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What's New
InnovateND and the Innovative businesses still seeking funds... 
A few weeks ago an entrepreneur competition called InnovateND wittled it's 58 second round participants to 23 final round participants who are competing for cash prizes, exposure, and investors. In all, 84 businesses submitted ideas to this year's innovateND competition. The particpants, who pay a $100 enrollment fee, are then party to all the information contained within the InnovateND "members only" area within the website. This "members only" area works as a tutorial/online course/resource guide/discussion forum as well as direct contact with the innovateND team. In it's second year, NoDak Films along with many if not all participants, found the InnovateND process beneficial with room for improvement.

NoDak Films, along with many other businesses, did not advance to the final round, but like many other businesses, we feel our business is still innovative. In the discussion forum an InnovateND, a participant came up with this idea:

"At the end of the competition each year, make available the list of participants who submitted Idea Plans that didn't make the top 20. Add a word or two along side the name of each plan to describe it's category and state if the plan has a web site. I believe this list should be made available for review by any or all corporations, investors, etc. that partnered with Innovate ND. This would provide them with the option to make their own judgement of a plan that interests them and could eventually end up benefiting both parties..."

I thought I would bring this idea to fruition, although I extended the dialogue to every participant, finalist or not. I will update the information as more businesses and participants respond.

Enjoy and please remember that the people behind the businesses are North Dakotan's who want to benefit the state and feel they have a worthwhile business opportunity set in the great state of North Dakota. If you know someone or a group of someone's interested in funding or investing in North Dakota businesses, please take advantage of the contact information below.

And the Businesses are:

Name: Jessica Rosencrans

Business: The Big Day: Wedding and Event Consultations

Website: In Progress...

Email: jrae_01@yahoo.com

Phone: 701-599-2493

Description: Provider of wedding/event consultations, planning, and management.


Name: Dwight Kinzer

Business: Quasar Energy LLC

Website: In Progress...

Email: process@fmtc.com

Phone: 701-356-0754

Description: Quasar Energy, LLC introduces revolutionary technologies that provide both efficient and environmentally friendly hydrocarbon resource recovery. These patented innovations provide discriminate and selective temperature increases of targeted constituents residing in hydrocarbon-bearing formations by implementing robust controls of radio frequency dielectric heating.


Name: Marty Jorgenson

Business: Patented Hunting Invention

Website: Upon request...

Email: jorge@minot.com

Phone: 701-838-5198

Description: Patented Hunting Invention. Website available upon request.


Name: Micheal Goehring

Business: MRG Diversified LLP

Website: In Progress...

Email: mrg_div@live.com

Phone: 701-830-9985

Description: The Knineacizer is an exercise wheel for dogs. The product is a large
"hamster wheel" that allows dogs to run at their full potential safely. The product is designed to take up a small space and provide dogs with limitless exercise. Target consumers would be those with energetic dogs living in urban settings
with limited space.


Name: Barb Scholler

Business: Global Gifts Galleria

Website: In Progress...(globalgiftsgalleria.com)

Email: barbscholler@yahoo.com

Phone: 701-795-0352

Description: Fundraising products (unique flexible PVC keychains/magnets, trading pins, notecards, coffee mugs, golf balls, embroidered clothing, etc) with original colorful flag designs for heritage club fundraising events nationwide. 20 countries available. Items can be sold point of sale at heritage festivals (such as Hostfest in Minot, Folklorama in Winnipeg, etc) or via a color brochure that participants share with family and friends. Clubs will profit from online orders when the purchaser selects their club as the recipeint. Countries include: Ireland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Cuba, Puerto Rico, China, Japan, Scotland, etc. Licensing opportunities for the four designs each of 20 countries are being sought for products sold at tourist gift shops abroad. Designs can be customized for family reunions, clan gatherings (Irish-Scottish), and tour operators/destination specialists to specific countries.


Name: Kim Wilson and Bob Steers

Business: Face Cradle Insert

Website: www.facecradleinsert.com

Email: kimwilson@gra.midco.net

Phone: 701-775-2854 or 218-779-7910 (Bob's cell) or 701-330-3072 (Kim's cell)

Description: Comfort products for Spa and Massage Therapy and Chiropractic Treatments


Name: Dr. Larrie Wanberg

Business: Blazing Trails.us

Website: In Progress...

Email: Lwanberg@yahoo.com

Phone: 701-757-0200

Description: The history of North Dakota (ND) is rooted in the trade trails by “entrepreneurs” in search of independence, commerce, and technologies over hundreds of years. Blazing Trails addresses the six challenges of ND University Systems to implement entrepreneurship at grass-root community levels. A dynamic web-portal is re-opening the stories of these historic trails and connecting to global village markets with hand-crafted art, music, legendary stories, Native foods, heritage gifts, and a model of micro-loans/macro-commerce.

Name: Dr. Larrie Wanberg

Business: EcoEarth.us

Website: In Progress...

Email: Lwanberg@yahoo.com

Phone: 701-757-0200

Description: Eco-Earth.us is web-portal for eco-trade products and an eco-tour service to promote North Dakota to national and international markets as a leading producer of natural and renewable resources in the Nation. Mutual benefits are exchanged by importing tourism dollars and exporting organic, “green,” and environmentally-friendly products that are advanced by research, knowledge and experience. Marketing streams to world-wide markets through I-Tunes casting to cell phones, pod-casting via computers and satellite radio to I-pods.


Name: Thomas A. Hill

Business: Dusty James Music

Website: In Progress...

Email: dusty@polarcomm.com

Phone: 701-520-0745

Description: Create and sell music teaching curriculum and sell it on the Internet.


Name: Chris and Karen Gehrig

Business: Red Barn and Berry Farm

Website: www.redbarnandberryfarm.com

Email: karen@redbarnandberryfarm.com

Phone: 701-388-3589

Description: The Red Barn and Berry Farm is a unique and upscale reception destination and u-pick and pre-pick organic raspberry farm to the greater Fargo-Moorhead (F/M) area on 40 acres located in the sand hills of Kindred, a 30-minute drive from Fargo and Moorhead. The organic raspberry farm will supply our area with fresh berries in addition to berry products such as jam, jelly, syrup, etc.


Name: Zach Green & Brian Fransen

Business: ZEEB Farm Equipment

Website: In Progress...

Email: brian.fransen@und.nodak.edu, zachary.green@und.nodak.edu

Phone: 701-391-5330 (Brian) 218-686-1185 (Zach)

Description: Farm equipment that helps self-sufficient farmers get jobs done quicker and safer. One is for flat-bottomed bin unloading the other for hitching equipment.


Name: Elisha A. Portra

Business: Dakota Green Force

Website: In Progess...

Email: eportra@grenergy.com

Phone: 701-442-7057

Description: Design, build and manufacturing company of green and environmentally sound products.


Name: John Witzke

Business: MadKnuk Enterprises LLC

Website: www.hockeyshotsgame.com

Email: madknuk@bis.midco.net

Phone: 701-258-6462

Description: The Ultimate Hockey Shooting Game...the only hockey shooting game.


Name: Nathan Anderson

Business: NoDak Films

Website: www.nodakfilms.com

Email: info@nodakfilms.com

Phone: 661-703-8485

Description: Production of feature length digital films in and inspired by North Dakota using North Dakota musician's, individuals, towns, businesses/products, topics, land, resources, technicians and actors.

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On to something... 
My wife, kids and I live in an apartment complex full of student families from all over the US and the world and most have children. It’s an interesting little world to call home for the time being before we get back to North Dakota (my wife is in Graduate School). We have some friends who live down the street from us. The wife in this couple is from Minneapolis and attends the Graduate School for Journalism.

As is customary, with friends and neighbors, I explain NoDak Films to all of them and weave my pride for North Dakota into as many conversations as I can. The other day I was having a conversation with the Minneapolis woman on a bus, which worked great for me because the ride was a good 20 minutes and we were going to the same location so she had to listen and she graciously did that. I explained NoDak Films in detail: our goals, what makes us unique, our fundraising model, the use of North Dakotan’s in every stage of production, etc…

After a good 10 minutes of filling her with the NoDak vibe, her eyes widened slightly and she told me that major newspapers would eat up a story like NoDak Films. She said they love “stories of the heartland” and she said she could even envision herself writing a story about NoDak Films. Essentially, she thought we were on to something and I agreed whole-heartedly. In fact, when I started NoDak Films, I assumed and still assume that we will make national news with our first film. I’m in the habit now of emailing North Dakotan’s telling them we are going to make history with our first film and they can be a part of that history.

I’ll say it again now, via our ground breaking question:


A film that is not only funded by North Dakotans, but uses North Dakota actors, North Dakota extras, North Dakota musicians in the soundtrack, artwork, land, topics, resources, businesses by way of product placement, towns, and state pride.

For $100, you can help make history...

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InnovateND and the NoDak Films Idea Plan 
Last November 2007 NoDak Films enrolled in an entrepreneur competition called InnovateND. The competition focuses on business ideas who want to locate their business in North Dakota and are generating less than $1million in revenue. The key is a creative and innovate business idea i.e. NoDak Films.

The first level of submission was a two page Executive Summary. After NoDak Films Executive Summary was submitted, we moved on to the second round and began drafting an Idea Plan, which is "the story" of NoDak Films told in a business-kind-of-way.

Also, as a result of enrolling in the program, which to me felt like taking an online course on entrepreneurship, we were provided a lot of materials to help write our idea plan. I felt and feel that even if we did not advance to the finals, the experience was completely valuable to me.

Long story short, we did not advance to the finals of the InnovateND competition. Although disappointed, we are still obviously moving forward and still believe NoDak Films is a very innovative idea.

The reason for this long-winded explanation is because I am making our Idea Plan available to you. Simply click on the related link tab below to view our idea plan.

And feel free to respond.

Click on the "related link" tab below to view the Plan

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The Wire... 
Every Wednesday my wife and a few classmates have dinner at a professor's house for an Advanced Policy Analysis class. The other week she was lent the Season 1 box set of a series called The Wire from her professor.

The last week-and-a-half my wife and I have watched the entire Season 1 box set and I've never been more struck by a show. The Wire is amazing and every other adjective and synonym that goes along.

The series is set in Baltimore and tells a lot of stories about a lot of different things. I could obviously go into more detail, but the details are so much better coming through the television or The Wire as it were.

The show's creator David Simon was once a police reporter for the Baltimore Sun Times covering the crime beat and The Wire plays like the reality Simon must have experienced. I picture it like Western movies where the main character or the main character's chief opponent has a writer alongside to document the stories. David Simon is that writer and The Wire is his contemporary main character.

This past Sunday on HBO, the series final episode, after only 5 seasons, aired. Because my wife and I are taking the series in order, which I think is a necessity, who knows when we'll get a chance to watch the last episode. For anyone who hasn't seen one episode, take a look at this show.

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Digital vs. Film 
I watched this video and it presents a lot of valuable insight into the world of digital filmmaking. The guy being interviewed is Brad Rushing. He is a cinematographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He has worked on ad campaigns for clients such as McDonald’s, Coors, NASCAR and the National Football League, and photographed music videos for Joss Stone, Moby, Eminem, Britney Spears, among many others.

The cinematographer or film photographer or director of photography are interchangeable terms and refer to the person in charge of how a film is represented. Think of it this way: A script is written and ready to go before the camera. The director makes sure the actors move and say their lines with the utmost precision. The cinematographer makes sure the movie camera moves and talks with the utmost precision.

Make sure to click and move the volume bar on the bottom right of the video to hear it.

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This past weekend the two premiere film award shows aired. The Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday and the Academy Awards on Sunday. I watched both and in them found the middle ground I hope may emerge and shape into a third premiere film award show.

Weird-for-the-sake-of-being-weird VS. Black-tie-mainstream-marketing-machine

Weird-for-the-sake-of-being-weird - Independent Spirit Awards

The Independent Spirit Awards was edgy, informal and highlighted films whose budgets were under $20 million. I found the following selection guidelines the nominating committee applies to make selections:

• Uniqueness of vision
• Original, provocative subject matter
• Economy of means (budget at or under $20 million)
• Percentage of financing from independent sources

The second guideline strikes me, "original, provocative subject matter". My wife often classifies independent films as full of freaks and weirdoes. I tend to agree especially in terms of NoDak Films. I think of a typical North Dakotan and the types of independent films that take original ideas and douse them with provocative subject matter. These films are not North Dakota films and even though I consider myself an extremely open-minded movie watcher, even I am a little uncomfortable by the subject matter. I think it is great that filmmakers have the freedom to explore their own inspirations, but my inspirations and tastes come from different circumstances and backgrounds and so I am not drawn into provocative subject matter.

I'm not saying all independent films are on provocative fire, but most lack the sensibility most moviegoers expect.

I watched a documentary recently about the 2004 Presidential election called "So Goes the Nation..." In the documentary they play close attention to Ohio a week prior to the election. An older man and locals are interviewed talking about all the attention and the campaigners flooding in. The next shot follows a bus down an Ohio road and on the side of the bus is written "Celebrity Express". Inside the bus are A and B list Hollywood actors being prepped on their campaign roles. The film spends a couple minutes on the actors and eventually comes back to the older man who was interviewed at the beginning of the segment. He describes the actors as fake and Hollywood and how a mid western audience sees them as such.

Black-tie-mainstream-marketing-machine - Academy Awards

All Academy Award nominees are invited to exclusive luncheons, fashion shows and other black tie affairs and Motion Picture companies lobby and campaign heavily to get their films noticed by Academy members who cast votes. I compare the scenario to a buddy of mine who just finished his medical residency and is now on his way to doctor at a hospital in Bismarck. After his third year of residency he was able to write prescriptions and I joked that he would be eating a lot of comped steak dinners. There are just under 6,000 Academy members that choose Award winners and I'm sure there are a lot of comped steak dinners towards the run up to the Academy Awards show -- I have no proof, I am being completely speculative.

According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), in 2006 the average Hollywood Budget was $65.7 million dollars and marketing costs, per picture, totaled $34.5 million. Amazing! MPAA also said 607 films were released in 2006. The inflated budgets and inflated marketing costs total $608,820,100. The MPAA takes its data from all MPAA member companies. In 2006, there were 6 member companies -- 6 companies.

Like most things in Hollywood, the Academy Awards, to me, seem just as secretive as the back lots where films are made and although the public is consuming the product, we are also left wondering how a movie becomes Oscar worthy. Despite the sealed envelopes of the Academy Awards or the edgy antiestablishment rhetoric of the Independent Spirit Awards, one movie struck me and it won an award at both shows.

The film is titled Once. According to its distributor, Fox Searchlight Pictures, the film tells the story of a street musician and a Czech immigrant during an eventful week as they write, rehearse and record songs that reveal their unique love story.

The film won best foreign film at the Independent Spirit Awards and best song at the Academy Awards. More impressive is the story of the making of the film, which has been summarized by writer-director John Carney in an often-quoted statement:

"This is amazing to start making films for a hundred grand with your mates in Dublin and not have any permits."

What I found amazing, at the Oscars, was when the songwriters accepted the award. There was this energy of shear impossibility that made the moment and their speeches sound surreal. It got to the point that as one songwriter spoke and finished and as the other was about to say her thank yous, the microphone went silent and the music started. Jon Stewart, the Oscar host, brought her back out so she could have her moment. As I watched and listened, I felt hope and also anger. Hope that every good movie made, despite the budget, has a chance at Oscar. Anger because the energy in the room looked upon these two songwriters as one who looks at a puppy - like 'how cute'. It doesn't take $65.7 million dollars to create a profound, amazing, worthwhile, classic film from acting to music to direction, production, and all phases of the film making process.

I don't think it's "amazing" to make films for a hundred grand and that's why I feel a third premiere show will emerge that simply looks at hundred grand films like hundred million dollar films. With the exception that hundred grand films can have the same mainstream qualities seen at the Oscars with the independent spirit still in tact.

This is NoDak Films and we represent the emergence of such a movement.

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Deja Vu... 
I was sitting in a cafe today working on the Idea Plan for the second round of the InnovateND entrepreneur competition when a bout of deja vu came over me. In this moment of clarity I found myself listening to the soundtrack to our first film, which was connected to my earphones, connected to my itunes.

An empty cup of coffee stood in the upper middle of the small table, where I sat, with the end of a plastic knife sticking from a plastic coffee lid. Paper's were scattered around the rest of the table, along with my computer and a copy of Prairie Business Magazine. A young woman was sitting next to me. In this moment of deja vu, the young woman leaned over and touched my arm because, in my deja vu thought process, she was interested in the music coming from my earphones. In deja vu actuality, she only wanted me to turn down the music. The latter never happened because as soon as I played the particular song that triggered the deja vu I, in reality, turned down the volume before she could react.

Despite a lack of sanity in the above observation, the moral is my interpretation of deja vu. I was once told that deja vu is a confirmation of your life up to that point. In effect, deja vu is the act of showing you that you should be doing that particular thing at that particular moment in your life. The fact this moment occured while working on the Idea Plan for NoDak Films for a North Dakota entrepreneur competition puts me at ease with the course of my life and the course of NoDak Films.

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Prairie Business Magazine and NoDak Films... 
In the December Target Marketing issue of Prairie Business Magazine, NoDak Films received a brief introduction by editor Rick Killion in the article "Marketing Support, Success Comes in Many Forms." Mr. Killion writes:

"A North Dakota filmmaker named Nathan Anderson is marketing film productions from western North Dakota through his Website."

Our films are not entirely "from western North Dakota" although western North Dakota, like all of North Dakota, will be a part of our productions.

I would like to think Mr. Killion for introducing NoDak Films to the Prairie Business World and for those who do not subscribe to Prairie Business Magazine (it's free by-the-way), it is a great magazine and a necessary window into the "prairie perspective."

Click on the "related link" tab below to view the entire article.

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My letter to National Geographic and Mr. Charles Bowden (Round 1 of 3) 
Mr. Bowden,

Your article was haunting and written beautifully. If I was not from North Dakota, I would file the recurring image of a lonely house stationery against the surrounding grassland along with every other article written about North Dakota. But, as a North Dakotan, I would then walk off my brother-in-law's acreage of spring wheat or peas (depending on the year) and the old schoolhouse his father once attended (rather than tearing it down it was left as a memento). And then walk about half a click to my sister's house and play ball with my two nephews or talk with my niece about the same kids my nephew's know.

There will come a time when my two nephews and my niece make a decision and there will come a time when my sister and brother-in-law make a decision (although I'm pretty sure my oldest nephew will take over the farm, I can't write an article on behalf of him, it's just a phenomenon that goes without saying). As a North Dakota journalist recently said, "it's a single frame in a full-length movie" and no one knows the outcome.

"The Emptied Prairie" is part of the deleted scenes package in the full-length movie of North Dakota. Not because the scenes you chose to depict are entirely false, but because it's only a single frame that's already been covered.

Here's what I mean: Last summer my wife, two kids and I lived in Minneapolis because my wife was the summer associate at a Public Health Institute and I was networking through my business, which is set-in North Dakota. We lived next to a 5 story elementary school that had just closed. At the playground near the school, congregating with other parents and children, I discovered the area of Minneapolis where we lived was once a neigborbood of single family homes. However, as life happened and children grew and moved on, so did the parents. The neighborhood became a place where college kids rented out rooms. A place where children once grew and families once dominated. And this, Mr. Bowden, is 5 minutes from downtown Minneapolis. This, in a city whose Metropolitan area is nearly 3,000,000 strong, yet I lived next door to a 5 story schoolhouse where the students would not return in the fall. Where the larger-than-life-size wooden plywood statues painted by the children would go unattended.

The disadvantage for North Dakota is we are NOT a needle in a haystack. We are a state in the union who feels the death of all of it's members like a great American novel whose pages are torn out, but the novel is always rewritten with the beautiful, frustrating and inevitably promising backdrop of our state.

Let's not overlook the place in your article Mr. Bowden where you highlight that backdrop:

"reeks...in place of...stab...eroded...rarely visited...swallows..."

These were some of the words chosen for the most encouaging part of your article. The full paragraph reads below:

"The ground itself reeks of life, the endless sweep of grassland and wheat fields, cattle feeding in place of buffalo. South of the Missouri River, the Badlands stab the eye with bands of color rippling through the eroded slopes. North Dakota is a rarely visited state and surely one of the loveliest and most moving. The land swallows anyone who walks out into it."

2,130 words in your article about North Dakota Mr. Bowden and only 7 of those words offer any light to an otherwise dismal portrayal -- "one of the loveliest and most moving" -- which is a paradox because you didn't have the guts to go further into your own soul and find the strength and promise that comes from your so-called "vanishing world".

North Dakota won't allow someone to grow up prematurely, but your article Mr. Bowden is proof that someone can write in such a way.

Thank you for listening...


To view the article click on the "related link" tab below.

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Cinematography vs. Authenticity... 
I was reading the local paper’s film section and they had a heading titled “Industry Buzz”. In it they focus on the cinematographer for the new Coen Brother’s movie “No Country for Old Men”, Roger Deakins. Definitions differ on the role of a cinematographer, mine included because I prefer an example to illustrate the role. Mr. Deakins was also the cinematogrpher on the recent “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” starring Brad Pitt. He said this:

“Most of the sets were built on location with the backgrounds in mind…the farm where Casey Affleck’s character is arrested had to be set in a certain way to get the angles we wanted, looking at the hills, the gap in the trees. It’s quite specific, so we spent a lot of time searching for locations that would be right for those shots.”

He goes on to say, about his role as a cinematographer:

“I…try to get across that [emotional] quality in visual terms. It’s a challenge to make an image have a mood without a performance in it, where there’s no dialogue. You try to create an image that resonates with somebody else. That’s the thing you’re aiming for.”

I’ve always been fascinated by the role of the cinematographer and feel the role should receive as much attention as the director and Mr. Deakins own insight is the best definition I have read.

One area of the article I also found interesting was the choice of shooting locations for both “No Country For Old Men” and “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” The article says:

“For ‘No Country’ Deakins and the Coen Brothers scouted the Texas border towns where…the novel is set. Then they found similar locations in New Mexico and filmed there because of the state’s substantial tax rebates.”


“Deakins and writer-director of [The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford] Andrew Dominik filmed in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg, Canada.”

To me it’s unauthentic to shoot a western in Canada and shoot a blatant Texas film in New Mexico. It would be interesting if the US adopted a uniform pricing structure for all 50 states when it comes to shooting a film. This would open up the market for all states and add a level of authenticity to the setting of the story. Or not, movies are movies and the fact “No Country For Old Men” was shot in New Mexico has no bearing on it’s seeming authentic Texas setting. I doubt many people watched the film and thought, ‘Hey, this isn’t Texas, this is New Mexico.’

A place like North Dakota could benefit from authenticity – insert NoDak Films and we feel such a movement is already in the works. Not just great films, but great films with purpose, which interpreted means great North Dakota films set in and inspired by North Dakota.

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