M&M produces memorable digital collaborations

Ryan Winn

Madona and Melissa Wilber are metāēqsak owētekāēhkohtowak — which in English means “twin sisters.” Together, the Menominee tribal members created M&M Digital Media Productions, working side-by-side on projects for the communities they serve.

Melissa told me, “We specialize in the production of digital media online distribution and marketing campaigns. We also film weddings and create videos for anyone wanting help with their event or special day.”

Madona added, “The most important thing about our company is that we are driven to provide both tribal and the surrounding communities with quality videos. We want to be able to work one-on-one with organizations and individuals to help create lasting memories through digital media projects.”

Their business emerged from the sisters’ lifelong passion. As kids, they would create and edit content with Windows Movie Maker. The Wilbers brought their skillset to College of Menominee Nation, always looking for ways to add media products to their coursework submissions.

Melissa elaborated upon their rationale,

“CMN taught us all about reciprocity and, for us, we want to give back and inspire others that if we can do this, so can they.” She emphasized, “Your dreams are never too big, and education is key.”

The practice of reciprocity is a family value the sisters embody. Their father, Donald Conn, taught math in the tribal school district until his retirement.

“He dedicated his life to teaching and taught us the importance of education — always inspiring and gently pushing us in the right direction throughout our educational journeys,” Madona said.

While at CMN, Melissa earned a videographer internship funded through a grant from NASA, which led to her working with six other tribal colleges that focused on climate change issues. PBS edited the final version for airing, and the group’s collective footage lit up screens in over 60,000 middle and high school classrooms across the United States. That project propelled Melissa along the path of professional filmmaking.

“We started M&M in May, and without the help of our friends from the College of Menominee Nation, as well as many others just helping and guiding us down this path, I do not think we would be where we are,” Melissa said. “From the oral communication class that I still to this day look back on and always ‘project’ my voice when public speaking and just relax, or from the amazing internships that we got to experience. Education is vital for your pathway to success.”

Madona agreed. “Our education gave us the confidence we have today. That helped us start our own business.”

Although their company is only a few months old, M&M is already resonating in Wisconsin communities. In June, they produced a video for the Menominee Nation Lumberjack Championships, which offers viewers a chance to relive the action of the popular event held on Main Street during the 2022 Shawano SunDrop Dayz festival. This month, they released a video on elder and youth initiatives for the Great Lake Intertribal Council, with a few more projects slated for the near future.

When asked, the sisters credited the key to their success as establishing working roles that play to their individual strengths. Melissa manages the team, preferring to use her technical skills to edit their footage in post-production, while Madona takes the reins on directing and shooting their videography.

“Some might say working with family can be problematic, but for us, being twin sisters really helps our dynamic,” Melissa said. “We look out for each other and want the best for each other, so we put our business first. We both understand this, and it really helps. It’s just really fun to be able to work with my best friend.”

Madona concurred, adding: “Our goal for our company is to assist others as well as create films that educate and inspire change. These topics range from MMIW (missing and murdered Indigenous women), environmental issues, women’s rights, voting rights, etc. We also work part-time as administrative assistants for the American Civil Liberties Union, which also helps fuel our passion.”

While the videos they create attest to their talent, the passion the Wilber sisters bring to their work conveys the reason behind their attention to detail.

“It’s all about collaborating with our clients to bring their vision to life,” Melissa said.

There it is again — collaboration. That concept is the reason that M&M Digital Media Productions is thriving, but for the metāēqsak owētekāēhkohtowak it’s also the key to their lifelong success.

Through their business, the Wilber sisters are willing to share their gifts with you.

Ryan Winn teaches communication, English and theater at College of Menominee Nation. For information about the school, visit www.menominee.edu.