Private Project

The Cost of Being Different.

At age 52 commercial artist Steve Jerman left his home town of Salt Lake City, Utah. Despite producing designs that had become locally iconic, and being called an “All-around creative brain” in the local press, his career had gone steadily downhill since 9/11.

He’d endured divorce, estrangement, death, isolation, dislocation and a sometimes harsh, local community that did not see him clearly.

Neighboring Colorado had just legalized cannabis and Steve thought that might bring a special group of people to the state. It did. Over 100,000 made same decision with 10,000 people also landing in Denver that year. In less than two weeks he, and his best friend, his dog, Ruess, E. turned around.

They headed back to Utah, but not to the Mormon Mecca. Instead heading north to Logan, the earthy, artsy college town where he spent four happy years in the early 1980s. Settling into an “Pet-friendly Active Senior Community”, he gets reacquainted with old friends but discovered the “Top Party School” town of the 1970s and 1980s and had become considerably tamer.

Steve soldiers on to build a new life, slowly meeting people and discovering a supportive social circle in the historic agricultural valley. There he finds strangers were different. Residents didn’t have to gossip about each other (because they were at times sitting next to each other in one of the town’s two bars). These people were willing to give you considerably more than the time of day. And without big city distractions, he eventually comes to peace with the past.

This first person account was filmed, written and edited entirely by Jerman and combines documentary interviews with long-time local residents interspersed with his therapeutically motivated beer fueled, on-the-fly diary videos . An eclectic sound track features music by Jason Isbell, Django Rheinhardt, Jerry Joseph, Cab Calloway, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad,
Jeff Crosby & The Refugees, Mighty Dave, Trace Wiren, Andy Monaco, Lionfish, Todd Milovich and others.

Filmed over a two year period, it centers on quality of life issues, but also touches on personal relationships, being neurologically atypical and aging. In addition to local history, travel in the West, planet-friendly practices and creative fulfillment. Set in a stunning valley Jerman describes as “A beautiful place to be poor”.

  • Steve Jerman
  • Steve Jerman
  • Steve Jerman
  • Steve Jerman
    Key Cast
    Everett Ruess Wilderness Song, Nemo 1934, SLCC KRCL
  • Dennis Hinkamp
    Key Cast
  • Paul Rogers
    Key Cast
  • Temple Grandin
    Key Cast
    Temple Grandin
  • Lyndsay Jaeger
    Key Cast
    Everett Ruess Wilderness Song
  • Jason Isbell
  • Jerry Joseph
  • Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
  • Todd Milovich
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Indie, humor
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 22 minutes 57 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 25, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    625 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Steve Jerman

Steven Ralph “Steve” Jerman was born in 1962 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has had a life long interest in art and received a bachelor degree in Advertising Design at Utah State University in 1985. Steve worked for 30 years as an art director and graphic designer in his hometown, producing work in nearly every segment of the industry. He's earned multiple local and national awards for his designs particularly with logo, apparel and publications. He'd been called a “Personality” and “All-around Creative Brain” in the local media.

For the past 15 years he has produced fine art; centering in mixed media and digital. Jerman created a style of combining images in Photoshop called Mergings™ and in 2011 published a book explaining and illustrating that style. He has also spoken on, and demonstrated that process. For over two decades he has been the merchandise licensee to the heirs of Everett Ruess, a talented young artist and poet who disappeared in Southern Utah in 1934.

Through all his endeavors he centers on the concept, but also exhibits an advanced design sense. His color ways have been lauded internationally. In 1994 the world's largest corporation called his work “Two or three steps ahead of the others”.

In May 2014 he re-located to Cache Valley Utah. And in the past two years shot and edited a documentary film called “The Cost of Being Different” which explores that transition. In his free time he enjoys writing, history, conversation, storytelling, fine foods and spending time with his 18-year-old son. You may view his work at

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

“The Cost of Being Different” is not a film I set out to make, but one that came to be.

Having artistic inclinations since a young age, I began to shoot photographs at around 12. I took photography my last quarter in college and had a camera on and off since then. Photography is an intergral part of advertising design, the field of art I majored in at Utah Sate University. There I met other photographers and absorbed their vision. This cross-pollination furthered in my work in advertising, and later editorial, as art director of several magazines and trade books working in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In my personal life film cameras gave way to digital and after a couple iterations of them, I got one that shot video (though I largely still shot stills.) Around 2010 I began to make short rock videos with the clips I edited on the software that came with my Apple Macintosh computer.

Having fun with this, I decided my next camera should be a high definition DLSR and bought a Sony A77. I began to enjoy recording what could be called “dairies” an outgrowth of using a digital recorder to record my thoughts dealing with traumatic personal issues and past history.

I continued to make these video diary entries as I left Salt Lake City to move to Denver and then quickly re-routed to Logan, Utah. After a year and a half of arriving I attended the Logan Film Festival kna The Block Film and Art Festival. It was there I was inspired to try my hand at putting something together.

As I looked a back over my footage of the past few years, I saw I could piece together a story. I initially used song titles for inspiration. Music had been the base of my earliest designs and entrepreneurial efforts. I then realized it would be good to interview others to flesh out the story. And after my second interview I knew I had a responsibility to my interviewees, and the town to really do a job that put everything in the best light, including myself. In a few months I had interviewed about 15 people.

Midway I became more concerned with the production values, especially sound, some of which I could not really improve because the first scenes just weren't meant to be professional. So I have ended up with a film that is a little rough around the edges but I think portrays an individual with one camera on a journey.

I've long had a philosophy that with the early work of an artist, it is not so much the quality of the art, but the feeling that surrounds it. I think that holds true here. So if I were to make a second film I'm sure the production values would be better, but the story less personal and organic.

I'm happy that what I was able to produce was good enough to attract what I think is top notch musical talent who have helped make the film what it is. I joke that town will never be the same. But I think I'm the own that has been changed.

Steven Ralph Jerman, October 13, 2016, The Island District, Logan, Utah USA