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The Story Behind ‘Underland’ Could Be Its Own Feel-Good Movie

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(credit: CBS) Angela Davis
Angela Davis joined the station in 2006. Angela co-anchors the Sund...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A new movie is being filmed in the Twin Cities right now, and the cast is sure to capture attention.

It’s called “Underland,” and it’s an action fantasy film about a girl who travels through time to a parallel universe where people with differences have all been sent to live.

All of the actors in the movie are teenagers and young adults with disabilities. The members of the film crew working on the movie are all professionals who are donating their time and equipment.

They’re shooting most of this in the woods near Crosby Park in St. Paul, and the setting has a rather creepy feel to it.
But what’s going on there is just beautiful.

Professional photographers, directors, costume makers and makeup artists, are all donating their expertise to a group of about 25 teenagers and young adults with special needs.

The young people are members of the Highland Friendship Club in St. Paul, which is a nonprofit group for young adults with disabilities.

They team up with a professional film crew on Tuesday mornings for 10 weeks during the summer, and make a movie that’s later shown in theaters.

Dusty Thune, the writer and director of “Underland,” says that as exciting as it is to film the scenes, it’s even more so the night of the premiere.

“It’s gonna be huge,” he said. “We have red carpet, limousine rides, these guys come out dressed to the nines: evening gowns and tuxedos. And it is a full-fledged Hollywood movie star celebrity showing.”

Thune is also a special education teacher in St. Paul. In the film industry, he works with props and costumes. He made all the costumes for this movie and pulled together the volunteers.

Ryan Swan is the director of photography for the film, and he’s amazed by how much support the project is getting from people who work in the industry.

He’s also seen firsthand how the movie helps boost the self-confidence of the young actors.

“It’s really about seeing that these kids live their fantasy through film and are able to understand that they have capabilities beyond where people put them,” Swan said.

Charlie Jenkins has one of the lead roles. He plays a character named Berglove.

“Sometimes it is hard to memorize the words at first, but people can get in the hang of it,” he said.

The makeup and costumes seem to instill confidence. Stephanie Kampa loves the way the make-up artists made her look.

“You should see my costume. You can like kick butt in that. They make me feel like, really sexy, you know,” Kampa said, with a laugh.

Samuel Hesla plays a bad guy, but assured me he’s a good guy in real life.

He likes the action scenes.

“The acting stuff, you gotta run from there to there. There to there, that’s also part of acting,” Hesla said.

Thune and his wife have worked part time at the Highland Friendship Club for about 10 years.

This is the fourth movie they’ve done with this group, and each year they say they get more help from pros in the industry who want to help out.

If you want to see the movie when they’re all done shooting and editing, “Underland” will be shown at the O’Shaughnessy Auditorium on the campus of St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, on Saturday, Sept. 14.

The screening is at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the stars arriving on that red carpet. They’ll receive awards after the one hour movie.

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