Who the Folk?! Alex Kohnstamm

Welcome to “Who the Folk?!” Every week on Monday we feature a new member of our Jewish community. Know someone we should feature? Nominate them by sending an email to [email protected].

Last week week we got to know Judy Victor. This week meet Alex Kohnstamm! Alex is a local filmmaker producing a lot of great work in the Twin Cities. But he didn’t always want to be a filmmaker. His original career path was quite different…

TC Jewfolk: Are you from the Twin Cities?

Alex: I am. I was born and raised in St. Paul. I graduated from Lawrence University in 2012.

TCJ: What have you been doing since you graduated?

Alex: I have worked various jobs such as a mentor at IFP — MN (Independent Filmmaker Project). I was a production assistant at Twin Cities Public Television for about eight months. Then I left that job and started my own production company called Kobamm Productions that I’ve been doing full-time for about a year and a half now. So that takes up all of my time!

TCJ: What kind of stuff do you do with Kobamm?

Alex: The company does everything from video work to photography. We specialize in music videos, commercials, narrative filmmaking, corporate videos, weddings from time to time. We also do fashion photography, glamour, spreads, commercials, billboards, marketing/advertising/branding, and stuff like that.

TCJ: Have you done anything we might recognize?

Alex: The last short film I made called Rosie got a lot of press. It played at the Cannes Short Film Corner, it played on PBS, it won a few awards–but locally it should be recognized because it was on TPT (it played for about a month), and it played at the Walker as part of their MNTV segment. Local filmmakers submit work, and IFP and the Walker collaborate to pick a good number of films that they show on TPT and at the Walker. It’s a lot of fun and a really good experience.

TCJ: Are you pretty involved with IFP?

Alex: I was more involved when I used to teach there, but I’m still a member, and I love what they do for the local film scene. They’re also a really good networking place. They’re kind of like a film center, so they do a lot of courses, and bring in a lot of professionals to help teach younger people about the business.

TCJ: Have you always been into film and wanting to be a filmmaker?

Alex: Actually, when I started college I went to Purdue University to be a chemical engineer.

TCJ: What?!

Alex: Yeah! And I absolutely love chemistry, and I still took those courses in college, but I kind of fell out of love with how mundane it got. You know, what was always there was there, and I felt like there was no creative spark involved in that. And of course there is, but it’s not as visual; it’s very empirical–you know, how science is. So I transferred to Lawrence to maybe discover something new, and I went to this student film festival, and I just fell in love with film ever since.

TCJ: Are you involved in any other Twin Cities Organizations?

Alex: I do some volunteer work for the Twin Cities Film Festival, which I encourage anyone who wants to be involved in the local film scene to get involved with, because it’s a great way to meet local filmmakers. And it’s a great way to network with visiting filmmakers. It’s also a great learning experience, because they not only have a bunch of panels, but they also have a really good selection of films that they screen every year.

TCJ: What’s your favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?

Alex: My favorite way to celebrate Shabbat is with my family. Just being close to my family is how I’ve always best enjoyed the holiday.

TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Alex: When I was younger it was always Purim because I got to dress up. My gym teacher at Talmud Torah always dressed up like one of the other women suitors [to Ahasuerus, besides Esther], and it was hilarious and I always looked forward to seeing that every year. But I think as time goes on Rosh Hashanah has become my favorite. That or Passover, because I can spend it with family, many of whom I haven’t seen in a while.

TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Alex: Probably only because I love how it sounds: sufganiyot. I mean, when else do you ever get to say “sufganiyot?”

TCJ: Do you actually enjoy the taste of it? Or just how it sounds.

Alex: I mean, yeah. I like how it tastes. Yeah.

TCJ: OK. What’s–

Alex: Unless you count lox. I love lox and bagels. I don’t know if you count that as a Jewish food.

TCJ: Duh!

Alex: Alright, then lox!

TCJ: What’s your favorite thing to do in the Cities?

Alex: When it’s not winter, I love to go to the rooftop happy hours with friends. I like to go to the Sculpture Garden. I like to take a lot of photographs. I think there’s a lot of hidden beauty in Minnesota, so I like to take my camera and go around looking for things that catch my eye.

TCJ: Finally, give us one more reason why you’re folking awesome! 

Alex: I play drums! I do a lot of music videos, and recently I’ve been getting together with some of those bands and playing with them. I hadn’t played my drum kit in a few years, so it’s been fun!

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