There’s a saying that it takes a village to make an (independent) movie. Where the villagers are the cast and crew that come together to bring life to words on a page. In indie films, many of the villagers will have multiple duties outside of their expertise or asked to pitch in to help ‘make the days’. Along with the villagers comes the actual village, usually consisting of 1 or 2 locations, preferably local, and with as few sets as possible.
All of this is done to keep costs down and ensure the indie film will be completed within the small budget.
Well, we’re not most indiefilms. Our story required a small town’s look and feel, as the setting plays just as an important role of a character as the actors, and after scouring through multiple possible towns, we settled on the cozy town of Washburn, Wisconsin. Quite a ways from our local area of Los Angeles, over 2,500 miles in fact! Washburn has the right look. The right feel. As an added bonus, our very own Derek Haugen, who plays Ned Morris, was from there. We hoped with his family history and connections it would make it easier to get permits and maybe get some leeway during shooting, especially through the late nights. We didn’t expect what we ended up getting.
This wonderful town played a vital role in getting our film completed and keeping the producers from tearing all of their hair out. In addition to the great small town look and feel, they made it easy to get the proper shooting permits and the neighbors around the shooting house were understanding of the late night shoots. Many of the locals would even come and see what we were up to, especially when there were loads of blood soaked snow on the front lawn, and some would stay to help on-set, from being extras or production assistant for the day to keeping us fed. Once word got out about our movie, there were people from nearby cities coming through as well, such as from Duluth, Minneapolis and even as far as Milwaukee. The townspeople helped making our days easier and often brighter, by regaling us with local stories and gossip and in one case, a simple funny gesture was seen by the crew and writers that made it into the movie. Potato.
From the additional on-set help, to nights where a local ‘ma’ would bring us dinner because it’s a nice thing to do, we would be hard pressed to say that this movie could have been made without them. Especially coming from a place, where movies and shows are regularly shot, and rarely anyone will give it a second look, it was very eye opening and endearing to have most of the town come and support us in more ways than can be outlined.
If you’re an indie filmmaker, I would recommend checking out some small towns and contacting local theater companies to see about shooting there and possibly getting extras. One of our producers Allan did this, and the response was overwhelming. We were able to get more help and extras than we thought we could, especially given all of the snow that had fallen and how cold it was. Amazing people. Amazing town.
We thank you Washburn, Wisconsin for all of the help and support and helping us stay alive during the brutal snow storms.