The made-in-Minnesota thriller “3 Day Weekend” celebrates its release this weekend on multiple, digital streaming platforms.
Written, directed and produced by filmmaking team Wyatt McDill and Megan Huber,
“3 Day Weekend” was shot entirely in the Park Rapids area. It stars Morgan Krantz (“In the Dark”), Maya Stojan (“Agents of Shield”), Nathan Phillips (“Snakes on a Plane”) and Scott MacDonald (“Jarhead”).
McDill and Huber, who are married and run their own film company, Sleeper Cell, divide their time between Minnesota and Los Angeles, but both were raised in small towns in northern Minnesota – Princeton and Bemidji, respectively – and both say they drew on their experience to make the film as authentically Minnesotan as possible.
“3 Day Weekend” shot for 17 days near Park Rapids. They scouted for a film location, described in the script as “a remote woods near a desolate lake,” for six months before choosing the Two Inlets area.
“Believe it or not, we looked all summer for the right location,” says Huber. “If a lake looks good enough to be in a movie, it’s usually pretty developed, and won’t play as ‘desolate.’”
The couple was thrilled to finally find the perfect location on a lake near the Mississippi headwaters.
In addition to an all-Minnesota crew, “3 Day Weekend” received a Snowbate grant from the legislature. According to the MN Film and TV Commission, the Snowbate tax incentive is available to feature films, documentaries, music videos, national television programs or series, television pilots, TV commercials, internet and post-production-only projects.
“This film is Minnesota born and bred,” says McDill. “We’re really proud of that. And we think being from here makes it feel like, well, the real deal. Minnesotans will recognize these characters and this story.”
In “3 Day Weekend,” amateur camper Ben Boyd (played by Krantz) wanders onto private property deep in the Minnesota wilderness. There he finds a kidnapping in progress.
The kidnapper chases Ben into the woods, where Ben becomes lost, with only the kidnapping victim’s phone for clues to the events unfolding around him.
When the story switches to the kidnapper’s point of view, however, and then the other characters’, it becomes clear that everyone’s looking at the same facts, but seeing completely different stories. The puzzle isn’t truly resolved until the film’s final shot.
And the entire story – the filmmakers are proud of this – is told without dialogue.
“If you like escape rooms, or jigsaw puzzles, or mystery novels, or crossword puzzles, this might be the story for you,” says McDill, the film’s writer. “We wanted to make a film that we’d want to watch, one that starts fast and challenges the viewer with a complicated puzzle, from beginning to end.”
“3 Day Weekend” had a special screening last year at the Twin Cities Film Festival, where McDill won an award for the screenplay, before making its world premiere at the Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, Calif.
“3 Day Weekend” is available after Oct. 3 to screen on the filmmakers’ screening site, www.sleepercell.tv, or on Amazon Prime, YouTube, or Vimeo, as well as Showtime on demand. “The best way to support Midwest filmmaking is to buy direct from the filmmakers, on our site or on Amazon,” says Huber.
If enough people watch, the couple has plans for more films like “3 Day Weekend,” a series of puzzle movies called “The 10,000 10,” ten puzzle movies set in Minnesota, and beginning with a number one through ten.
As for the filmmakers, there are other Minnesota projects in their immediate future. They have another feature, a comedy called “Hollywood Fringe,” screening at this year’s Twin Cities Film Festival later in October and they are in discussions to direct an online version of The New Standards’ annual holiday show, which can’t be held live this year because of the virus.
“We look forward to telling as many Minnesota stories as we can,” says McDill. “All of our projects always bring us back home.”