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RHS grad calls action on filmmaking dream

Ben Zschunke, center, is pictured with co-writer/director Brett Price and director of photography Spencer Goodall. They will work this month on The Polar Bear Club, a feature film Zschunke co-wrote.

On Feb. 6, somewhere in the area of Chisago, Minn., Ben Zschunke will start the process of making a dream come true.

That’s the day filming was scheduled to begin on his first feature film. And while the 12 or so days ahead will often be cold, long and sometimes difficult, Zschunke is excited to get going.

Zschunke graduated from Rosemount High School in 2007 and attended college at the University of North Carolina School of Arts. He wrote the script for the film, called The Polar Bear Club, with a friend several years ago and will serve as co-producer. Funding came from both a Los Angeles-based production company and from more than $15,000 collected in a campaign on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter.

The film focuses on a group of elderly men who get together regularly to jump into a frozen lake. On one outing, one of the members has a heart attack and dies.

“It’s about the later years in life and trying to figure out what your life means and the legacy you want to leave behind,” Zschunke said.

For Zschunke, life has been leading to this moment since he was in fifth or sixth grade. That’s when he realized making movies was what he wanted to do for a living. It’s how he answered any time anyone asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up.

“I like storytelling,” he said. “I like being able to make your imagination jump out onto a page and eventually go up on screen.”

After graduating from college in 2011, Zschunke moved to New Orleans, where he has been doing freelance video work on commercials, music videos and short films. This will be his first attempt at a feature film.

Zschunke said it was fun to watch donations come in on the Kickstarter page. He spent a lot of time spreading the word to friends and family. He pushed the project on Facebook and Twitter and everywhere else he could think to promote it.

Zschunke and co-writer/director Brett Price hope to enter the film in festivals when it is finished, including Sundance in Park City, Utah, and South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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