Filming of 'Wilson' a screen test for Minnesota's movie industry

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For the first time in six years, Minnesota is serving as a Hollywood movie set.

"Wilson," which stars Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern, began filming in the Twin Cities area in June and its producers are giving a thumbs-up to the locations and the local talent they've found, WCCO reports.

Favorable reviews are important in the effort to make such productions less rare in a state which last hosted a major movie when the Coen brothers made "A Serious Man" here.

“It sort of signals that we’re back,” Minnesota Film and TV Board executive director Lucinda Winter told WCCO.

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"Wilson" also gives the local industry a chance to show Minnesota policymakers the value of landing a Hollywood feature film.

The movie's producer, Mary Jane Skalski, told news outlets Tuesday that Minnesota's "snowbate" program, which reimburses film companies for up to 25 percent of their production costs, was a major factor in the decision to make "Wilson" in the Twin Cities.

MPR News reports that after the Legislature cut funding for the program, Minnesota saw movies such as "Gran Torino" and "Juno" head elsewhere.

The Star Tribune reports that by the time it's done, "Wilson" will have used more than 50 locations around the Twin Cities – ranging from the Washington County jail and Mancini's Char House to Como Town and Mall of America.

Producers say a majority of the film's crew members and acting talent were hired locally. Spending is estimated at $6 million, meaning up to $1.5 million could be returned to the filmmakers through Minnesota's rebate, the Star Tribune notes.

Minnesota is apparently getting some nibbles in its efforts to land another project.

The Film Board's Winter tells MPR they're going after a television show. She also tells the Star Tribune Duluth is being considered for a project, with a scouting trip planned for next week.

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