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The harsh realities of pumpkin filming

Posted at 5:58 PM on August 23, 2007 by Euan Kerr

Ryan Foss and Bill Nagel

Ryan Foss and Bill Nagel consider their filmmaking habit as a hobby. However when they made a film about Ryan's dad Bill, and his penchant for growing huge pumpkins they have found themselves with an unlikely hit on their hands.

"Bill's Big Pumpkins" follows the older Foss through a growing season as he aims to win the Minnesota State Fair title, and to set a new state record.

They've joked that perhaps their next movie should be about paint drying, or maybe grass growing. However the film has drawn praise as they dig into the strangely co-operative world of competitive pumpkin growing. It's made an unlikely hero of Bill Foss who comes off as low-key at first, but as the film progresses displays his deep understanding of the plant, and in particular pumpkin, world.

In fact the problem Ryan and Bill had was, after shooting 90 hours of material, including footage from running four time-lapse cameras set up around the pumpkin patch, an over abundance of good stuff. Being just a two man production team they had to do all the logging and editing themselves.

The result is a really entertaining 90 minutes, but now they face another challenge: getting it seen. "Bill's Big Pumpkins" has had a couple of successful screening in the Twin Cities and several elsewhere. In fact it recently took second place for best documentary feature at the Land Locked Film Festival in Iowa City.

Ryan Foss admits he knows little about the distribution business, but he and Nagel are now learning fast. They are investigating the possibilities of public TV, and then may look at direct DVD sales.

They explain their challenges in an interview which aired today and is well worth a listen.

August 2007
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