MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Bill Pohlad said he had been working on a film called “Tree of Life” with Brad Pitt, when he was asked if he’d be interested in working on a project on slavery.

“We just got in when they were working on the script.” Pohlad said to WCCO Radio’s Dave Lee.

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Pohlad’s production company, River Road, co-financed the project.

The film is based on the true story of Solomon Northrup, a free black man in the pre-Civil War United States who was abducted from upstate New York and sold into slavery.

“12 Years a Slave” is directed by Steve McQueen.

There was originally a book, which was written by Northrup, right after he was freed.

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It was a popular book at the time, but came out just a year before “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

“And it was kind of swallowed up in history by that,” Pohlad said.

As far as making movies, Pohlad said he doesn’t do it for the awards.

Pohlad is also working on “Love & Mercy: The Lives, Times and Music of Brian Wilson,” a biopic about the legendary Beach Boys singer-songwriter.

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It is the first time Pohlad has directed a film since “Old Explorers” in 1990.