Tyler Aug’s latest film, "The Crows," takes a close look at this town’s crow problem -- and the many, many ways we’ve tried to solve it. Aug began filming in 2013, after a Rochester area hunting group held a crow-killing contest, and "slowly picked at it throughout the years."

One thing is certain -- the mockumentary is a Rochester original, with most of the filming done in town (supplemented with a few borrowed, short clips from elsewhere). Aug worked with Mike Terrill from Fires of Denmarkon an original soundtrack, and it’ll be shown at Gray Duck Theater, Rochester’s indie microcinema.

The cast list is also entirely local -- real-life Rochester "celebrities" include Stephanie Hatzenbihler, Rochester’s environmental education specialist, artist Mary Magyar, and regular 507 contributors John Sievers and John Molseed.

There are also a few staged characters, which pitch the film into "satirical mockumentary" territory -- but the events discussed and poop ecology information from Hatzenbihler are legit.

So far, there is only one public showing of "The Crows" planned -- but Aug plans to continue working on the piece, hopefully showing it again or expanding the runtime.

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"It's very Rochester centric, and might just be relevant for a long time anyways," he said.

We caught up with Aug on his inspiration, message, and Rochester’s endless poop problems.

Answers have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Why did you begin work on this mockumentary in 2013?

{{tncms-inline alignment="right" content="<p>In 2013, KTTC ran a piece (now no longer on their website) on a hunters’ group named <a href="https://www.facebook.com/X-treme-Whitetails-MN-212817878770560/?ref=br_rs" target="_blank">X-Treme Whitetails MN</a>, which held annual crow hunts from 2012 to 2015. In 2016, the X-Treme Whitetails page posted that the annual hunt would be rescheduled from the spring to the fall -- but if it is ongoing, there have been no more posts to the group’s public Facebook page. The group was not reachable via the phone or email on their Facebook page.</p> <p>Rochester Park and Forestry Division Head Mike Nigbur confirmed that the city was not involved in the crow hunts. The city has used <a href="https://www.postbulletin.com/news/local/city-to-start-crow-scattering-next-week/article_84b64522-5e54-5854-aec2-d6b47ee206e4.html" target="_blank">non-lethal tactics</a> like lasers and lights, recorded hawk and crow calls, starter pistols, and plastic pellets from Airsoft rifles to try to startle the crows away from downtown areas.</p>" id="95864bf2-dafb-44bc-be11-2b6bacb70138" style-type="info" title="What crow-killing contest?" type="relcontent" width="half"}}

"The Crows" opens with a recollection of the day the crows were murdered in large numbers, and then proceeds to tell the story of why the crows are in Rochester, their effect on people, the people's reaction, and the endless array of interesting facts pertaining to the crows themselves, closing on alternatives to the killing solution. The entire piece is a socio-political satire approach to talking about ecology and environment when it comes to sharing land with large groups of bird populations, and the poop problems that come with that. ...

I was living in the Kutzky neighborhood and getting pooped on all the time walking home at night, so the idea was to see how far I could push the subject of crows. The idea of a full-length documentary (even though I'm only at an hour) has been my largest single undertaking thus far in my career on one subject. As I was slowly collecting footage and ideas, the documentary started serving its own content when real life was catching up with the story and the shooting of the actual documentary.

What do you hope your viewers get from this film?

I hope people see the importance of treating other life forms as they would humans. All the short crow documentaries out there are pretty dry, so I'm hoping this will create a humorous spin on the matter, and be universal in a sense for other communities dealing with the same problem, and figuring out a solution that isn't so "warlike". There are a lot of parallels to be drawn there, and that might also be the point of reflecting on human behavior. The documentary may seem misanthropic, but there is hope, at least for the crows. How do we look at nature and how do we look at our nature in that system we've moved away from? It's an environmentalist take on a situation that has many opinions and tax-financed incentives to deal with, so how do we reflect on that, or talk about it in a way that is not so toxic to the reputation of a species, and to really establish the reputation a species like the crows should have?

As a video-maker, I'm always trying to see Rochester through a different lens all the time and continue to be inspired by a backdrop that is part of everyday life. "The Crows" is a way of bringing out a group in this town that doesn't have a voice and put them in the spotlight, and yell(ing), "Hey! These crows are just like us and if they are going to live with us, they need to be treated as an equal!" As should all people…

How helpful were the crows during filming?

The Crows were extremely cooperative! They were always available based on their evening routines, and ever-present in parks, dumpsters, and all over the sidewalks. Didn't even have to pay for craft services! The city of Rochester and surrounding fields had that covered.

What: "The Crows" screening

When: 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7

Where: Gray Duck Theater & Coffeehouse, 619 6th Ave. NW, Rochester

Cost: $8, grayducktheater.com

Edit: The Nov. 7 showing sold out the day before, but you can catch a second screening on Nov. 19!

In 2013, KTTC ran a piece (now no longer on their website) on a hunters’ group named X-Treme Whitetails MN, which held annual crow hunts from 2012 to 2015. In 2016, the X-Treme Whitetails page posted that the annual hunt would be rescheduled from the spring to the fall -- but if it is ongoing, there have been no more posts to the group’s public Facebook page. The group was not reachable via the phone or email on their Facebook page.

Rochester Park and Forestry Division Head Mike Nigbur confirmed that the city was not involved in the crow hunts. The city has used non-lethal tacticslike lasers and lights, recorded hawk and crow calls, starter pistols, and plastic pellets from Airsoft rifles to try to startle the crows away from downtown areas.