Business is booming for Northland film industry
While many movies are filmed in places like Hollywood, more have been filmed in the Northland lately.
“The Upper Midwest Film Office has been around since December of 2020,” said Executive Director Shari Marshik. “The Upper Minnesota Film Office was actually started in 1985. So the industry has been here since the 95, but we’re really the last two years it’s taken off.”
A major reason for the increased film production in the area is financial motivation.
“The reason why we have so many projects coming now is simply because of the incentives. So right now, if you are in St. Louis County and you produce a project, for the expenses that you incur here in Saint Louis County on local wages, local expenses you can get 25% cash back,” explained Marshik. “We have incentives and incentive plans in Duluth and in Saint Louis County and on the Iron Range, and they are all stackable on top of the Minnesota incentive, and that makes this a very, very good place to produce some of these projects.”
The unique scenery of the region is another factor in the interest from filmmakers.
“On the Iron Range, we have the mines and the mine landscapes, and we have woodlands and small towns, and then we have the lake which can double as an ocean,” detailed Marshik. “It has doubled as an ocean many times. We have Park Point, which is a beach which has also doubled for a Jamaican beach. We have just a plethora of mountainous and downtowns and things that can double for almost any location. So it’s just a very rich location site.”
Depending on the movie, having a lengthy winter can help filmmakers avoid having to make fake snow.
“Every day we field new calls,” said Marshik. “We have a number of projects that are looking at shooting early next year to take advantage of snow. And we continue to look for more.”
The most recent project is a movie that was filmed in the summer of 2022.
“Merry Kiss Cam is a rom-com. We call it a little love letter to Duluth,” said Marshik. “And it features some local actors. Bailey Stender is in it and we’re very, very excited to have them there.”
Merry Kiss Cam will be streaming on Hulu starting on Thanksgiving Day. Two other movies are now being filmed in the Northland, one in the Hibbing/Chisholm area and the other in Duluth. These projects are expected to bring more tourism and economic growth to the area.
“I think what we want from the Northand is for people to be excited about it. There’s a lot of different things that you can do if you want to be involved in it. You can be an extra on a film,” said Marshik.”
The movie “Body Language” is filming in downtown Duluth and needs extras on November 16-18. All extras must be 18+ and have a negative COVID test result. If interested, you can send a photo and contact number to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another way to help is by simply watching the movies made in the area.
“You can go to a film festival and you can watch the movies. The general public is very welcome, and we would love for you to be involved,” said Marshik. “We have a unique time in history to really take advantage of economic development, and this industry is one of those industries that is there. It’s practically banging down our door. It’s here, and we can all benefit from it.”