Silver Bay native Scott Thun has been acting in various theatrical productions since he was in high school.
After he graduated, he acted in the Twin Cities, even moving to Los Angeles for a while before moving back and joining the family insurance agency. But his latest role was filmed not too far from home.
Thun has a small part in the ecological thriller "Strange Nature," set in Duluth. "Strange Nature" tells the tale of a woman who returns to her hometown to take care of her sick father, but finds herself involved in a ecological mystery when mutated frogs are discovered.
The film was written and directed by Duluth native Jim Ojala, who had a goal of filming entirely in Minnesota.
A casting call went out through the Minnesota Film Board. Lake Shore Community Theater Director Paul Deaner took note and forwarded the call to Thun and others.
"I just went in and auditioned for it and they cast us," Thun said. "It was pretty easy."
The call and the audition took place a little over three years ago. Thun recalls filming near a cabin in Grand Rapids.
Thun was cast as an Iron Range sheriff who meets a grisly end. He and his deputy have an encounter with a wolf.
"It was a very small part, but a lot of fun," Thun said. "They had a mechanical wolf that they had on rollers who approached me and then they had a completely separate head and shoulders of a wolf, which they actually attacked me with."
It only took one take, which might have been for the best, as Thun said he was soaked through by the end.
"The mechanical wolf had a tube going into its mouth that was connected to a tank, which was filled with blood. So while I was being eaten and screaming, this blood was squirting out of this wolf at me," Thun said. "It was just spraying everywhere. By the end of that take, I was absolutely just sopping wet."
Thun never saw a script - only his scene - so when the movie premiered in Duluth a few weeks ago, he wasn't entirely sure if he'd show up on-screen.
"I thought, considering that the beast was killing us in front of the main character, we'd be important enough not to cut. But you never know for sure until you're sitting there watching it," Thun said.
Thun attended the premiere with a few other Silver Bay actors who were cast as extras. The scene they were in ended on the cutting room floor.
"Which was unfortunate, but they did talk about it when the directors and producers did a question-and-answer period afterward," Thun said. "The director said, 'Hey, for any aspiring filmmakers out there, really go through your script and cut down everything and anything that isn't absolutely necessary and germane to keep the movie flowing.' He said they spent a lot of money on that bar scene and it just didn't move anything forward. It was just some information and it wasn't useful, and that's why they cut it."
Overall, Thun said the experience was a good opportunity to watch the filmmaking process, and he encourages others to give it a shot.
"I want people to know that anybody can do this. They have these auditions for movies shot around the area and anyone can go down and try it out," Thun said. "It's a kick - it's fun to see how it's all done."
Minnesota Film and Television, a nonprofit film commission, lists Minnesota-made projects, location trailers, training and a production directory on its website, mnfilmtv.org.