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Camera crew filming 'In Winter'

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Unlike the proposed "Duluth is Horrible" short film, "In Winter" director Alex Gutterman says he wants to reveal the sometimes underappreciated beauty of industry and winter in northern Minnesota.

Gutterman and co-director Aboubacar Camara were filming at a number of Cloquet locations last week, after shooting in Superior and Duluth the previous week.

"What we're doing is 'Duluth is Beautiful,'" Gutterman said during a break from filming last Thursday. "It's not about romanticizing it. It's about 'Look and find the real beauty.'

"Look at this," he said, gesturing from a vantage point overlooking Sappi Fine Paper and Jarden Home Brands and the massive stacks of wood that sit behind the match factory. Steam was curling out of the stacks at both industries in contrast to a bright blue sky and the brown and white landscape of bare deciduous trees in winter.

"This is beautiful, this is industrial glory that people don't necessarily know about," added Camara. "We want to go in there, in depth and find them."

Gutterman describes the proposed feature length film as a "tragic love story" that he's hoping will make the film festival circuit as an independent art film.

In a previous interview with the Pine Journal, he remembered the exact moment he decided he wanted to shoot in Cloquet instead of the Iron Range.

"That road down by Sappi, the moment I turned that corner, I saw the steam, that long road, I said, 'I want to shoot here,'" he said, adding that he sees Cloquet as an "anywhere industrial town."

Camara - who was born in Guinea and raised in France - came on board as co-director last summer.

On Thursday, he and Dan Fitzpatrick were filming the lead character, Annika (played by Nora G-O'Brien), simply looking out over the paper mill and match factory and river beyond, panning the camera in wide shots across the landscape.

Other Cloquet locations for the film include the Frank Lloyd Wright gas station and Cloquet Laundromat, Northeastern Hotel, the VFW hall, Black Bear Casino Resort, Underground Aquatics and Zoey's Boutique, local homeowners, Carmen's, as well as several other locations within the city.

The film's soundtrack will also feature noises Cloquet residents are familiar with - the hiss of steam, interior sounds like the furnace coming on - plus a soprano, who will represent the voice both of the soul of Annika and the soul of winter "crying out," Gutterman said.

Although filming has begun, Gutterman said they are still looking for an older American Indian woman to play Annika's grandmother, noting they will also be doing a casting call for extras at some point in the near future. Josh Terway of Cloquet is on the camera team as well.

"Our experience with people here has been really genuinely positive," Gutterman said. "We know how arrogant and entitled camera crews and film people can be. We like to think our attitude is 'This is your space. Thank you for welcoming us and what can we do to be respectful of your place.'"