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Release date could be soon for movie filmed in local area

Nick Engan, right, visits with actors Mitch Hansen, from left, John Cromwell and Eric Nigg while filming last year at the Horsehoe Bar in Lake Lillian. Tribune file photo

WILLMAR -- Someday people around the world might know Kandiyohi County for its gorgeous scenery, and three misfits who get tangled up with everything from a gas station robbery to a ruthless and corrupt sheriff who deals drugs.

It took hours and hours of filming last autumn to capture it all, and a full year of editing by the film's creator to put it all together.

But sometime at the end of this month, film producer Nicholas Engan intends to show a preview of the film he is titling "Kandiyohi'' to a select audience.

"You don't go make a film unless you have to make it,'' said Engan, describing the 22- and 23-hour days he put in last autumn while producing the film.

Engan and his crew and cast filmed the movie at a variety of locations throughout the area. Ever since he's been getting lots of questions on the film's progress.

Engan, 27, a Willmar native, created Point Lake Pictures LLC and devoted much of last year turning all of the hours of film and audio into a 93-minute film.

He calls it both a character study and a modern western. The film uses flashbacks to tell the story of three friends who are re-united and the predicaments they get into, while revealing how they evolve through it all.

It's an independent production. The biggest challenge is still ahead: Engan will begin shopping the film to find a distributor for it.

There's no telling how that will go, or even if a buyer will keep the title that Engan has given the movie.

Engan said he's hopeful of seeing the movie reach the big screen and eventually making its way to homes as a DVD too.

If the movie's action sounds like an eye-opener, well that's fair to say about what the filming was like for Engan. Growing up in Willmar and enjoying the outdoors available here, Engan said he had always taken the surroundings for granted.

Taking a look at it all through a camera's eye, and composing a film using this area as the backdrop gave him a whole new appreciation for the surroundings. He said he found the scenery to be gorgeous, and believes it plays a big role in helping bring the film together.

The film was shot at a variety of locations, including some outside the county. A Clara City gas station served as the site for the robbery.

The Horseshoe Bar in Lake Lillian gave the authentic, western and rural setting desired for the reuniting of the three buddies. The Roosevelt Room at the Holiday Inn and its montage of trophy game mounts provided the backdrop for the corrupt lawman's home life.

Outdoor filming locations included the Trinity Lutheran Church Cemetery near Grove City, County Road 5 near Games Lake, areas north of Diamond Lake, and farmland north of Pennock and south of Lake Lillian.

"You'll see a lot,'' said Engan when asked how much of Kandiyohi County survived the editing process.

We may see a lot more from Engan in the years ahead too. With the completion of this film, he is at work on another film. He won't disclose much about the new film, but said he has a partner in the venture and is temporarily relocating to its location to prepare for production.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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