New Minn. movie company plans Iron Range film

Movie makers
Filmmakers gathered Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012,to announce the new movie "Thanksgiving at Denny's," which will be filmed on the Minnesota Iron Range next year. From left to right: director Josh Blum, Griffin Production principal Buck Humphrey, Griffin Productions president Jerry Seppala, and Minnesota Film and Television Board Executive Director Lucinda Winter.
MPR Photo/Euan Kerr

Griffin Productions, a new Minnesota-based movie company, will shoot a romantic comedy feature film on the Iron Range early next year. Work on the movie, which has a working title of "Thanksgiving at Denny's," will begin in the spring, with the aim of a fall 2013 release.

Griffin Productions is led by President Jerry Seppala, with principal partners that include Buck Humphrey, grandson of former Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and veteran producer Steve Brown.

Company president Jerry Seppala said he intends the film to be the first of many.

"This isn't going to be a one-off kind of production," he said. "We hope to bring 10 to 12 projects that we have currently at Griffin Productions in pre-production within the next three to five years."

Humphrey added that while the movies may not have big budgets, he believes they will help the state's economy. "We are hoping that some of the more medium to smaller-sized budget films, with a larger volume of those films coming to Minnesota, will actually create a more stable stream of economic success here in Minnesota," Humphrey said.

"Thanksgiving at Denny's" is a comedy about a newly unemployed computer programmer who returns to his hometown in hopes of winning the heart of a woman who has obsessed him since high school.

Casting for the film will be announced in about a month, and will include actors from auditions in Los Angeles, New York and Minnesota.

This will be Josh Blum's debut as a director. He has been a producer on several indie hits including "Margin Call" and "Wendy and Lucy." His company, Washington Square Films, has worked many times in Minnesota already making TV commercials.

Representatives of the Minnesota Film and Television Board say they hope to convince state lawmakers to include more incentives for film production in the next state budget, and Griffin Films officials say they will support that effort.

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Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that former U.S. Rep. Vin Weber was a principal partner of Griffin Productions. The current version is correct.

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