Off the Record: New Ulm getting its chance in front of the camera in March

Off the Re

I suppose it doesn’t get any more “Hollywood” than “doing lunch” with a film producer/star, but that’s what I was doing last week with David Rysdahl.

David is the son of Dr. Scott and Gigi Rysdahl of New Ulm, who is vigorously pursuing an acting career. He actually lives in New York, not in Hollywood, but he has been doing a lot of film acting, mostly in independent films and shorts. He’s known for his work in independent films like “Black Swell,” “That’s Not Us,” and “The Revival,” but he’s also appeared in two episodes of the TV series “Bull,” playing a recurring role as the once and future boyfriend of the hot computer chick. (What cop or court drama these days does not have a hot computer chick?)

David said the Bull people wanted to write him in to another episode this season, but he was busy shooting a movie in Shanghai called “Dead Pigs” which should be coming out this year.

But catching up with David, who attended Cathedral High School with my son Matthew and appeared in plays directed by him and my wife, Marijo, wasn’t the main purpose of the lunch last week.

David and his girlfriend, actress Zazie Beetz, who has appeared in the TV series “Atlanta” on Netflix, are working on their own movie productions, and that will be bringing them to New Ulm in March.

David is planning on shooting a movie in New Ulm in March. It won’t be a fake movie about New Ulm shot in Winnipeg, like “New In Town,” but it will be shot right here, using New Ulm locations and even some locals as extras.

David is about halfway through raising the financing needed. It’s not a big budget film by industry standards, only about $500,000.

“I’ve been pitching it to investors,” said David. A lot of them are people he has worked for and done favors for, and now he’s calling in those favors to help get the movie shot here.

“Some of the investors wanted me to shoot it in upstate New York, because of the tax benefits, but I’m insisting it will be shot here.”

It’s an original screenplay he and Beetz are writing, about a man (Rysdahl, of course) who has a 13-year-old daughter who pretends to have cancer. Her non-custodial father is hooked into the ruse, and he brings her back to his hometown (New Ulm) where his mother is pastor of a small church. The church gets caught up in the story, raising money for her and building community support, but it all threatens to come crashing down.

David cautions that there may be some similarities to himself and his family, but it’s really not autobiographical.

There is a lot of work to shooting a movie, and David is hoping to get the community involved as much as possible. He’ll be looking for people to help host actors, since he doesn’t have a budget for hotels. His own parents will be vacating their house for the month to allow him and others working on the movie to move in.

He’ll have production managers and logistical people getting things ready for when the shooting starts in March.

It may not have the budget and star power of “New In Town” with Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr., which royally ripped off the New Ulm name, but it will give New Ulm a chance to really hit the silver screen.


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