By Kirsten Mitchell

Originally published on April 26

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The bright lights of Hollywood have made it to the streets of St. Paul. Crews are filming an independent movie based on a novel by an author with Minnesota connections.

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Film crews were spotted at The Spot Bar Tuesday afternoon, drawing neighbors outside to check out the action.

“It’s exciting, it’s the local watering hole, tried to come into the bar the other night, but we weren’t crew, so we were denied access,” nearby resident Jessica Sanders said.

Crews have also been spotted at Highland Park High School filming scenes well into the night. The star-studded cast includes Ed Harris, Fin Wittrock, Henry Golding, Vanessa Hudgens, and Lily Rabe who is also co-directing the independent film.

The film’s based on Chuck Klosterman’s 2008 novel “Downtown Owl.”

“I did not believe this was actually going to happen! I didn’t believe it would happen until they said we are filming this movie in Minnesota this week,” Klosterman said.

WEB EXTRA: Extended Interview With Chuck Klosterman

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Klosterman was born in Minnesota and raised in North Dakota. He said Rabe voiced the audio book years ago, and there’s been interest from Hollywood ever since, though until now, no projects have come to fruition.

While filmed in Minnesota, Klosterman said the movie takes place in North Dakota.

“A small North Dakota town in 1983 with these three central characters, a high school kid, a teacher, and an old guy. It all kind of leads up toward this cataclysmic blizzard that did happen in real life,” Klosterman said of the plot.

Producer Bettina Barrow said they chose Minnesota as a filming location because of the recently passed film production tax credit, not available in North Dakota.

“I love this city; I haven’t been here before but it’s so beautiful and I think everyone else feels the same way. It’s freezing sometimes!” Barrow said.

She said the film features many local actors and is made possible with local production crew members.

“Everyone has been very open and nice. I don’t know if that’s the Minnesota nice getting to them or it’s just them,” Highland Park resident Joe Hutchinson said.

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Other scenes have been shot in Independence and Elko New Market, Minnesota. The film’s producer said Sony Pictures is distributing the film sometime next year. Their dream is to have it premiere at Sundance Film Festival.

Kirsten Mitchell