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Shoot a full feature film in Rochester? Let's do it, says local producer.

Shoot a full feature film in Rochester? Let's do it, says local producer.

Producer Jon Julsrud is returning to his roots and hoping to slice, edit and transition Rochester into a regional hub for filmmaking. 

After spending a number of years in Los Angeles, primarily working on visual effects, Julsrud has come back to his hometown.

And he's not wasting any time. 

Julsrud, a Mayo High School grad, recently launched his own production services company, Box Office LLC, and has already started pre-production on its first feature length film. 

The script for the film, called Project Gaslight, is about "an artist [who] fights to save her unborn child as she and her husband discover their new tenants are not what they pretend to be."

Julsrud plans to begin shooting the movie in Rochester next summer. To get the project in motion, he has started a crowdfunding campaign through Seed&Spark's Hometown Heroes Rally. With about a week remaining, the campaign has raised more than $7,000 toward its $10,750 goal. 

"We are trying to engage the local Rochester community as much as possible as this Hometown Heroes rally is rooted in making films within your hometown community," Julsrud told us. 

We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Julsrud, who told us he believes Rochester could soon rival Duluth and the Twin Cities when it comes to cultural and artistic diversity.

Tell us about yourself and the project.

I’m a Rochester native that recently moved back after spending the last decade based out of Los Angeles working in feature films and post production. I came home to open Box Office LLC a production services company offering VFX, marketing & distribution services, and independent productions; the first feature length film we are in pre-production on is a psychological thriller about the emotional abuse of gas lighting. It is currently part of Seed & Spark’s Hometown Heroes Rally. We still need to gather 150 followers and raise $3,000 in order to qualify.

Who else is working with you on this?

Our goal is to get as much talent and resources from Rochester as possible. Currently, Emily Tremaine is attached to play the lead and we are approaching other actors with ties to Rochester. Alex Kaufman, and his band Dichotomy are creating an original soundtrack for the film. We hope to gain enough interest to be able to pitch the feature to the Duplass Brothers to join the film as executive producers. We are currently reaching out to certain businesses as well as local entrepreneurs and investors that have an interested in becoming active investors in the film.

Why Rochester, and not somewhere else?

I grew up in Rochester, and I always knew I would return. A couple of the films I plan to make are (story) based in Minnesota and I only see them being shot here. I needed to cut my teeth in LA, now I am back. Minnesota is a great state with so much to offer, and Rochester is poised to become as much of a cultural and artistic center as the Twin Cities or Duluth. I am also working on bringing a regional tax incentive to the area for filmmaking that could piggy back off the state tax incentive, Snowbate, in order to promote film tourism and bring more feature films and television to the area bolstering regional economic development.

Is there a strong film community here? 

I’m surprised how much the arts and culture landscape has changed in Rochester since I graduated from Mayo High School about 15 years ago. Both professionals working in the industry and amateurs with an interest and need to express themselves. My feature being shot in Rochester isn’t as unique as I thought, either. I’m currently helping two other productions; a TV movie, the other a feature length film. I also know of another person hoping to shoot a feature here next year, a redemption story about a basketball star, about the time I will be in production on Project Gaslight.

What's going to make Project Gaslight stand out?

People crave interesting stories with authentic characters. Gas lighting is a theme that hasn’t been seen too often in films but I think will have a resurgence in popularity over the next few years based on the current socio-political climate. We also possess the skills to create a high-quality product, inexpensively and an early defined marketing and distribution strategy. The film stands out for investors because of the mitigated risk and low entry point as compared to other movies.

What are your next steps for getting the project off the ground?

The train has left the station; we are in pre-production right now. I just got the first draft of the script back and we are already attaching name talent, even on our micro-budget. We are also lining up product placement money through brand integration. The next step is finding a few more investors in order to secure the rest of the equity investment portion of the budget. We are only looking for about $60,000 and buy-in starts at as little as $300.

You can learn more about "Project Gaslight" here.

Cover photo: Jon Julsrud / Submitted

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