Ty's List Digital Release!

Hello Ty’s List community,

It’s been quite some time since you’ve heard from us, but we have some very exciting news! Over the last year we secured an exclusive deal with an independent film distributor. Pursuing this opportunity was exciting and affirming! However, after negotiating our vision for how the film should be released, we have chosen to take our distribution strategy in a different direction.

Our purpose in making Ty’s List was to honor Ty’s legacy by inspiring people to live their own lives to the fullest. We have always believed that the film should be accessible to the widest audience possible and have never made gaining profit from the film a priority. In addition, as filmmakers we feel special ownership over our work and could not compromise our rights to the film. To these ends, we have decided to walk away from our distribution deal.

Instead, we will be releasing Ty’s List online on Christmas Day for viewing by anyone FOR FREE! We think this is how Ty would’ve wanted it anyway ;)

The film will be available for viewing on December 25, 2016 on our website at www.tyslist-themovie.com

It’s been a long road, and we couldn’t be more excited to make the film available to the public. Now that we have made the decision to self-distribute the film, YOU all are our platform for spreading the film as far as it can go! We would love for you to help us spread Ty’s message by watching the film and sharing it with others. Tell your friends! Family! Co-workers! Online message boards! Shout it in the street!

Thank you for believing in the film and being part of the ride. Life is good!

- Jesse and Ben

A Trip to the Beloit International Film Festival!

After a relatively quiet fall and winter for Ty’s List, we’ve got some exciting updates! This past week, Jesse took the film back to his hometown of Beloit, Wisconsin where the film screened at the Beloit International Film Festival, followed by a Q&A with Jesse. The screening sold out to an audience of festival attendees. friends, family, and old teachers and ended in a standing ovation! BIFF is in its 11th year and has recently partnered with the Hollywood Film Festival, resulting in a dramatic improvement in the caliber of films at the fest. Some of the other awesome films at the fest include Among the Believers, a documentary chronicling the rise of radical Islam in Pakistan directed by Academy Award winning documentary editor Hemal Trivedi, and Fools, a narrative feature love story, directed by fellow Northwestern graduate Benjamin Meyer. We are honored to be a part of BIFF and excited for the Awards Ceremony this Saturday night, where Jesse’s brother Josh (who worked as a Production Assistant during the filming in San Francisco) will be standing by in case we win an award!

Jesse even ended up on the front page of the Beloit Daily News!

Jesse even ended up on the front page of the Beloit Daily News!

Although Jesse had to head back to Jackson, Wyoming and will not be in attendance for the other screenings, there are two additional screenings at BIFF on Thursday, Feb 25 at 7:30pm at the Hendrick’s Art Center and on Sunday, Feb 28 at 2:30pm at La Casa Grande. You can snag tickets for those screenings here: http://beloitfilmfest.org/films/tys-list/

2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Ty’s List. Be on the lookout for more exciting announcements as we continue to work to get the film out to the world! 

Until next time, life is good! 

Jesse, Ben, and the Ty’s List Crew

We've found Sales Representation!

We're so excited to announce that Ty's List is now officially represented by Circus Road Films. We will be working together to pitch Ty's List to a wide array of distributors, hopefully finding a home and a wider audience for the film. Learn more about Circus Road films here. Make sure to check out the bio for CEO Glen Reynolds (industry veteran) and his partner Alex Nohe (our delightful main contact person).

Whats new with Ty's List?

Momentum with Ty's List is still building! We've been hard at work formulating, executing and perfecting our film festival strategy. Though we are very excited about getting this documentary into festivals, we are also thinking about a broader distribution plan. So many people have told us that our film helped them during a tough time, whether they had lost a loved one or had lost perspective on what makes life so much fun.  

Just know we are hard at work finding the right venue, with the right audience, so we can continue to use Ty's List as a way to inspire others!

-Ben Prawer and Jesse Swedlund


Color-correction, film fests, Kickstarter and more!

We are pleased to announce that we have FINALLY received the final color-corrected version of the film. In filmmaker terms, this means that Ty's List is 100% done! The past few months have been a whirlwind of applying to some pretty awesome festivals. Please cross your fingers for us!

Candidly, there has also been a some down time after 6 months of non-stop editing. Though, the crew is very much in the game and excited to continue promoting the film and getting it in front of people.  Please stay tuned for more information on screenings.

Also if you donated to our most recent Kickstarter campaign, you can expect rewards to be sent out in the next couple of weeks. GET PUMPED!

Lastly, please read this beautiful essay by one of Tyler’s friends, Carolyn Highland.  

Life is good,

Ben, Jesse and the Ty’s List Crew

Tyler with his PWild campers on Northwestern's lakefront

Tyler with his PWild campers on Northwestern's lakefront

We finished editing! Whats next for Ty's List?

Hi everyone! It’s been a month packed with last minute editing, fundraising and publicity for Ty’s List. We are thrilled to update you on how the film has been expanding!

Jesse Swedlund and Ben Prawer answering questions after the intimate private screening at the Logan Theatre in Chicago for friends and family.

Jesse Swedlund and Ben Prawer answering questions after the intimate private screening at the Logan Theatre in Chicago for friends and family.

The best place to start is the film itself: we’ve completed it! After several years of work, Ty’s List is picture-locked and once we finish coloring and titles, it will be ready to be shown to the public . We were able to preview the film for friends and family a few weeks ago, first at Northwestern University and then at the Logan Theater in Chicago. Both viewings earned a positive reception for which we are so grateful. 

Fun right?

Fun right?

But we don’t want Ty’s List and its message to end with these crowds, which is why we are now devoting our time to looking for distribution and entering film festivals. If you have suggestions or connections, we would love to hear about them. You can contact us here!

Christina Powers (fan), Melissa Sobin (the Ty's List Web Designer), Andrew Wales (featured on the Ty's List Soundtrack) and Becky Chan (one of the subjects of the film) grinning ear to ear after seeing a preview of the doc!

Christina Powers (fan), Melissa Sobin (the Ty's List Web Designer), Andrew Wales (featured on the Ty's List Soundtrack) and Becky Chan (one of the subjects of the film) grinning ear to ear after seeing a preview of the doc!

As we move in the direction of widening the film’s reach, we are honored to have been featured in Expedia’s Find Your Closure campaign.  Please check out our promo video below and our Expedia blog post here

In addition to Expedia, we have had two features on the radio—one on WGN Chicago with Steve Cochran, and another on a station in Victoria, Canada. The WGN interview can be heard here

And perhaps most excitingly of all, between incredible support from our screenings and our publicity and marketing, we were able to meet our base Kickstarter goal of $7,000! The whole team is so touched by your generous support and genuine belief in our documentary. We promise your money is taking us a long way. That being said, the more money we can gather, the greater chance Ty’s List has of being seen by distributors who can bring the film to a much larger audience. So although we have reached our goal of $7,000, we still tremendously appreciate any further donations.

We know this is a long blog post, but it is because we are so excited to have these updates to share with you. None this journey would not have been possible without our encouraging and passionate fan base.

So here’s to you, Ty’s List advocates—thank you for the hours, efforts, and resources you have put into making each and every day more fun.


das'lala (our amazing artist friends ) put together a "What did you do today that was fun?" art installation for the Chicago screening!

das'lala (our amazing artist friends ) put together a "What did you do today that was fun?" art installation for the Chicago screening!

Spring is bringing good things for Ty's List!

Happy spring, Ty’s List supporters! As we are welcoming warmer weather in Chicago, progress for Ty’s List is also heating up! Read on for all the ways our project has evolved in the past two months.

We Found a Home! 

Next Door Café, a coffee shop turned collaborative work environment owned by State Farm, has graciously granted us the position as their “project in residence.” This means we have our own, work station. Which is especially important now because… 

We Got Interns! 

Dulcinee and Emma, both current students at Northwestern, have joined the Ty’s List team and have already been of tremendous help to us. Emma has been working to find and license music, while Dulcinee is gathering information on film festivals. Though for now we’re still in the researching phase, we are getting closer to picture locking, bringing us to… 

Our Latest Cut 

We are confident that the latest version of Ty’s List is the best yet. We recently had a screening at the Next Door Café and received some great feedback that we are going to incorporate as we finish up the movie. The animation portion is now set and we’re starting to wind down the editing process. We’ll be picture-locked in just a couple weeks (that’s fancy talk for done editing).  

We Want YOU 

Being first time documentarians, everything we know we have learned from reaching out to local filmmakers and experts. If you would like to be a part of this expanding and exciting project, please contact us. We appreciate any help, whether it’s tips on film festivals or ideas for spreading the word on our project. 

Thank you so much for reading and we hope you have an adventurous and fulfilling day. 

Happy New Year Ty’s List supporters!

We are so grateful to have you for the start of 2014. We promise this year will be an exciting one for all of us. Ty’s List will be completed and sent to film festivals this May—and we have you to thank! We still have a ways to go and have started fundraising again (read the last paragraph if you're interested in helping out.) Updates below!


Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 4.03.23 PM.png

Roland Smith (our Director of Photography, Producer and one of our Editors) just pushed out another cut of the film, and we’re REALLY happy with it.  We can see final product ahead of us, and with the right work ethic and focus, we’re confident that we can deliver a final product sooner than later.


To help us along, we’ve been working everyday at Next Door Cafe in Lakeview, Chicago.  We’ll have an official announcement about this soon!


Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 4.02.35 PM.png

All the credit goes to Melissa Sobin for completely revamping our website, which is also home to our new Ty’s List teaser! Check it out: www.tyslist-themovie.com


We are days away from hiring a new animator for the film. We are so excited to bring on a talented artist to help tell the Ty’s List story in a fun and clear way.


We have been in talks with some awesome people and there may be an opportunity to take a lot of the themes and ideas expressed in Ty’s List to a wider audience.  Stay tuned folks….


We have relied heavily on the financial support of our community members to get to this point and we could not be more thankful. We are currently at a point in post-production where we will need additional funds in order to complete the project. We can see the finish line, but need your help to get to the end! If you would like to donate to the film here are a couple ways to do it:

Go to our website and click on the donate tab to donate online!

Or, if you’d like to donate $250 or more, you can receive a tax deduction by donating through our not-for-profit fiscal sponsor, Chicago Voyagers by making a check out to Chicago Voyagers, writing “Ty’s List” in the memo, and sending it here:

Chicago Voyagers // 318 N Elmwood Ln // Palatine, IL 60067

If you’re making a tax-deductible donation, feel free to let us so we can know to expect your contribution!

THANK YOU SO MUCH! Life is good!

Ben, Jesse and the rest of the Ty’s List team.


Summer Update!

Hello Everyone,

Yet again, a long time has passed since our last update, but that means we have a lot to say!


Along with working on the film, I (Jesse/JDogg/Chiefy/JJ Maverick/Tojo Jesseopolis the Bengal Warrior King) had a great summer working for Chicago Voyagers, a local non-profit that brings at risk teens out of the city and into the woods, for learning and growth through experiential education in a natural setting. They also happen to be our fiscal sponsor for the film, so it’s kind of full circle, ya know? Ben has been living in Chicago working for AJAX Workforce Marketing and besides working on the movie, attended Burning Man Arts Festival in the desert of Nevada. Whoa dude.


But enough about us, Ty’s List is why you’re really here. The film has made serious progress this summer. First off, we found a new editor! Ursula Ellis, a recent Northwestern Grad and current Columbia University Film grad student, has brought amazing editing talent and a set of fresh eyes that was sorely needed. We finished a second cut of the film and are painstakingly close to finishing a third cut. It’s been an incredibly exciting process as we narrow our focus, bring out certain themes, craft the story, and carry on Ty’s spirit. 


(Isn’t Ursula awesome? We dig her.)


We have produced a video for Expedia to be released online as part of their Find Yours Campaign. We’re super excited about it and we think it has major potential to spread our message and generate a lot of buzz for the film. Look out for the official release soon! In conjunction with the video release, we will be launching a beautiful new website! 



Our Musical Director, Josh Brechner has been hard at work securing licensed music from amazing independent musicians. Bands who have committed with contracts include Levi RobinRin Tin Tiger, and Christine Hoberg! Check them out!



We have decided to include a short animation in the film and we’re pretty giddy about it. It’s almost like creating a whole other short film within our feature, so it’s exciting, but also going to be a lot of work. We’re had the pleasure of courting some awesome Northwestern editors, but if you know of any good ones, we’re always looking for more collaborators!

We have reevaluated our budget and determined that we need to launch another fundraising campaign to finish the film. There are many additional costs that really add up…such as errors and omissions insurance, festival fees, animation, sound editing, titling, subtitling, color correction, and more. The campaign will officially begin with the release of the Expedia Commercial and the launch of the new website, but if you’re interested in donating now, please visit our website or contact us for more information.


Thanks for reading! Look out for more updates as things continue to roll along. Remember to take time to tell people that you love and appreciate them! Be well.

Life is good!

- Jesse and Ben  

Spring Update!


Greetings from Chicago where we have been working tirelessly on Ty’s List. There is a whole lot to update you on, but first let me apologize for the lack of communication between our team and all of our awesome followers (you guys!).  We’ve spent the last 3 months working with our editor making a rough cut. Yep you heard us correctly—we now have a rough draft of the movie! It’s a 90 minute movie with a beginning, middle and end.  


1) We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to show our draft to the talented editors, producers and directors at Kartemquin Films, Chicago’s premier documentary film production company.  In the audience was legendary filmmaker Gordon Quinn, who was there just to give us feedback.  How cool is that?

The good news…We’re well on our way to finishing this film. We got a lot of interesting and valuable feedback on how we can make this film better and more relevant to people who didn’t know Tyler. Since we want this movie to not only be a memorial of Tyler for the people who knew him, but also an introduction to Tyler and his life philosophy for strangers all over the world.

2) We were invited to go to the Big Apple to present Ty’s List to a group of active Northwestern Alumni. Generous Wildcats sponsored our trip out East, and we gave a speech on Ty’s List—from explaining it’s origins to giving the audience a sneak peak of the Expedia video. It went super well and we are happy to have NU behind our project. image

3) We’d like to give a special thanks to RIPS Licorice for keeping our crew’s sweet tooth satisfied.  We ate so many RIPS on the trip that they decided to send us a box so we could keep enjoying. Woohoo!


(something we’ve learned to expect during the journey toward a good product!)

1) Angela, our amazing editor, got a really cool opportunity to produce a television show for PBS Chicago.  We are very happy for her and wish her the best of luck, but now we need someone to take her place. If you know any good editors in the Chicago area, let us know!

2) We are so lucky to have raised money from our Kickstarter, get a sponsorship with Expedia and have many generous people help pave the way to making this film.  As it turns out, post-production is expensive, and with our new direction it looks like we will have to do another round of fundraising to pay for the next draft. Hopefully the Expedia video will help after it’s released, and we’re currently brainstorming other avenues. We don’t plan on doing another Kickstarter though. We want to reach a new market of donors and Ty’s List fans with this push. Stay tuned for updates and let us know if you have any ideas!

3) We’ve been slow to send out the rest of our Kickstarter rewards, but we PROMISE that Kickstarter rewards are going out soon. Keep your eyes on your mailboxes, and send any address updates to tyslist.themovie@gmail.com


Once we figure out our next steps, you’ll be the first to know about them! The plan for now is to finish the next draft and start to submit the film to festivals by the end of the summer.

We hope that May 13, the anniversary of Ty’s Passing, was a peaceful day of remembrance for all. Also we hope that many of you participated in CommuniTyler on May 18.

Life is good,


Ben, Jesse and the rest of the Ty’s List Crew.

Winter update!

Hello friends, family, loyal fans, supporters, and champions,

It’s looong time since we last posted and we figured it’s about time for an update! Last we left you, we were beginning post-production. Well, now we’re knee deep in it! Editing a documentary is a huge undertaking; the story lives within the footage and it’s our job to coax it out.  With over 70 hours of footage though, it’s like hunting for one rare stone among piles of rubble (very well shot and interesting rubble though!).
*****The Abbey Road of Ty’s List!*******
That’s where our editor, Angela comes in! Over the past couple months, we’ve been working with her to really hone the story down and have begun editing scenes. Typically, we meet with her once a week to go over scenes she’s edited as well as give her direction on the next scenes she’ll be tackling. We expect to have a rough cut by the end of March/early April! Here’s a blog post that she wrote after beginning the project, we found it very inspirational! http://bellevivant.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/life-in-the-moments/#more-1087

In addition to editing the feature-length film, we’ve been working on a short piece for the travel agency Expedia. Expedia paid for everyone’s flight and also helped sponsor the film’s travel expenses, and in return we’re taking part in their “Find Yours” campaign! It’s very exciting for us because Expedia has a huge social media presence, which will really generate some buzz for the film. Here’s their campaign anthem:
Along with a short video that ours will be similar to:
Look out for ours soon!

Also, Ben and I have been invited to present our project at a Northwestern Alumni Association event in New York City! Each year they select graduates or students who are doing something noteworthy and have them speak. This year, they chose Ty’s List! We’re so grateful for the opportunity and cannot wait to show people a small bit of what we’ve put together!

Lastly, the merchandise finally came in! That means Kickstarter rewards are finally set to be sent out! Look for them shortly, they’ll be in the mail soon!  

Life is good!

Jesse and Ben

Reflections on the Past Month

The last 31 days have been an incredible adventure. Over the last month, we’ve met some amazing people, had experiences we’ll never forget, learned so much about Tyler’s life, and put in hundreds of hours of work and hundreds of hours of play. Starting with the week-long trip in San Francisco, we saw three people who loved Tyler come together to spend a week going on adventures, learning about Ty, and learning about each other. Steve, Doug, and Becky are truly incredible people and we feel privileged to have gotten to know them, hear their stories and insights, and to see parts of Ty they carry with them shining through in each of their lives.

Behind the scenes, something else happened. As a production crew, we grew into a tight knit family. Somewhere between spending a week living in the same house, going through the highs and lows of production, eating together, and hanging out during downtime, special friendships were formed. We’re very proud of everything everyone contributed and the quality of work that came out of it. Thanks guys!

Since filming, we’ve done some adventuring ourselves! We spent another week exploring San Francisco, then visited Ben’s home in New Jersey, visited New York, drove to Boston, hung out in Vermont, and road-tripped back to the Midwest. It’s been a chaotic whirlwind of traveling (sorry it’s been so long since an update!) but we’re finally back, settled down and ready to take on the next phase of our project: post-production.

We still have a long way to go, but we’re so happy with what we got in San Francisco and so thankful to the many people who helped us and continue to lend their support as we continue in our endeavor. Looking forward to keeping you all updated! Life is Good!

- Jesse and Ben

Hey all,

Sorry we haven’t had more blog posts for you to snack on other than Jesse’s beautiful selfie, but we’ve just been so swamped with filmmaking there just hasn’t been any time.  Finally, on this beautiful Saturday afternoon in Mill Valley I’ve finally had a quiet moment to share our adventures with y’all.  Now I won’t go through the trouble of explaining what all we’ve been doing these past—I’ll just let the pictures talk for themselves.  One thing that’s for sure is that the subjects have really opened themselves up for adventures and meeting new people, and some of the most beautiful moments of the week have occured in the past couple of days.  We are all feeling really happy and grateful for how things are going, and we’re sad that it’s almost over!  Alas, the photos.


Hola folks,

Yesterday the participants had a fun filled day of exploring the various neighborhoods of San Francisco.  Becky, Doug, and Steve started out by getting coffee in the Mission, historically a Latin-American neighborhood with world famous murals everywhere you look.  Next they made their way over to Chinatown where they had lunch at the Empress of China restaurant and explored the various Chinese stores and markets along Grant.  The cast had a quick interview with the director and producer at the base of the Transamerica Pyramid before heading over to Coit Tower.  Next came a quick Pier 39 boat ride around Alcatraz, and lastly we ended our day with dinner at Chilango, a new restaurant in the Castro neighborhood, where Lauren, Ty’s sister, joined us!  Afterwards cast and crew alike came back to the house and dozed off after a long day.

Hey there folks!

The Ty’s List crew has just finished up it’s first full day of shooting, and wow what a great day it has been.  We had a bit of a slow start getting out the door this morning, but after figuring out our routine we had a great day documenting Steve, Doug, and Becky as they embarked on their adventure around San Francisco.  Even in this first day, the crew has laid witness to many poignant moments, thoughtful reflections, and hearty laughs.  And things can only get better from here!  Be sure to check back soon— more updates to come!


The Crew

Over the past couple of days the Ty’s List crew has been hard at work getting ready for the upcoming week of shooting in Mill Valley, CA.  On Friday, production assistants Matt McDonald and Josh Swedlund joined the crew and were immediately swept up into the hustle and bustle of film production, running errands, doing odd jobs around the area, and getting familiar with the rest of the crew.  Over the past two nights, the entire crew has been treated to two delicious home cooked meals by families in Marin.  On Friday night we were hosted by the Littman family, and on Saturday night by the McKinney’s.  This project could not have made it this far without the kindness of strangers, and the past two nights have proven testaments to the positivity, graciousness, and community that Ty still inspires today.  The crew has now moved out of the motel and into the Mill Valley bungalow which the cast and crew will come to know as home base for the coming week.  

In just a couple of hours Steve Roscher, trip participant, will touch down in San Francisco and from that moment on Ty’s List The Movie will have officially begun!  Be sure to check back here for more update videos, photos, and blog posts throughout the coming week.  Life is good!