A musician, struggling to cope with his split from his lover and muse, begins to suspect that his past is being erased in this unnerving film starring members of Chicago-based band Paper Thick Walls. As music and mementos from his former relationship disappear and mutual friends deny that they know him, the musician hits the road on a desperate journey to prove to himself and everyone else that he's not insane—that the memories he holds are real.


We Grew Up Here is an independent feature film funded by the generosity of Kickstarter backers and created by a supportive filmmaking community. The film was shot throughout Chicago and Indiana in the summer of 2012. It was created by 15 in the Dark Collab, a filmmaking collective based in Chicago that is composed of like- minded artists who value compelling narratives and creative challenges.

The primary collaborators on We Grew Up Here include Writer/Director Kevin Pickman, Writer/Producer Stefeni Tormanen, and Writer/Producer A.C. Neel.

15 in the Dark

15 in the Dark Collab is a Chicago-based filmmaking collective made up of artists who were fed up with whining about never finishing a project so they formed a support group of sorts. It's not a group to gather just to discuss; instead it is a group designed for people to come together and actually make something.

As members of 15 in the Dark, our goal is to tell great stories. We’re together to remind each other to keep that idea in the crosshairs, always being mindful of our budget, but never letting that deter our endgame. There are few things more rewarding than working with a collection of people who bring their own attributes to the table and continue to excite, challenge, and inspire one another.

Making We Grew Up Here

15 in the Dark members Kevin Pickman, Stefeni Tormanen and A.C. Neel met through the Chicago filmmaking community and were unified around the ambitious idea of making a movie about a town that disappeared. They all come from small towns and wanted to make a film that explored the reality they've witnessed when local job opportunities and independently owned businesses vanish over time.

As friends of 15 in the Dark, Eric Michaels and Kate Schell from Paper Thick Walls were natural casting choices to give We Grew Up Here its distinct personality as a film that uses musicians to illustrate the impermanence of memory and the transcendent-yet-transitory nature of art.

The We Grew Up Here team completed a successful Kickstarter campaign and had the film named Indiewire's Project of the Month in April 2012. After a summer of shooting and a few years of an involved post-production process, 15 in the Dark completed the film. We Grew Up Here is a testament to the contributions of dozens of individuals across multiple states that have given their time and talents to turn this concept into a concrete reality.

Eric Michaels (Liam)


Eric is an award-winning singer/songwriter with music placements in various films. With his band, Paper Thick Walls, he has played in over 65 cities across the U.S. and Canada, including notable festivals such as NXNE, SXSW, and CMJ.

As an actor, you can see Eric in commercials for companies such as Ford and Wendy's, as well as in multiple guest and starring roles in film, television, and music videos.