By Starrla Cray
LORETTO, MN What does the city of Loretto have in common with Hollywood, CA?
Well, until now, not much, but soon, Loretto will be the site of a feature film, “How I Survived Summer Camp.”
“We want to start shooting this spring,” said Mitchel Jones of TRIWAR/Chasing Autumn production company.
The 90-minute movie centers on a 13-year-old “regular kid” named Sean Cooper, who has “big aspirations but little confidence.”
While attending his first summer camp, Cooper forms a friendship with Jesse “Munch” Munson and his geek sidekick, Eugene.
Things don’t seem so bad, until a package arrives that was meant for a nearby laboratory. The substance infects the entire camp overnight, and Cooper and his friends are left to fight a horde of infected humans on the attack.
“It’ll be reminiscent of ‘80s films, geared toward ages 9 to 16,” Jones explained to a group of Loretto business people who met at Loretto City Hall last Monday.
The movie is set in present day, but has the feel of pre-teen epics such as “The Goonies” and “Monster Squad.” It’s also similar to the “Goosebumps” books by RL Stein.
Most of the filming will take place at Loretto’s YMCA campsite, 3425 Ihduhapi Road.
However, one of the opening scenes will show a bus going through Loretto on the way to camp. According to Nicole Kruex of TRIWAR/Chasing Autumn, this will be a neat plug for local businesses.
Total filming time will be four to six weeks, with about three days of filming in Loretto’s business district.
“We might not shoot everything in the town, but we’re still going to need the town,” Kruex said, explaining that the 20-person crew will come to Loretto for meals, equipment, and other necessities.
Public Works Director Jeff Leuer asked if they will need to shut down streets. Kruex said it’s a possibility, but it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
“Probably not as much as you’d think,” she said. “We want there to be activity.”
The movie is expected to release in fall 2011, with the goal of going straight to DVD.
Releasing to DVD is often more profitable than showing in theatres, according to Jones.
“The theatre exists to push DVD sales, and is lucky to break even,” he said. “How I Survived Summer Camp” will be available wherever videos are sold, as well as at local businesses.
A few people at the meeting said they’d like the movie to be done in time for Loretto Funfest in mid-September.
“If we could hit that timeline, that could work really well,” Kruex agreed, adding that the residents of Loretto will be the first ones to see the film. Before it’s available on DVD, Kruex said she plans to have a community showing.
Community involvement throughout the entire process will be crucial, according to Jones.
“We want to use local kids as much as possible,” he said. “Making a movie is a lot of fun, and a really good experience.”
They plan to use someone from Nickelodeon or Disney to help hype and sell the movie, but stressed the importance of providing opportunities for local actors, as well (mainly between the ages of 8 and 17).
“Given ways to express themselves, kids are less likely to do things they shouldn’t,” Kruex said. “They have something positive to look forward to.”
Kruex, a Loretto native, said she is excited to give back to the community where she grew up.
“We very strongly believe in community support,” she said. “It’s just the way we work. Our goal is not only to entertain, but to give back.”
A percentage of the proceeds will be given to the YMCA, and the city of Loretto. In addition to DVD sales, there will be a merchandising plan with t-shirts, shoes, hats, posters, action figures, board games, and more.
TRIWAR/Chasing Autumn, based in Ham Lake, does a variety of music videos, commercials, and documentaries.
“All of them have been very well-received,” Kruex said.
The company started with horror films, because they are the easiest to do and sell, according to Jones.
“How I Survived Summer Camp” will be its second major feature film.
To learn more about TRIWAR/Chasing Autumn, go to www.triwarpictures.com.