Katie Brugger and Arthur Hancock set out to capture Asheville on video, and a funny thing happened along the way.
The couple created the DVD The Spirit of Asheville, which they filmed over the course of a year. And they fell in love — with Asheville.
"We're planning on moving there in December," Hancock says.
That will be a big move for Brugger and Hancock, who have been living in Highlands for 20 years. For the last 12, the couple has been producing nature videos. They own the independent video production company Time Capsule Video, and they've produced everything from a North Carolina mountain DVD series to a weekly magazine-format cable television show about Highlands called Heart of High Country.
Nearly two years ago, Brugger and Hancock were talking to the manager of the gift shop at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. The shop had been playing their nature videos on a big plasma television in the shop, and the manager mentioned that visitors were often asking to buy a DVD about Asheville, but there wasn't one for sale. The idea for the video was born on the spot, Brugger says.
The couple set out to create what Hancock says would have been a typical "commercial video" with standard shots and a soundtrack. But the more Brugger and Hancock got to know Asheville, the more they decided to try something different.
"We decided the soundtrack for the DVD would just be people talking about what they like about Asheville," Hancock says.
After shooting hours upon hours of architectural features, people on the street and events like the weekly drum circle, the two edited the footage down to a 73-minute video that they believe captures the essence of the eclectic city.
"We just love people so much, and we think everybody has a story," Hancock says. "When we're on a project like this, if it works for us, we include it and it's hard to cut it off."
Brugger says she and Hancock are passionate about art and philosophy, which she says comes through in the video.
"Everybody is beautiful and everything is beautiful," Brugger says, encapsulating their approach. And in terms of finding the spirit of the city, both Brugger and Hancock say it's epitomized in the Friday-night drum circles held in Pritchard Park.
"There's an aura of acceptance and open-mindedness that's so missing" in other places, Hancock says. Brugger quickly adds, "That's what I love about Asheville — it's challenging, it's exciting."
Go to www.spiritofasheville to watch a clip from the movie, which is on sale at Amazon.com for $19.95 and available at several area stores, including Malaprop's bookstore, The Compleat Naturalist in Biltmore Village and the chamber's visitor center.