Game Of Thrones Star Leads Latest Film To Shoot In Minnesota
Minnesota has reeled in its next major motion picture project following up on last summer’s production of Wilson, a graphic novel adaptation starring Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern.
Spinning Man, a psychological thriller, is set to begin shooting on June 8. The movie stars several high-profile names including Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (of Game of Thrones), Greg Kinnear and Emma Roberts.
With a budget of $7 million, Spinning Man is slightly smaller than the Wilson production, which was budgeted at $10.6 million and had Minnesota-based expenditures of more than $6 million. It took 30 days to film Wilson across its 54 shooting locations. Spinning Man, however, is still scouting locations but is likely to remain within the Twin Cities area.
“For this production, one of the major locations is a college,” said Lucinda Winter, executive director of the Minnesota Film and TV Board. “I think they’ll try to find a college campus and the main character’s home that are in close proximity to one other.”
Which college will be utilized has yet to be decided. According to Winter, members of Spinning Man crew including producer (and St. Paul native) Keith Arnold and director Peter Flinth are currently weighing their options.
Filmmakers have successfully utilized Minnesota college campuses before, such as the recent case of Dear White People. That drama/comedy (budgeted at $1.6 million) was filmed almost entirely at the University of Minnesota during the summer. The post-Sundance success of Dear White People eventually led to Netflix announcing this month it would adapt the film into a 10-episode series. (Winter notes that director Justin Simien has yet to decide whether Dear White People would return to Minnesota to film.)
Meanwhile, as Spinning Man continues through its pre-production phase, the film’s other producer Ellen Wander has already begun selling distribution rights to the film at Cannes Film Festival, which opened last Wednesday. Without even a single shot wrapped, Universal has already acquired Spinning Man for certain distribution territories based solely on the script, crew and star power behind it.
Spinning Man is one of 158 current productions eligible for Minnesota’s film incentive program, colloquially known as Snowbate. So long as 60 percent of the production of a movie, television show or commercial occurs in Minnesota, filmmakers are able to recoup up to 25 percent of their costs limited to a $5 million cap. State film rebate programs play a major role in determining film locations.
“The first and—almost sad to say—only thing you do is go to the current list of filming-incentive states and decide which ones might possibly fit the story you are trying to tell,” producer Robert Graf said in TCB’s January cover story on Minnesota’s nascent film industry. Graf is best known for his work producing every film by the Coen brothers dating back to O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
“Were it not for incentives, there are all sorts of movies that would undoubtedly consider Minnesota,” Graf said. “Instead, you have to have a pretty compelling reason to want to shoot in Minnesota.”
If all $7 million of Spinning Man’s budget were spent in state, the film could expect to receive a $1.75 million rebate. Part of maximizing that incentive return requires productions to hire locally (as two-thirds of production costs are typically payroll related). Details behind the number of speaking rolls or crewmembers have not yet been revealed, but similar scale productions like Wilson called for more than 100 behind-the-camera workers and 54 actors.
The Minnesota Film and TV Board estimates Spinning Man could bring millions of dollars in net direct proceeds to the state and believes it could bolster Minnesota’s profile as a filmmaking destination.