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Springfield to Hollywood: Film Production in Missouri (Part 2)

This week, we’re exploring the film industry in Missouri. Today we present part two of a three part series, focusing on two New York filmmakers who recently finished shooting an independent film right here in the Ozarks. KSMU’s Brett Moser reports.

In the lobby of Hilton Branson Landing, film director Debra Granik chats at a small table with one of her producers. With only a few days left to film her movie’s final frames, the two exchange last minute production notes. Granik shuffles back to her hotel room, travels up five floors, and brings a number of tapes back to the lobby – all in time before the equipment trucks leave.

In the world of film, there never seems to be a free moment, even in Missouri.

Granik is the director of the film Winter’s Bone, which recently completed filming in the Branson area.

The film is based on the novel by Ozarks author Daniel Woodrell, Granik says she and producer Anne Rosellini co-wrote the adapted screenplay.

The story centers around Ree Dolly, a 16-year-old girl who takes care of her two brothers and mentally disabled mother. Ree’s father is arrested for cooking meth and uses the family home as collateral to post bond before skipping town. Ree is faced with the challenge of either finding her father, or being thrown out into the winter cold. Granik says Ree’s determination drew her to the story.

Since the story takes place in Missouri, Granik says the Ozarks region was the only option they considered for a filming location. She adds that capturing the accents as well as topography of the Ozarks was key to the narrative and visuals for the film.

Winter’s Bone producer Anne Rosellini says that the decision to shoot in Missouri was based on more than just the story. In terms of financing the film, Rosellini says she and Granik were prepared to forego big tax incentives in order to keep the story genuine.

Rosellini adds that a number of states shared similar scenic elements with the region. However, the filmmakers did not want to “fake’ the Ozarks, thus most of the primary filming took place near Forsyth Missouri.

Before production started on Winter’s Bone, Rosellini says she had never been to Missouri. When filming began earlier this year, she says the production crew was met with a warm reception from the local government and residents.

The Missouri film tax incentive program requires that a certain percentage of the cast and crew must consist of local and state residents. Rosellini says this not only helped their production, but the people of the area as well.

Director Debra Granik says her experience of Missouri exposed her to a somewhat new approach of looking at filmmaking.

After filming wrapped up, the Winter’s Bone crew traveled back to New York, to edit the final film and eventually launch the film’s run on the festival circuit. The filmmakers hope to return to Missouri once the film is finished for a local screening.For KSMU News, I’m Brett Moser.