Film crew to shoot RTC promoPublished 11:24am Tuesday, November 1, 2011
With movie interest heating up around Fergus Falls’ Regional Treatment Center facilities, the Minnesota Film and TV Board will be in town Thursday to shoot a promotional video of the state hospital building to market to interested filmmakers and production studios. The step is the board’s biggest attempt yet to market Fergus Falls as a prime film location.
“It’s strictly meant to be a promotion of Fergus Falls and the RTC,” said Chris Grap, director of production services with the board. “We believe in that property as a location. It’s unique to the state.”
The board has long had pictures of the RTC site on its website, but Grap (who has been lobbying the city to cooperate with filmmakers for about five years) said the video might be the extra push the site needs.
“We can show photos, absolutely, but for somebody to get out there with a camera is helpful for selling the scope and detail of the location,” he said. The film will also have interviews with city contacts for added perspective.
Another difference with the promotional film is that the board will show it directly to production crews with films in the pipeline, targeting its marketing to films with potential to use the location. Though Grap believes the RTC could work in a variety of film genres, he said some that stick out are horror movies, psychological thrillers or just movies set in a mental institution or hospital, like 1992’s Ray Liotta, Kiefer Sutherland and Forest Whitaker vehicle “Article 99.”
“It really just depends on what people have and how you can tailor the location to them,” Grap remarked.
While the film board is making pitches, Fergus Falls Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Executive Director Jean Bowman is receiving them. It’s reflective, she said, of the city’s new attitude toward getting a filmmaker in town: “We want you here, we’re serious, (and) we’ve got a 12-month window for shooting.”
A man with a Montana-based film company is working with her to try to get a film shot at the RTC, but he needs to come with a shooting schedule and funding sources before he speaks with the city council about it. She also recently threw the city’s name into the ring for programming on the SyFy Channel. She’s been in contact with a production employee scouting out filming sites for a show about “paranormal stories.”
“She’s going to pass (the RTC) around to some of the producers,” Bowman said. “It’s another kind-of warm lead.”
While Grap is aware of the city’s current plans to either sell the RTC buildings or tear them down, he said he’s heard the talk about the impending doom or sale of the site before – like when the city turned down a film written specifically for the state hospital building when it was trying to turn the site into a Chinese college.
“I feel like we’ve been hearing these things for years,” he said.
Grap hopes the site will attract a movie soon. Once one person shoots there, he said, more people will want to, and he thinks the preservation of the site as a film location (or the money it could generate as a tourism site because of films) could possibly be all the city needs to make the site profitable instead of a liability.
“There’s got to be a willingness from the community to let someone in and say, ‘OK, let’s give it a try,’” he said.
The film crew is set to arrive in town around 11 a.m.