OWATONNA — “Lapham Rising,” a movie that has been filming in Owatonna for the past few weeks and features actors Frank Langella, Stockard Channing, and Ashley Benson, is nearing completion.
The production should essentially “wrap” after Saturday, with Monday-Wednesday merely utilized for “B roll,” said Hamid Torabpour, a producer of the movie. After this film concludes, “we go right into the next one,” “Outbreak Z,” which will star Wesley Snipes.
Like “Lapham Rising,” Torabpour hopes to film as much of “Outbreak Z” in and around Owatonna as possible, and his discussions with Snipes have been “awesome,” he said. “He’s so nice, so kind, super-helpful.”
Snipes is also an executive producer on the zombie film, which will be directed by “Daredevil” fight choreographer and stunt performer Chris Brewster, according to Deadline. Peter Wise is producing, and executive producers include Hamid and Camille Torabpour, as well as Dr. Mark Smith and Patrick Werksma. Hamid Torabpour is also one of the writers, along with Clint Narramore and Andrew Kightlinger.
“Outbreak Z” is the latest in a string of films from Torabpour’s Winter State Entertainment, and he’s made shooting locally a priority, including with “Lapham Rising.” The cast and crew have been pulling lengthy shifts this week to finish the production, filming from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. one day and 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. on another.
“People think movies are glamorous, but this is hard work,” Torabpour said Thursday night. “This is a long one (and) a big one.”
In the film, Langella portrays Harry March, a retired writer whose life starts to unravel when a multimillionaire begins building a mansion across from his quiet island home in the Hamptons, according to Deadline. March had been living contentedly alongside his dog, Hector, who speaks to him, but March develops bitter opposition to the mansion.
The film is “an amazing character study,” according to Dr. Mark Smith, a producer on the project. The goal is to take “Lapham Rising” to the 2020 Sundance Film Festival Jan. 23-Feb. 2, where Smith believes “it’ll do well.”
The majority of the crew is from Minnesota, Denver, and South Dakota, and “we had about 100 extras out here” Wednesday night, Torabpour said. “We get our extras through” an agency in Minneapolis.
The main foe on this shoot has been inimical weather, Torabpour said. “It’s the things you can’t plan for.”
For example, the entire backyard of the house they were using as March’s mansion flooded, he said. In addition, “we lost half a day” when a sudden thunderstorm struck Tuesday night while they were filming scenes on the Pillsbury campus.
Despite those weather-related setbacks, Torabpour is thrilled to bring movie productions to the local area, and “Lapham Rising” isn’t the only Winter State Entertainment production to use Owatonna for filming.
“Brother’s Keeper,” based off a 2010 book of the same name by Chad Mitchell, the chaplain of the Abilene High Eagles, and Al Pickett, a radio announcer for Abilene’s games, shot for several days in Owatonna last summer before moving down to Texas for the rest of filming, and a pair of music videos for songs in the film by “American Idol” alumnus Bucky Covington and Dominic Bonsignore, a Dallas-based rap recording artist known popularly as Harmini, were shot here earlier this month. In addition, “Summertime Dropouts,” based on the anthemic first album, “Rewind,” by the titular Minnesota band Summertime Dropouts, shot in Owatonna last summer.