Young Filmmaker Documents Beating the Odds in Rural Michigan in ‘Bad Axe’
David Siev set out to essentially make a home movie, capturing his family's struggle to survive the pandemic in the small town of Bad Axe. One thing led to another, and the young filmmaker turned the project into a documentary that is now being screened nationally.
Bad Axe is a town of roughly 3,000 people, right in the heart of Michigan's thumb in Huron County. David Siev's family runs Rachel's Bar and Grill, an Asian-American restaurant in Bad Axe. Like many restaurateurs in Michigan and throughout the United States, the Siev family faced many challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.
Where it All Began
Chun Siev is the family patriarch. He migrated to the United States from Cambodia in the late 1970s with only the clothes he was wearing. After a failed attempt at owning a donut shop, Chun and his wife Rachel opened Rachel's Bar and Grill.
In the video below, Jaclyn Siev says the restaurant business is an uphill climb and explains that it took the family nearly two decades to feel like Rachel's was successful. The pandemic changed everything in the first few months of 2020.
"Everything was so uncertain," David's older sister says. "Who would have thought that in the snap of a finger we'd be ordered to shut down the dining [area] - it's not like we had really done takeout before or anything."
Capturing it All on Video
According to Deadline Detroit, David Siev had been taking film classes in New York and had just gotten married when the pandemic began. He flew home to Michigan, thinking that he'd stay for a few weeks and capture what his family was experiencing on video.
Instead, David stayed for about a year and decided that his family's plight would make for an interesting documentary.
“It was in the editing room when I decided to make this a documentary,” David says. “There was so much rich footage of my family.”
His film 'Bad Axe' has been featured in film festivals such as South by Southwest and the Traverse City Film Festival. He's currently in the process of trying to make the film accessible to a mainstream, nationwide audience.