Thora Jansson

An ex-journalist turned filmmaker (turned monster slayer? ... !)


Virtue: Justice; Vice: Pride

Primary: Social, Secondary: Mental, Tertiary: Physical

Specialty skills: Investigation (interview), Politics (local), Expression (writing), Persuasion (fast-talk)

Merits: Inspiring, Contacts 3 (police, politicians, journalists), Resources 1


In August, 1977, Thora Jensson was born to a lovely upper-middle (or middle-upper) class family in the affluent, tree-lined suburb of Edina, Minnesota. Having excelled at debate and lettered in lacrosse, she left prestigious Edina High with a well-rounded educational resume, sufficient to earn her a place in the Political Science department at Carleton College in nearby Northfield. Blessed with inquisitiveness and natural communication skills, Thora gravitated toward journalism, and upon graduation, she headed for Chicago to pursue a graduate degree at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern.

Having completed her studies, she landed a job in the summer of 2000 on the city desk of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She had always intended to use the experience she gained working in a mid-sized market as a stepping stone to a larger, more prestigious paper, but by 2003, as she watched the “Strib” contracting around her, she grew concerned about her prospects in the industry. Her fears began to be confirmed as rumblings of an impending merger began stirring in the newsroom. In the fall of 2003, when her editor hinted that she might be shifted to the “women’s health beat,” (whatever that is), Thora figured the writing was on the wall, took advantage of the buyout offered to her, and left the newspaper.

While kicking around, wondering what to do with herself next, Thora got a call from Terry Spellman, a [high school friend? college friend? work contact?] of Thora’s who was working as a cinematographer on a low budget documentary film (Jack in the Concrete Box) about public housing in Minneapolis. A week before filming was scheduled to begin, their lead interviewer had left the project, and they needed an experienced journalist to take his place as the on-camera “talent.” Now, three years and five films later, Thora works as a freelance journalist and technical writer to pay the bills while she devotes most of her time to her new love, documentary filmmaking. Her communication skills and talent at interviewing make her a natural on camera. She’s particularly drawn to the challenge of undercover/investigative reporting that she’s tried her hand at on the group’s recent projects (such as last year’s From the Horse’s Mouth, when she posed as a carriage handler for four weeks as the group explored allegations of substandard conditions in the city’s hansom cab operations).

Motivations and beliefs, etc.

Although her political views lie on the far left of the spectrum, Thora is not militant about anything, really. She’s just the bleeding heart type, thus her attraction to subjects like animal rights and public housing conditions. You’d find no surprises in her positions on all the “hot topic” issues – pro-life, pro gay marriage, etc., and if they printed a card, she’d be a card-carrying athiest. If she had to pick a cause that’s nearest her heart, it would probably be press freedom issues – Reporters Without Borders, and all that stuff.

As for the day-to-day life – Thora lives in the artsy Uptown neighborhood in southwestern Minneapolis. She works from home for her day job, or on her laptop at Starbucks. She doesn’t keep regular hours because she doesn’t have to, so she only schedules meetings before 11 when she can’t avoid it. She gets around using public mostly, but she does have a ‘97 Camry that her parents bought (and mostly maintain) for her for when she needs to make grocery runs.

She doesn’t have a dude in her life right now. She had a scandalous May-December relationship with a professor of hers at Carleton that continued through her grad school year and was a bit on and off after that, and since then, she’s had a hard time seeing her generational peers as mature, romantically-speaking, especially since all the ones who WOULD be mature enough to have what she’d describe as an “adult relationship” got married in their twenties. So these days, she’s not opposed to a romp in the sack when the mood strikes, but nothing seems to work out beyond date number two or three. She’d describe the other members of the film crew as friends, but the only one she hangs out with much is Terry, who’s an old friend from… I forget (help me out, Rob, what did we decide?). She has been feeling closer to Joanna lately – female kinship, probably – so she can talk to her about guy stuff and whatnot. She also has some friends around from high school and college (normal, well-adjusted, pretty blah Minnesotans), but they’re mostly married with kids, so she doesn’t see them as much as she used to. And she’s got a couple of friends from the Star Tribune that are always good for a beer on a Friday, especially her pal “BJ” Godwin who was hired to the city desk around the same time as Thora, and is still sticking it out.

She makes movies with this crowd because these are the people she ended up with. Not coming from a film background means that she doesn’t really know many other industry types, and her connection with Munch is the only thing that got her involved in the first place. So it’s just kismet, I guess.

Thora Jansson

Hunter: Minneapolis dakis