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Nearly 1000 catch Arnolds Park movie premiere

Sioux City Journal

Original Article »

July 21, 2007

OKOBOJI, Iowa -- Screenwriter James Kreitel thinks Thursday night's world premiere of the motion picture "Arnolds Park," which was filmed largely in Arnolds Park two years ago, was a huge success.

"I didn't expect to see this many people turn out. We were a bit pessimistic after a long journey," he noted at the cast party that followed the premiere at the Cinema 7 Theatres. Producer Patrick Nelson estimated 800 to 1,000 people saw the premiere shows.

"We apparently succeeded with teenage girls. They seemed to like it. That was our focus audience. They're the ones who go to the movies," said Kreitel, who began writing the script as a high school student two decades ago. "Overall, people laughed when they were supposed to laugh. And they reacted the way they were supposed to react."

Producers Nelson, Jillian Nodland and Gene Teigland also succeeded with at least one almost-teenage boy, Logan Endres, 11, who attended the premiere with his 8-year-old old brother Gabe, and their grandparents Diane and Joe Endres, of Spirit Lake.

While many in the crowd termed the show "awesome," young Endres explained, "It was all good. And the ending was a surprise."

Young blonde co-star Maitland McConnell, who portrays Jackie Newmar in the film, also impressed the sixth-grader.

"When we asked for her autograph, she asked us if we would have our picture taken with her," Endres said. "Usually people ask for pictures with actors and actresses. But she asked us. That was really neat."

Before she watched the first screening, Karen LaCour of nearby Lake Park, Iowa, said she has "lived here all my life. If it's not right, I'll tell you."

Afterwards she admitted being a bit prejudiced about anything Okoboji-related, but said the movie "made Arnolds Park shine."

After seeing herself on-screen as an extra, Samantha Forsyth of Estherville said she "loved it. Of course I loved seeing myself."

Not everyone gave it rave reviews. Dan Booker, who worked at the amusement park during the filming, was seen as an extra in several scenes. Booker said he was disappointed in his film debut.

"There's more of me on the cutting room floor than there was on the screen," he said.

Spirit Laker Carl Klein said he thinks someone who is not from Okoboji "would really get into this (picture) and get a good impression of the area. It's good for Okoboji. It's fun. People got to party tonight, see a movie, and get a poster autographed."

Local entertainer Christopher Jon, who was an extra in several scenes with a different shirt and different wife in each, thought the show was put together well.

"As an extra you never know what the movie is really about," Jon said. "But this was neat and good for Arnolds Park. I hope people come and see us."

Jim Detmar, who has been working on stage and in front of the cameras for more than 25 years, played the role of amusement park owner Bobby Delano, and commented he thought "the cinematography was great, and the young actors took their time. One thing about young actors is that they often rush things. But this was much more subtle. There were some great moments."

One of the not-so-great moments of the movie is when Detmar (Delano) is shot and killed in a ruse to expose the mayor. "It was way over the top," Detmar explained, adding the scene took at least six takes. "It was so ridiculous, especially after watching it so many times."

After five days of shooting in Arnolds Park, in late summer of 2005, the movie was finished at several locations around the Twin Cities.

The restaurant in the opening scene is the Diamond Cafe in North Minneapolis. Rossi's, the restaurant owned by Bobby Delano in the film, is Rossi's Steakhouse & Tavern in downtown Minneapolis.

And the "Lake Okoboji" home of the county prosecutor is actually on White Bear Lake.

Teigland, who directed and edited the production, said his next step involves raising money for another film. "It was a huge task to get this far," he explained at the cast party, held at Bridges Bay.

The producer-director noted he sees a lot of potential for filmmaking in the Midwest. "The Midwest has long been neglected by film-makers," who set their scenes mostly in place like Los Angeles and New York, "instead of aiming for Midwesterners who want quality entertainment."

Screenwriter Kreitel said he regrets missing an opportunity to pay tribute to the late Steve Kennedy in the film. "It's one of those things that just got lost," he said of Kennedy, the first Captain of the Queen II excursion boat and curator of the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum. Kennedy died of cancer in 2002.

"(Kennedy) was most helpful and pleased to see a film in Arnolds Park's future," Kreitel said. "He said he had long waited to see a film about the area. We may be able to include a note about Steve in future releases or on the DVD."

"Arnolds Park" will continue to run at the Cinema 7 Theatres for at least two weeks, according to Nelson, who added he doesn't want to run it so long that area residents won't want to see it in their hometown theaters before an anticipated national release this fall.

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