Attendees at the 2011 Cannes International Film Festival got a close-up look at the streets and streams of Bloomington in the short film Collecting Hope, about environmental stewardship made by local media group Monarch Media Studios Inc.

Filmmakers David Freemas, TJ Lewis, John Mitchell, and Luke Tate wrote, shot, edited, and scored the film in only two days as part of the international 48 Hour Film Project Go Green competition. Collecting Hope took second place out of hundreds of entries, earning it a spot among the top five winners that were screened at Cannes.

“We never thought we’d make it this far,” says Mitchell, Monarch’s founder and executive director. The company, a marketing and design agency, focuses on commercial work. Tate, who directed the film, says the time constraints of the competition—though maddening—were what allowed the team to commit to the project despite their hectic schedules. “It wasn’t a marathon, it was a sprint,” he says.

The rules specified that participants would receive instructions on a Friday evening, including a theme, a character, a prop, and a line of dialogue to incorporate. By Sunday night, they would need to submit a finished film using, as it turned out, the concept of “Save the Environment,” an artist named T. Dupont, a bowl, and the line, “When does she arrive?” Their five-minute film—a dreamlike story about a boy who helps others by recycling found objects—can be viewed online at

Lewis and Freemas traveled to Cannes for the screening. “I didn’t really know what to expect,” Lewis says. “I knew about the celebrities and the red carpet, but there were also so many people there who were hungry for the same things I wanted.”

Those desires amount to finding a way to balance commercial projects with more storytelling work like this film, he says. For the four young filmmakers, Bloomington’s atmosphere of creative energy gives it the potential to become “the Austin of the Midwest.”