Faces of SAL Partners: Ann Hedreen and Rustin Thompson of White Noise Productions
August 10, 2021
Many local partners support SAL’s programs and operation. In responding to the changing and uncertain conditions of the pandemic, we’ve relied on some of our partners even more than usual.
To celebrate our longtime relationship with Ann Hedreen and Rustin Thompson, owners of White Noise Productions who produce our video content—including the pre-recorded events from our 2020/21 Season, a first for SAL—we sat down with them to talk about books (naturally!), what’s inspiring them this summer, and other creative endeavors keeping them busy.
What are you reading now, or what books have you recently enjoyed?
Rustin: I’m reading Rock Me on the Water: 1974-The Year Los Angeles Transformed Movies, Music, Television, and Politics by Ronald Brownstein. I recently finished Joe Wilkins’ poetic memoir, The Mountain and the Fathers: Growing Up in The Big Dry.
Ann: I’m reading One Long River of Song: Notes on Wonder, a collection of vivid, poignant essays by the late Brian Doyle. I recently finished Four Souls by Louise Erdrich and Fall Back Down When I Die by Joe Wilkins. Rustin and I went on a long road trip in June, and I wanted to immerse myself in books set in Minnesota (Erdrich) and the prairie side of Montana (Wilkins).
What projects are you working on currently?
Rustin: I’m the cinematographer and editor on a feature documentary, Died Without Issue, that a friend is making set on Sapelo Island off the Georgia coast.
Ann: I’ve been teaching more than I usually do: Intro to Memoir Writing at Seattle Central College; several short classes at Hugo House; and a writing workshop at Wesley U, the Wesley Homes’ lively lifelong learning program, where many of my students are in their eighties and nineties. Wow, do they have stories to tell! My current writing focus is essays, including one called “Regeneration,” which was published in About Place Journal.
What did you learn about SAL during our online year?
Rustin: I learned to put aside my skepticism about this thing called Zoom and realize that SAL quickly adapted to bring in a greater range of writers and viewers. It was very impressive to see how the whole staff got to work during a very challenging and scary time to expand their mission.
Ann: Like Rustin, I was awed by how quickly SAL figured out how to continue fulfilling its mission during the pandemic, and also by how rich and intimate the experience of attending an online SAL event could be.
What was a favorite SAL program that you worked on, and what did you enjoy about it?
Rustin: I edited their pre-recorded online events, and enjoyed the inside look into Luis Alberto Urrea’s studio, hearing Maggie Smith’s wise and calming poetry, and nodding in agreement with Lawrence Wright’s admission that he always wrote with a big fat thesaurus nearby.
Ann: A highlight for me was interviewing WITS writers, students, and classroom teachers. Their love of writing and their dedication to making WITS work during the pandemic was so uplifting.
How do you recharge creatively? Do you have favorite rituals or practices?
Rustin: I watch a lot of films, from classic cinema to foreign masterpieces to under-seen new works. I like to sit outside in the very early morning and read while listening to quiet ambient music. Ann and I also like to hike, and then reward ourselves with a few ice-cold beers consumed next to a lovely, babbling river.
Ann: There’s nothing better than reading in the morning. Except maybe walking any time of day.
Outside of your work with SAL, are there any recent projects that you’re excited to share?
Rustin: Since 2003, I’ve been the deejay and producer for my weekly Americana roots radio show on KBCS.FM called Road Songs (named for the late, great poet of the road, Townes Van Zandt). I’m also submitting my own documentary, Slow Revolution, to film festivals.
Ann: One of my pandemic projects was to record an audiobook version of my memoir, Her Beautiful Brain. It’s available on all the usual audio platforms, which thrills me!
Thank you, Ann and Rustin, for your continued partnership and creativity!