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What's New
Innovative Thinking... 
I listen to National Public Radio a lot, enough to know and look forward to the next day's broadcasts. A few weeks ago I listened to a show called “Forum” hosted by Michael Kransy. The show’s next day topic was titled “Innovative Thinking” with the tagline:

“Neuroscientist Greg Berns joins us to discuss the human brain and innovative thinking. He says our brains normally constrain original thought. How do innovators buck the brain's lazy habits to eventually overturn conventional thinking? Bern's latest book is "Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently."

The next day I listened attentively and actually got a chance to ask a question on air. I asked Dr. Burns if the most important thing in an Iconoclast was the perception or the selling of that perception.

Dr. Burns clarified that there are three criteria in the Iconoclast:


Fear Response

Social Intelligence

which I take as:

Perception -- Innovative idea or as Dr. Burns uses, "someone who tears something down and puts something in its place"

Fear Response -- "the fear of a new idea, uncertainty and failure"

Social Intelligence -- "you still have to convince a number of people about the merits of your idea" OR “we all have to operate within the confines of a particular thought structure and even if you discover something great you still have to convince other people about it.”

I put NoDak Films into this category.

The perception is that with digital technology, the doors of perception regarding filmmaking have yet to be harnessed and comprehensively utilized to the same effect that NoDak Films is trying.

The fear response is my fear that NoDak Films will fail, that I am taking on too much with our goals and I am uncertain that North Dakotan's will embrace such a concept even though we have many North Dakotan's on board right now.

I feel I have social intelligence, not only in my belief that the films we will make will be great for North Dakota, but also for the people, business, towns, musicians, actors, artists, and really anyone involved with the process.

My issue is really a combination of the fear response and social intelligence because I have to convince nearly 2,000 North Dakotans to contribute $100 each. This process brings me the least amount of joy, the most amount of anxiety and fear and is the wall that I need to climb last.

In the many conversations I have had with many people about NoDak Films, I always go back to the same mantra that I have echoed well before I heard Dr. Burns say it:

"Put yourself in circumstances that make you uncomfortable"

I am extremely uncomfortable making calls and essentially selling NoDak Films, but I know that once that wall is scaled, I can use the experience on every level of NoDak Films throughout the rest of my lifetime. I grew up in North Dakota, I know North Dakotan's and I know that when I finally convince nearly 2,000 North Dakotan's to contribute $100, I will be able to sell NoDak Films to the rest of the country and the rest of the world.

Click on the "related link" tab below to listen to the entire broadcast -- I only touched on a little of what was said and I found the entire broadcast worthwhile

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The United States of Mind...an article 
The Wall Street Journal published an article the other day titled:

The United States of Mind: Researchers Identify Regional Personality Traits Across America

The article focused on the "geography of personality" on a state by state basis using the "Big Five Inventory" model:


The article goes on to say, "while the findings broadly upheld regional stereotypes, there are more than a few surprises." North Dakota is one of those surprises.

"And what of the unexpected finding that North Dakota is the most outgoing state in the union? Yes, North Dakota, the same state memorialized years ago in the movie "Fargo" as a frozen wasteland of taciturn souls. Turns out you can be a laconic extrovert, at least in the world of psychology. The trait is defined in part by strong social networks and tight community bonds, which are characteristic of small towns across the Great Plains. (Though not, apparently, small towns in New England, which ranks quite low on the extraversion scale.)"

Juxtaposed with...(near the very end of the article)

"Yes, North Dakota and Wyoming rank quite low in openness to new ideas. But why label them narrow-minded and insular? Say...they value tradition."

What strikes me and has always struck me about North Dakota is how we are referenced in a lot of articles -- it bothers me and this article takes the same liberty (based on title alone!):

"Yes, North Dakota, the same state memorialized years ago in the movie "Fargo" as a frozen wasteland of taciturn souls."

129 years of history is reduced down to a movie that has nothing to do with Fargo, let alone North Dakota; made by a couple Minnesota born filmmakers that spend the entire film in Minnesota. I have a book called Independent Feature Film Production and in it the author uses Fargo as an example in the casting section. The example illustrates a script breakdown of the movie where a bold faced "NOTE:" requires that "all actors must be able to speak in a Minnesota dialect". This is North Dakota's sound-bite, but it doesn't have to be. The study considers North Dakota the most outgoing state while directly opposing that view in the next sentence because of a movie -- this is why NoDak Films exists.

The second mention of North Dakota brings up another part of the research that has North Dakota ranked "quite low" in openness to new ideas. Peter Rentfrom, the author of the study, "suggests, that [North Dakotans] value tradition." I believe we value patience, which is not so much a tradition, but a pace that won't allow one to grow up prematurely, at least in my experience. I grew up near a farm, not on one and I know my nephew (about to turn 13) has an awareness born from the land around him.

I believe NoDak Films is in stride with the article because I don't want Fargo to be our sound bite and I want North Dakotans to be more open to new ideas. Both of these are a hybrid that will bring North Dakota into the second decade of the 21st Century through great films -- great NoDak Films, where great Films live.

Click on the 'related link' tab below to view the article.

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Actions, words, and Farm Rescue... 
My wife was giving the kids a bath the other night. I was sitting on the couch and feeling unmotivated, which has been the case this summer between our 2-month-old son August, our 4-year-old son and 21/2 year-old daughter, my part-time job as a Resident Advisor, music, and NoDak Films -- the former taking up more time than I'd like away from the latter, but in the end NoDak Films will benefit from the added income.

Anyway, my wife called me away from a Cubs game and into the bathroom. On the floor next to her was an open magazine.

"Read this," she said, pointing to an open page.

'Get the Look: Summer's Hottest Shorts, Get a leg up on the short shorts trend with these star approved pieces.'

I told her my shorts were fine and she told me to turn to the next page. The page was really a two-page photo spread of a man standing in the middle of North Dakota farmland. The title of the article stuck to the top of the page:


The man in the field is Bill Gross whose non-profit Farm Rescue (www.farmrescue.org) "has helped some 60 farmers in the Dakotas and Minnesota." Mr. Gross grew up on a farm in North Dakota, graduated from UND's aviation program and took a job with UPS, but North Dakota never left him and he "vowed" to come back and help.

After reading the article; 1) I felt lazy and 2) Inspired. Like Mr. Gross, I want to come back to North Dakota and help. I am not making a direct comparison between NoDak Films and Farm Rescue, but the need to come back to North Dakota can be strong in those who have left and Mr. Gross came back with a purpose as necessary and innovative as the "neighbors" that preceded Mr. Gross and his own experiences as a farm kid.

I grew up near a farm, not on one and at this point I should write more about the philosophical comparisons between NoDak Films and Farm Rescue. Mr. Gross has taught me however that actions speak louder than words.

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Charles Bowden (Round 3 of 3) 
On April 9th, 2006 an article by Richard Rubin appeared in the New York Times titled "Not Far From Forsaken." Although the title sounds alot like Mr. Bowden's "The Emptied Prairie," -- 'Not Far' is a lot farther from the 'Emptied Prairie'.

Mr. Rubin ends his article by writing:

"But folks who are nostalgic for Small Town America might want to consider taking their next vacation in northwest North Dakota, where, if they visit soon, they can see such places before they disappear forever, where they can walk the streets and chat with the few folks who remain and drop in on quaint little establishments like the Centennial Bar in Grenora, where they happen to serve excellent hamburgers. Get one while you still can."

Mr. Bowden ends his article by writing:

"Something is ending here that no one ever saw coming. There is nothing to be done: It is simply the acting out of an economic reality. It is hard to watch. Yet it is impossible to look away. In Alkabo, the two-story public school still stands, fully equipped with trophies, musical instruments, and books. The students have long gone. The neighboring baseball field is named Field of Dreams. Just south is Writing Rock, where two stones bear prehistoric drawings. The native people said the rocks could tell the future, but then scholars took one stone away for some years. Since that time the stones have been mute."

Contrasting ends to contrasting articles, yet as I re-read Mr. Rubin's article the other day I noticed a picture: An old house in the background and a frozen carcass on a piece of cardboard in the foreground separated by an empty stretch of grass covered in snow. I went back to to Mr. Bowden's article and noticed a similar picture: An old house in the background, but instead of a frozen carcass, a skeleton remains. The empty stretch of grass is the same, but the season has changed.

The place in both pictures is the same and what's even more interesting is that 2 years ago the same place was already documented and Bowden felt it necessary to come back and try to add an unneeded obituary to a place that isn't even dead -- using a photo that was essentially used two years ago in a different article about the the same area of North Dakota.

They say a picture paints a thousand words, but what about the same picture nearly two years later, about the same area, in another article with a different "ending"? Should I be mute as the stones suggest or get me one while I still can?

It's been written Mr. Bowden, the pictures have been taken and the interviews recorded. You took a beautiful painting and painted over it twice -- each time reducing its value to almost nothing. You still have your words however and you can leave them at home next time you visit North Dakota.

To view "Not Far From Forsaken" click on the "related link" tab below.

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Charles Bowden (Round 2 of 3) 
I went back and read Charles Bowden’s article to refill my senses with the “robin’s egg blue kitchen” of North Dakota’s past because I believe in second chances and maybe I read his article “The Emptied Prairie” with a bias bent too cynical. Then I scanned the first paragraph and remembered the “tempest” he created with words like:

“empty plains…lurches away.. wild yard… the white bones of a deer bleach in the sun… litter…stands watch by the long-dead coal furnace...abandoned…two old cars rust…moan of the wind…vanished barn…ghost towns stud North Dakota…empty house is just one bone in a giant skeleton of abandoned human desire.”

As I wrote this post, the news that Tim Russert died solemnly came on the TV. I’m going to use Mr. Russert, his love of country, of family, of journalism and compare the spirit he embodied with the spirit of North Dakota and use those forces to make sense of Charles Bowden and his second visit to North Dakota.

I would ask Mr. Bowden if Mr. Russert abandoned his life when he died. A resounding ‘No’ would come from Mr. Bowden, probably followed by some choice words. Then I would ask Mr. Bowden what he meant when he said in his National Geographic article, “[the] empty house [in North Dakota] is just one bone in a giant skeleton of abandoned human desire.” What Mr. Bowden meant by the “willful amnesia in North Dakota.” What he meant by writing, just a few sentences from the end of his article: “Something is ending here that no one ever saw coming. There is nothing to be done: It is simply the acting out of an economic reality. It is hard to watch. Yet it is impossible to look away.”

Dying is not for the dead and the dead are memorialized through the honor of having lived by the people who loved them in life, who knew them in life – a stranger can feel the same strong emotions, but no stranger will write the obituary or prepare a speech at the funeral. When it comes to place, one gains the necessary soul to memorialize after having the benefit of living there, but the place remains and memories are recycled – a stranger can feel the same strong emotions, but no stranger will write the obituary or prepare a speech when the town decides to vote itself out of existence. First off, Mr. Bowden is a stranger, secondly he wrote an obituary about a place and people that still exist, thirdly the only "ending" Mr. Bowden has watched in North Dakota is a sunset and lastly Mr. Bowden has not earned, nor shall he ever earn the necessary soul to memorialize a place like rural North Dakota. It seems like Mr. Bowden came back to North Dakota to offend North Dakotan’s, not to defend his article. In his second visit to the state Mr. Bowden called us “fools” and “willfully dishonst and illiterate” and saved his harshest critique for our Governor followed by all North Dakotan’s, "I don`t know about your governor, I haven`t met him, but I guarantee you I can hand [The Emptied Prairie] to a 10-year-old in Arkansas, and they`d read it, and they`d perfectly understand it. If people in North Dakota can`t reach the level of a 10-year-old in Arkansas, I don`t know what to say."

Mr. Bowden wrote an article filled with 2,130 words about a topic that was not saved for him, yet he treated the “adandoned human desire” of North Dakota as though he were a native son or profound colleague or a loved one to the state that reared him – all of which he is not. Mr. Bowden tried to write an article shaping rural North Dakota’s seeming vanishing act without living a life that allowed those words to take shape. Mr. Bowden then proceeded to come back to North Dakota, after the ghosts of his article responded with a Person of the Week appearance on Good Morning America, and piss on our proverbial grave…

There is a simple saying that goes “don’t eat yellow snow.” I take the phrase a step further and say “don’t believe yellow journalism.”

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NoDak Films on North Dakota Public Radio... 
Although the interview is from last October, the dialogue is a great window into NoDak Films. I do say, in the interview, that our fundraising goal is June 1st, 2008. We will not reach that goal, but with your help we can reach it soon.


Bringing ND to the Silver Screen

FARGO, ND (2007-10-19) A Plaza, North Dakota native...has launched a project to bring film making back to the state.

Prairie Public's Todd McDonald has details...

© Copyright 2007, NDPR


Above is the write up from the NDPR website under Prairie Region News from last October. I would like to thank Mr. McDonald for taking the time to interview me and North Dakota Public Radio (NDPR) for broadcasting the interview.

To receive the same contribution packet that US Ag Secretary Ed Schafer received, ND Ag Commissioner Roger Johnson received, former ND Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp received and the many other North Dakotans have received as $100 contributors -- it's as easy as a click of a button on the "Your Moment" for individuals/families, "Your Business/Product" for businesses, or "Your Town" pages of this website.

Please click on the "Related Link" tab below to listen to the interview.

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InnovateND finalists' and winners... 
Below are the list of finalists' from this year's InnovateND competition. The 5 winners are in bold, italicized print.

Dennis, Jeremy, Brent and Dale Lura, West Fargo: Lightning Strike Roller Screed. The Lightning Strike Roller Screed is a device for leveling concrete and has the ability to be customized to any size pour. Dennis and Dale have been in the construction and general contracting industry for over 35 years. Jeremy has over 10 years experience in metal fabrication and sales while Brent is a 2003 graduate of UND with a background in construction.

Eric Hansen and Joe Allen, Grand Forks: Zeaterz.com. Zeaterz.com makes ordering food online easy, fast and secure. The website allows users to create an account, browse local menus, place an order for the items they select and Zeaterz.com sends the order directly to the restaurant for them to deliver to you. Hansen and Allen are both students studying entrepreneurship at UND with fields of expertise in finance and marketing.

Matthew Maurer, Benjamin Olson and Brian Tande, Grand Forks: Armxx, LLC. Armxx brings a new standard for protective equipment in sports by allowing athletes to perform at much higher levels. Athletes will experience an increase in mobility coupled with a decrease in the size and weight of their gear due to technology that eliminates restrictive materials. Maurer is a senior at UND studying entrepreneurship, Olson is a 2007 UND accounting graduate, and Tande is a Chemical Engineering Professor at UND.

Brian Fransen and Zach Green, Grand Forks: ZEEB Farm Equipment. ZEEB Equipment offers practical equipment to provide a safer, more efficient environment for farmers working alone. Green and Fransen have over 25 years of combined farming experience. Green is originally from Standquist, M.N., and a 2007 UND graduate with a major in Business Management. Fransen is originally from the Coleharbor, N.D., area and a recent UND graduate with a major in Business Management.

Everette Blaisdell, Grand Forks: Barberstop, Inc. Barberstop is a fully functional, self-contained barber station that can be placed wherever a 110 volt plug-in is found. Blaisdell has been a barber for 28 years and founded his idea of Barberstop in 2004 after he was forced to relocate his business to a ladies’ restroom after the 1997 Grand Forks flood.

The Waterspike is a water conservative irrigation system focused on meeting the needs of the consumers’ demands while saving water and money.

Gayle and Dennis Mischel, Springfield, V.A.: Unmanned Products and Services. Unmanned Applications Group will develop a multi-division consulting and technical services company with the primary focus on the commercialization of UAVs and their related technologies. Gayle has 25 years of experience in commercial property and casualty insurance marketing, sales and underwriting. Dennis has 25 years of experience in Navy and OSD unmanned systems and targets programs.

Ganapathy Mahalingam, Gayatri Ganapathy and Rajeev Kalra, Fargo:
Digital Design Solutions. Digital Design Solutions is a provider of on-demand, ready-to-use, parametric, digital design components for professionals such as architects, interior designers, landscape architects and urban planners. Dr. Mahalingam is an Associate Professor of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at NDSU and has 22 years experience in the field. Dr. Kalra is Professor of Finance at MSU-M and owns and manages the chain of Camelot Dry Cleaners plants and stores in the Fargo-Moorhead area and Gayatri currently serves as the Secretary of the Indo-American Association of the Great Plains.

Matthew Lendway, Shannon Pearson, Florent Martel and Mariusz Czarnomski, Grand Forks: Machine Visionaries, LLC. Machine Visionaries is a high-tech digital avionics company that designs and integrates mid-air collision avoidance systems for Unmanned Aircraft (UA). Martel is originally from Paris, France, and is a UND electrical engineering graduate student.Pearson holds an MBA and BBA in marketing and entrepreneurship. Lendway is a UND electrical engineering graduate student and Czarnomski is a UND junior electrical engineering student originally from Poland.

Scott Ault, Darren Olafson and Brad Driscoll, Reynolds: Slow-N-Tell. Slow-N-Tell illuminates the brake lights on moving vehicles based on the rate of deceleration of the vehicle. Ault has 24 years experience in the automotive industry as a former Snap-On tool dealer with many contacts in the trucking industry. Driscoll is an ASE Master Truck Technician with over 30 years experience in the trucking industry. Olafson currently runs his own appraisal business, is an integral part of his family’s farming, ranching and construction business, and serves on five community service committees.

Dan and Kristin Hughes, Wilton: Dogs for Defense Inc. D4D protects life and property using highly specialized detector dogs to locate hazardous mold, illegal narcotics and explosives. Dan is an expert in detector dog training. Kristin is a trained educator with a Master’s Degree in Education. Dan and Kristin have two children.

Brad Feldman, Bismarck: Bismarck Baseball Club. Bismarck Baseball Club’s vision is to start a summer college baseball franchise in Bismarck. The baseball club will give people in the area a chance to enjoy baseball and allow ballplayers to showcase their talents. Feldman is currently the business reporter for KX News in Bismarck.

Chao You, Michael Lindbo, Shirui Wang and Zhou Zhao, Fargo: Dakota
Structural Monitoring
. Dakota Structural Monitoring consists of a device that is capable of monitoring whether structures such as bridges or airplanes are deficient or structurally sound. You is an assistant professor at NDSU in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Wang and Zhao are NDSU electrical engineer graduate students, and Lindbo in an NDSU senior majoring in accounting.

Ernie and Gail Brookins, West Fargo: Brookins Hybrid Drive System. The Brookins Hybrid Drive System utilizes hydraulic technology and air accumulators to store and use the wasted energy of motor vehicles. Ernie has over 45 years experience in the transmission and hydraulics field while Gail has assisted Ernie with accounting, sales and marketing for over 45 years.

Zelda Hartje and Georgia Rice, Cavalier: Hotel Rendezvous. The goal of Hotel Rendezvous is to be a 30-unit quality lodging facility located in northeast North Dakota that features expected and unexpected amenities. Hartje and Rice are sisters by chance and business partners by choice. Hartje is a semi-retired English teacher and Rice is a human resource manager for an engineering firm in Minneapolis.

Mike and Cheryl Peterson, Finley: Stack It. Stack It is a platform rack for agricultural equipment to create more storage area for other farm equipment and/or grain in buildings. Mike and Cheryl farm near Finley, N.D., and have 44 years of combined experience and 24 years experience as custom harvesters in the upper Midwest.

Welton and Lori Cochrane, LaMoure: Gallery Foods. Gallery Foods is a line of packaged and frozen stuffed foods beginning with hamburgers stuffed with various ingredients including bacon, cheese and vegtables. Lori has 13 years management experience in the grocery business, while Welton has 13 years experience in agriculture parts retail management.

Kim and Jim Wilson and Bob Steers, Grand Forks: Face Cradle Insert, Inc. The Face Cradle Insert solves a problem of a client “falling through” the standard face cradle apparatus during massage or any therapy treatments while lying in the face down position by suporting the head, neck and facial areas in a differnt way. Kim Wilson is President of Face Cradle Insert, Inc.; Bob Steers is a Licensed Massage Therapist and owns Body Balance Therapeutic Massage Center, Inc. and Vice President of Face Cradle Insert, Inc.; and Jib Wilson is the sales manager with over 20 years experience in sales.

Marvin and Ilene Baker, Carpio: North Star Farms. North Star Farms is a certified organic greenhouse in northwestern North Dakota that will produce organic fruits, vegetables and seedlings to supply to a rapidly expanding organic industry. This pioneer greenhouse will be designed with the 21st century in mind by operating on renewable energy sources. The Bakers started North Star Farms in 2004 and in 2005 founded North Star Farmers Market. They joined North Prairie Farmers market as one of the founding members in 2006.

Brian Bestge and Chad Ekren, Fargo: AdNow. AdNow is a digital signage that allows end users to view advertisements on LCD screens located in various businesses. AdNow is made up of three main components: indoor advertising, retail advertising sales and digital content design. Bestge currently owns and operates Studio 7 Productions and Advertising Production Company in Fargo, and Ekren owns and operates Ekren Media, a multi-media company also in Fargo.

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That is the Soul... 
Man Becomes Machine. The summer’s first two blockbusters provide glimpses of the future of movies.

Is the title of the article in the most recent Time magazine’s Arts: Movies section written by Richard Corliss.

The article refers to two films: Speed Racer and Iron Man. The article is an ode to technology and films’ adaptation of the “finest toys imaginable...”. Fair enough, technology is a brilliant thing and films will inevitably capture and release the “dazzle” or as Richard Corliss puts it, “the texture is the text,” which I interpret as bling. The US has turned into a culture of bling and film is no exception. The makers of Speed Racer had to reinvent the wheel when it came to the special effects used, using terms so glowingly introduced by Corliss like “Photo Anime Film Format”, “Designer Shape De-Focus”, “Infinite Depth of Field”, “Bling and Superbling Flare Enhancements” and “Candy Inspired Techno Color”.

Bling – Photo Anime Film Format
Bling – Designer Shape De-Focus
Bling – Infinite Depth of Field
Bling – Bling and Superbling Flare Enhancements
Bling – Candy Inspired Techno Color


I’m not a fan of bling. Never owned bling. I still prefer an acoustic guitar and a songwriter where I can hear every word of every lyric and know there was no bling attached to the vocals.

Corliss, in his prologue to the future of film, quotes Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. In capitalized letters, Corliss states on behalf of Whitman:


Corliss then proceeds to justify Whitman's quote as though it were inspired by the technology of the time, which happened in the time of Edison’s movies and the transcontinental railroad. ‘I Sing the Body Electric’ is a section from Whitman’s Leaves of Grass that introduces, titles, and builds from the previous section like a wave of tingling sensations through the body.

Singing the body electric is a tribute to the natural impulses of the body, not a sound bite in an article about technology and special effects.

The irony is that Corliss used the quote in the wrong context of film technology because what film technology has actually done is allowed and will allow as Francis Ford Coppola once said “the fat girl from Kansas” to tell her story and where “professionalism will be destroyed.”

Coppola said this over 20 years ago, but professionals still control the industry and why destroy that. Instead, “building a better machine” as Corliss puts it, is a way to brainwash the audience into believing that such a feat is only done by professionals and costs just as much. When amateurism crosses with the technology of today down the road towards tomorrow then professionalism in film will be reborn into the next future controlled by film professionals that will sing another tune penned by journalists who once listened to the oldies new.

Technology in film today allows you to celebrate the kind of film you want, when you want, how you want. The level of work required in the making is completely up to you.



Corliss ends his article writing:

“If you watch [Speed Racer], are overwhelmed by the assault of seductive visual information and wonder what you’re seeing, here’s the happy answer: the future of movies. We sing the movie electric”

The purity of a super hero like Iron Man is lost in the article to the bling of Speed Racer, yet both are fused into the future of Richard Corliss’ wave of tingling sensations.

My sensations tell me that the very sensations that move me can also move in front of a digital camera and the 2,000 special effects of Speed Racer represent 2,000 North Dakotan’s that will have the special effect of seeing themselves or their business or the small town they grew up in, in a movie.

That is the Soul…

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A dream... 
I had a dream the other night I was back in my hometown just off a gravel road just North of 23 between 37 and 28 at the local ice cream/burger place where you can order at the window.

The town was different. The roads didn’t go to the places I remembered in my youth. At one point I asked if they had moved the church to a different location and someone said,

“The church didn’t move -- you did.”

I started talking to the Tastee Freeze owner about NoDak Films. I had sent her an email sometime back and she never responded, but looked eager to continue the dialogue. As we talked, I skirted around the issue of her contribution and then finally said.

“So do you want a contribution packet?”

She said, “I’ve been waiting for you to ask. Of course I’ll contribute the $100 bucks.”

I remember walking back to the place where I stayed, which resembled a boarding house and there was a mess hall full of sandpaper North Dakotan’s eating a full breakfast. I had a dirty pink messenger’s bag (I remember the color because it made me feel uncomfortable, not because I felt effeminate or because North Dakotan’s are homophobic but because the men knew I had just arrived from the Bay Area and the bag represented the punch line before anyone could make the joke). I made a comment about the bag that made all the men laugh and quickly brought me into the dialogue again.

Then I left…

By that time our 4-year-old son crawled into bed waking me momentarily. The rest of the dream was lost, which I assume will come back during production.

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The Budget and the Creative Process -- a conversation... 
Had a great talk with a guy the other night. A smart guy who is a classmate of my wife’s. We got to talkin about NoDak Films, in depth. This guy, who is Australian, was an investment director for Australia bringing business to the continent so I listened intently because one big goal of NoDak Films is to bring business to the state of North Dakota.

Our conversation gravitated toward the business end of NoDak Films, specifically the fundraising strategy. The one thing I appreciate most about good conversation is honesty. After I finished explaining the concept, we talked around a bit and then he sat there and he said,

“Can I be honest with you mate?”

“Of course.” I said.

“I don’t think it’s gonna work,” he said.

Then we talked for an hour about his comment, which I respected and respectively disagreed with. He said I should raise the budget by asking a few (and by few he meant 5) North Dakotan’s to invest tens of thousands of dollars into our first film. He said if the goal is to make a film, then raise the money through a few investors and make it. He believed that nearly 2,000 North Dakotan’s would not contribute $100 each and be an identifiable part in a movie set-in and inspired by North Dakota (he's never been to North Dakota).

After hearing him out I told him why he was wrong; in so many words (this is taken from the NoDak Films Idea Plan):

Uniqueness is the best competitive advantage and there is nothing comparable to NoDak Films or our first film in the marketplace. NoDak Films first film is classified as a drama. According to Nash Information Services since 1995, 20% of all Hollywood movies have also been classified as drama and those films have gone on to gross nearly $11 million dollars a picture.

NoDak Films found 33 similar movies in terms of budget made since 2000 on Box Office Numbers.com. Those 33 films went on to gross nearly $47 million dollars or over $1.4 million dollars per picture on average.

The film making process is not unique to NoDak Films, genre is not unique to NoDak Films and the budget is not unique to NoDak Films, but the value of our films is. It’s one thing to buy a movie ticket, and it’s a completely other thing to buy your way into a movie. Nobody, but NoDak Films:

• Takes a cooperative style approach to the film making process

• Diversifies film genre set in and inspired by a state – our state being North Dakota.

• Raises a film budget using our unique fundraising model

• Positions the consumer and the merchandiser in the product by way of our background actors/actresses and our product placement.

• Uses local musicians, art, towns, technicians, land, resources, and actors along with individuals and businesses creating a comprehensive North Dakota advertisement under the guise of a great film.

We are taking the positive momentum of everything that is North Dakota and distributing it onto film: Musicians ((distribute)) Art ((distribute)) Actors/Actresses ((distribute)) Crew ((distribute)) Budget ((distribute)) Towns/Cities ((distribute)) Businesses ((distribute)) Land ((distribute)) Essence ((distribute)).

I told him to imagine a typical DVD package (plastic case, DVD sleeve and DVD inside). I told him we are going to take all that positive momentum and shove it into that DVD so the viewer is not only getting a good movie, but a good North Dakota movie or like I've said before -- a North Dakota advertisement under the guise of a great film.

He tried separating the budget from the creative process. I feel that the budget is part of the creative process because the budget reflects the kind of movie I want to make. 5 investors with $40,000 each is much different then 1,889 contributors with $100. He called the effort grassroots and I suppose, technically, our approach could be labeled as such. I, however think our approach is a cooperative style reality that flows seamlessly with the kind of films NoDak Films wants to make.

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