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Park Rapids teens make a movie

‘Intellectual Property’ hits the screen Oct. 14 at the Park Theatre.

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Local teens Allisann Kreger, Caleb Hawn and Tucker Keysor made an original movie this summer in Park Rapids. Titled "Intellectual Property," it plays Thursday, Oct. 14 at the Park Theatre. Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise, Sept. 15, 2021

The latest of several movies recently shot in the Park Rapids area was actually made by young people who live here.

“Intellectual Property” was written, filmed and acted by a cast and crew of mostly local teenagers on location in Park Rapids. It will have a special screening Thursday, Oct. 14 at the Park Theatre.

Caleb Hawn, 17, Tucker Keysor, 15, and Allisann Kreger, 14, shared how the idea to make a movie came about.

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Evelyn Hawn, left, shoots a scene in the home of Keysor's character, Justin, as Hawn, Kreger and Keysor argue over a pizza. Contributed / Caleb Hawn, Sept. 16, 2021

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From podcast to movie

“Caleb and I – we’re cousins,” said Kreger. “For years, we would make little YouTube skit videos and put them on a channel I refuse to name. We would put them out there on this little tiny phone that he had picked up from a Target phone disposal bin. … It looks like it was filmed on a brick.”

“It was all for fun,” Keysor said. “The intentions were there.”

“The effort was there,” Kreger agreed. “The good part was not.”

Nevertheless, it was a start. Their current YouTube channel, Ztake Studios, carries a trailer for the film and several behind-the-scenes videos from the process of making it.

“It’s almost, like, a company at this point,” said Kreger. “We’ve got a website. We’ve got other things, rather than just films. They’ve got a podcast" – meaning Keysor and Hawn.

Asked what the podcast is about, Keysor said, “It is two teenagers just talking, and people seem to find it interesting.”

“Teengares find it interesting,” Hawn corrected.

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“Yes,” said Keysor. “Most adults are like, ‘Wow! They are a bunch of teenagers!’”

Explaining that Ztake is a reference to Generation Z, he added, “That was the audience it was directed at. A lot of this came out of, ‘Oh, this would be a fun idea.’ One day we were like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to start a podcast?’ And the next thing you know, we had microphones and we were doing it. And then we’re like, ‘Hey, let’s make a movie.’ It’s just kind of a fun thing we did with our friends.”

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In this still from the film, Hawn (left), Johnson, VanGelderen and Keysor have a confrontation over a stolen item somewhere in downtown Park Rapids. Contributed / Caleb Hawn, Sept. 16, 2021

From page to screen

In May, Hawn co-wrote the script with his sister, Evelyn. After having friends proofread the script, they went into production from June 24 to Sept. 8.

Hawn admitted being influenced by a comedy sketch series titled “Freelancers” on the YouTube channel JK! Studios.

Apart from that, Kreger said, they taught themselves the process of filmmaking by doing. “We learned what worked and what didn’t,” she said.

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Besides their production roles, the three friends play main characters in the film, along with castmates Susanna Carter, Jake Jones, John VanGelderen and local attorney Zack Johnson. Other local youths, including Evelyn and Lydia Hawn and Ronia Larson, served as crew members.

Caleb credited Evelyn especially for using her artistic talent to sketch scenes. “We had some ideas,” he said. “We all had ideas of, ‘We want this shot.’”

He added that Evelyn turned out to be “an amazing cinematographer,” composing wide, sweeping shots.

Asked how many days it took to shoot the film, Hawn said, “More than we expected.”

“Whenever we had a day off,” said Keysor, “which amounted to most Thursdays. Then, Jake and Caleb edited quite a bit throughout the week.”

They started by flying in Hawn’s childhood friend, VanGelderen, from Michigan. A highly ranked taekwondo competitor, VanGelderen performed stunts for the film – “fun little flips” as Kreger put it.

“We had to plan all of the scenes with him on those days,” said Hawn.

Otherwise, they said, much of the production was chaotic and improvised. Kreger described the cast having a pillow fight and then, at a count of three, snapping into character and playing their scene. “It’s really funny to watch,” she said of the unedited footage.

“It was a lot in the moment,” said Keysor, saying they would look at how the sun was hitting a filming location and decide on the fly how to shoot the scene. “I think it turned out.”

“I think that was the best way to do a project like that with your friends,” said Hawn. “You can’t be too strict, or it’s no fun. You’ve gotta be loose with it.”

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Cast and crew of "Intellectual Property' gather in front of Bella Cafe after shooting scenes nearby – from left, Susanna Carter, Allisann Kreger, Evelyn Hawn, Jake Jones, Ronia Larson, Zack Johnson, John VanGelderen, costume designer Lydia Hawn, Tucker Keysor and Caleb Hawn. Contributed / Caleb Hawn, Sept. 16, 2021

Tight budget, mostly snacks

The movie was made on a $500 budget, much of which came out of Hawn’s pocket.

“Caleb got a job,” Keysor crowed. “It was actually pretty impressive.”

“Different people helped,” Hawn said modestly. “I covered the majority of it, but definitely, we had some input.”

“We’re made of cash,” Keysor joked.

A lot of that cash went toward buying snacks, Hawn said, “because that’s how you keep people happy.”

“That was for us behind the scenes,’ said Kreger.

“People got angry, we fixed the issue,” said Keysor.

They also bought some costume items, lighting equipment and a gimbal to steady the camera, which was an iPhone.

Kreger said their phones allowed them to shoot at a higher resolution and number of frames per second than many current cinematic features.

“We tried to have the quality there as much as possible, because we wanted this to look like a real movie,” Hawn said. “We built the script around how limited our resources were, how much we could do. We were stretching some things, but we made it work.”

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Behind the scenes at Heartland Park, Hawn, Jones, Kreger and Keysor prepare to shoot the final scene of their movie. Contributed / Caleb Hawn, Sept. 16, 2021

Don’t spoil the ending

The trio plays best friends: an inventor (Keysor) who has been developing an idea since he was 7 years old; his free spirited buddy (Hawn), described as “fun-loving, never really serious, just always eating,” and a young professional type (Kreger), who handles a lot of the business aspects of the invention, like trying to get a patent and investors.

“I almost finish this invention,” said Keysor, “and she finds an investor, who is Zack, who isn’t actually an investor, and that leads to a whole bunch of issues. It all kind of falls apart for all of us, and then … “

“Don’t give away the ending!” Hawn warned.

“That’s the gist of it,” said Keysor, relieved to be prevented from spoiling the whole movie.

“That’s the conflict,” said Johnson, who noted that he knows the kids through the church they all attend.

Although he was acting in his first movie, Johnson also served as an acting coach, using the method acting technique of Sanford Meisner.

“I was the blind leading the blind,” Johnson quipped.

“I thought it was kind of a joke,” said Keysor, “but sometimes it was helpful to me.”

Johnson surprised the kids with the news that he plans to share a link to the movie with his contacts in New York and Hollywood.

Until then, Kreger said, “Sitting here is further than we thought we would have gone with this,” and she mused that everybody involved has had the thought, “What if I did this and became famous?”

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Behind the scenes, cast and crew members prepare to shoot an action scene in "Intellectual Property" – from left, John VanGelderen, Zack Johnson, camera operator Ronia Larson, Tucker Keysor and Susanna Carter. Contributed / Caleb Hawn, Sept. 16, 2021

Future in films?

Kreger said the group definitely plans to add more content to their website, just not necessarily films.

Keysor added that they’ve thrown around the idea of making a sequel, because the movie’s ending leaves some loose ends.

“The idea of it is fun,” said Kreger. “The idea of what we would have to do to achieve that is not.”

“Obviously, with anything you do, there’s gonna be difficulties,” Keysor argued. “But it was a lot of fun to do something that we’ve never done before with our friends. … I enjoyed it.”

While lots of kids post videos on YouTube, actually getting theirs shown in a theatre is “kind of cool,” said Keysor.

While acknowledging that “Intellectual Property” is their best work so far, Kreger hastened to add, “People should take into account when watching it that it was made by a group of teenagers.”
“It’s not gonna be perfect,” Hawn agreed. “If you were to market it, the main hook would be, ‘Hey! Some teenagers made something that’s not completely useless.’”

“I think, though, that if they come expecting to have a good time and see a good movie, they won’t be disappointed,” said Johnson.

Related Topics: MOVIES
Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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