In name only

It’s a movie titled ‘Cottonwood,’ but it wasn’t filmed nearby, but close enough — a young filmmaker has filmed a movie in his hometown and it stars an SMSU student

Submitted photo Dalton Bristow, assistant director, left, Ethan Clerc, director, and Tylan Porath, boom operator, film Eric Hanson, Kyle Antes, and Greg Lunn in River City Eatery in Windom.

There’s a new movie called “Cottonwood,” but Cottonwood residents shouldn’t get too excited. The writer and director of the movie, Ethan Clerc, didn’t know about the city of Cottonwood until after he made the movie. The film is named after Cottonwood Lake in Windom, and it is a stand-in for the city of Windom, a city southeast of Slayton with a population of about 4,600.

There is a local connection, however — the lead actor in the movie, Kyle Antes, attends Southwest Minnesota State University.

Antes and Clerc have been friends for a long time and for fun they made YouTube videos. Starting at around 16 years of age, Clerc has written, directed, and edited over 120 short films. At age 20, Clerc already has made four feature-length movies.

Antes graduated in 2015 from Windom Area High School, a year earlier than Clerc.

Antes plays a police detective in this movie. Last year he portrayed a high school student.

Antes plans on graduating this spring with a degree in marketing. He is open to further acting jobs and/or working behind the scenes with Clerc or in the entertainment business in general.

“Whatever the opportunity is, if something came up with Ethan or whatever I would definitely do it,” he said. “I enjoy working in the entertainment industry.”

Antes can be seen in the “Cottonwood” trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnGXSTN-F9Q&t=2s.

“Cottonwood” is Clerc’s most ambitious movie to date.

“We raised $6,200 back in March online and then filmed the movie from June to August,” he said.

Windom residents were very accommodating to the young filmmaker.

“They let us film in the hospital, local restaurant and offices,” Clerc said.

The local law enforcement drew the line at filming inside their offices so Clerc had to recreate an office cubicle.

That wasn’t the only obstacle Clerc had to leap over. At the last minute his other lead dropped out of the movie saying he couldn’t commit the time to the summer-long shoot. Clerc’s dad, Rick Clerc, recommended Greg Lunn who has participated in community theater in Windom.

“He jumped on board,” Clerc said of Lunn. “I owe him so much. It’s a big time commitment and a lot of work.”

Lunn plays a detective who comes out of retirement to help a young cop fresh out of the academy (Antes) solve a string of unsolved murders.

The film is set to premiere in Windom on Jan. 6 at the Business Arts & Recreation Center theater, which has 650 seats.

“We almost sold out my last film in the same theater,” he said.

The approximately one hour, 40-minute film will be shown at 7 p.m. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the BARC in Windom or at the door.

All proceeds from the premiere will be used to help gain exposure through film festivals, Clerc said.

He plans to enter the film in the Twin Cities film festival, one in Fargo and in Wisconsin and “go from there.”

Clerc got interested in films from his grandfather, Wes Clerc. Clerc and his brother, Colin, would visit and watch movies.

“He had a huge collection of movies on VHS from the ’80s and ’90s,” Clerc said.

Clerc said his favorite directors are Martin Scorcese, David Fincher and Steven Spielberg.

He learned about how to make a movie from watching YouTube videos.

“About camera angles,” he said.

Mostly he learns from doing.

“When I make a mistake, I learn from it,” he said.

Clerc is currently a sophomore at Columbia College in Chicago, but said he is dropping out after this semester to pursue film in the Midwest.

“Why end up with $200,000 in loans when I can be doing it instead of learning how to do it?” he said.

Clerc’s earlier films, “Mousetrap, “Mousetrap II” and “Sundog,” can be rented or purchased on Amazon.com.

For more information about “Cottonwood,” visit http://www.cottonwoodmovie.com.

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