‘Remember Minnesota’ set to start filming in the spring

The film’s focus will be the 1987 University men’s crew team.

Amber Kispert

In 1987, Brad Melby began his college career at the University’s General College without high expectations.

His life changed when Melby followed “Vanessa” – a creative portrayal of Jessica Vanderscoff – a coxswain for the University Minnesota Men’s Crew Team, to a recruitment meeting, where he soon joined up.

where to go

Remember Minnesota
What: A movie about the 1987 men’s crew team is being made.
For more information, go to www.rememberminnesota.com

By season’s end, the University crew team was short of rowers and underfunded -having only five members and receiving no University funding because it was a club sport.

Despite its shortcomings, the University crew team placed third in the finals at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association’s Championship Regatta, where they overcame more bad luck as their boat was destroyed during practice.

“It was like losing one of your teammates,” said Tom Altenhofen, a member of the 1987 team and current head coach of the rowing club.

If it weren’t for the donation of a boat by Brown University, whose team ultimately took home the second place award, the University would not have been able to compete.

“You can’t help but think, this would be a really cool thing to see on screen,” Melby said.

That’s exactly what Melby decided to do with the help of John Carroll Lynch, an actor, producer and screenwriter. That’s when the movie, “Remember Minnesota,” took form.

“It’s an amazing story, an against-all-odds victory that is part of the University’s history,” Lynch said.

Lynch is best known for his roles as Drew Carey’s brother on the “Drew Carey Show” and Roy Gunderson in the film “Fargo.”

Director Mikael Salomon has already signed on to direct “Remember Minnesota,” which is slated to start filming this spring.

Salomon has taken the helm for several miniseries and television shows, including “Band of Brothers,” “Alias” and “Rome.”

“If done right, it’s ‘Rudy’ on water,” Melby said. “Nobody gets tired of that kind of film.”

Melby said he hopes to film most if not all of the film here in Minnesota.

“We would like this to be as accurate to the time and place as we can be,” he said.

The movie began its life as a story Melby told in passing.

“I told the story to anyone who would listen,” he said.

Then one year in the early ’90s, Melby, who is a financial adviser, began working for Brenda Wehle, Lynch’s wife.

Lynch commented to Melby about the head of an oar decorating his wall. Melby then told Lynch the story of his experience on the crew team.

“This ragtag club crew team goes up against some of the most elite teams in the nation, and wins one of the country’s biggest intercollegiate rowing events,” Lynch said. “It cried out to be a movie.”

Three years passed before Lynch and his writing partner, Tess Clark, went to work on a screenplay for Melby’s story.

With Salomon as director and Melby, Lynch and Clark as producers, the crew went to work on raising funds for the film.

Susan Austin is in charge of the media and investor relations for the film.

“We are reaching out to individual investors, many of them Minnesotans, who have an interest in supporting the arts,” she said.

“Remember Minnesota” is being funded entirely by private investors.

Finding funding for any

movie requires a lot of effort, Austin said.

“But when you have a winning and true story with themes like commitment, teamwork and passion Ö talking with potential investors is a whole lot easier,” she said.

In the coming months, the movie crew will begin auditioning actors for the film.

“We have a dream list prepared, and when it’s appropriate we will approach those people on that dream list,” Melby said.

Only one or two well-known actors will appear in the film, Melby said, since the majority of the cast will have to be 19- or 20- year-olds.

They might even look in Minnesota for their actors.

“The TV, film, theater community here in the Twin Cities is amazing,” Melby said. “There’s a tremendous amount of talent here.”

Lynch will be taking up the role of Melby’s father in the film, in addition to his screenwriting and producing responsibilities.

The goal for the film is to be released in theaters nationwide in 2009, Lynch said.

“It will be, we hope, a love letter to the U of M, Dinkytown and the University experience, with its power to transform,” he said.