoes filming the crashing of pins in local lanes.
got to three bowling lanes — there’s a lot more history we didn’t
touch on yet," Walzak points out, citing Falcon Bowl and Koz’s
Mini Bowl as two examples of bowling spots they didn’t have time to
But why is
bowling so important to Milwaukee’s identity?
matters is how you roll," bowler Jack Fugger tells the camera.
"And if you can roll a good game, it’s your town." You can
find out more at newbornprofilms.com.