MARQUETTE - A pair of brothers from the Upper Peninsula has teamed with a college friend to develop a script which will become a feature to be filmed in their hometown of Iron Mountain - and at the former K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base.
Brothers Seth and Nathan Anderson, who call Iron Mountain their hometown, and Jason Hagen, who hails from Chaska, Minn., plan to film "Northstar" at locations in Iron Mountain and K.I. Sawyer starting as soon as January.
"(We're) originally from Minnesota but grew up in Iron Mountain. My brother Seth and I were always creative when we were younger, collaborating on comics, movies and all kinds of stuff," Nathan Anderson said via email. "I returned to Minnesota for college at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and refined my craft as both a visual artist and filmmaker.
Brothers Nathan (second from left) and Seth Anderson discuss filming a scene. The brothers from the U.P. plan to shoot a feature on location in Iron Mountain and on the former K.I. Sawyer Air Force base
Finding a distinct film name was something we always wanted to have, Nathan Anderson said. The meaning behind the name is supposed to describe the feeling we would like to convey with the work.?
His brother Seth elaborated: Lullskull is a term that tries to get at how we approach our films. We’re not very interested in making ultra fast-paced movies that don’t give the viewer any time to think about, much less enjoy the world a filmmaker is trying to create. So to that end, we want to make films with a more deliberate (or lulled) pace, compared to what you typically see these days. In addition to this aim, we love genre stories (science fiction, horror, mystery, etc.), so I don’t think we can help adding an element of the macabre or fantastic into everything we do (hence the skull).
"I met Jason Hagen there and we worked so well together that it became an even stronger production team out of college. We moved to Los Angeles, Calif., in 2003 and formed Lullskull Ltd. Now, we are so excited to be bringing this film to Michigan."
The Andersons still live in L.A., but Hagen, his wife and their 2-year-old son now live in New York City. But the trio works closely together on this project, which comes on the heels of the successful short films "The Merciful Death of Jonas Blake," a 2006 experimental western, and "Black," a 2008 psychic thriller, both of which were screened at several U.S. film festivals.
"The germ for 'Northstar' comes from a 30-minute short script I wrote just after graduating from the UW-Milwaukee film program in 2004," Seth Anderson said in an email. "Even then, the story focused on a family eking out an existence in the wilderness after a mysterious event has devastated the United States. Soon it's revealed that a girl in this family unknowingly holds a valuable secret to what caused the tragedy, and a dangerous group of soldiers comes in to keep what she knows under wraps.
"From there, loyalties are tested and the family splinters," Seth Anderson said. "'Northstar' is still basically about family and who we turn to when our world is turned upside down, so on that level, we've stayed true to core concepts I was playing with 10 years ago. It's obviously been a long journey for us."
All three have collaborated on the story.
"The three of us (Jason, Nathan and myself) worked out the basic storyline from my initial 2004 idea," Seth Anderson said. "I then wrote the script myself based on these extensive story conferences. In the end, our films are always the product of a careful collaborative process that requires the three of us to sign off on every detail. I think this three-man dynamic has been vital in making our films distinctive and our voice unique."
The filmmakers have worked out a timetable for shooting in the U.P.
"As of right now we're slating to shoot January and February 2014 in Iron Mountain and at (the former) K.I. Sawyer AFB (near) Gwinn," Hagen said in an email. "Main locations for this film are in Iron Mountain, the main street, schools and surrounding areas. We have set up a wonderful relationship with the Main Street manager there who is welcoming our project with immense support.
"After shooting in Iron Mountain, we're then slated to shoot the end of the film and interiors at K.I. Sawyer. This location will allow us to display a retired air force base as a location and character, adding to the stark production value."
Seth Anderson said: "Thanks to our intimate knowledge of the area, we've always assumed this film would be shot in the U.P. during the winter months so we could achieve the right level of desolation. Despite the cold, snow is very photogenic!"
This fall is when the filmmakers will begin work locally.
"We hope to begin setting up internships, recruiting U.P. talent as earliest as October and November, at the beginning of formal pre-production," Hagen said. "We're very excited to bring this film to Nathan and Seth's hometown, give back to their community, while at the same time include as much top-notch Michigan talent in our project as possible."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org