Award-winning film “The Novice” – with ties to a Crookston native – set for release this weekend

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“The Novice,” written and directed by Lauren Hadaway, opens Friday, December 17th. Steven Sims, originally from Crookston, Minnesota, worked on the film as a producer. River Cinema 15 in East Grand Forks will show the movie and it will also be available to stream on demand.

The film centers on Alex Dahl, played by Isabelle Fuhrman (from “Orphan” in 2009), a freshman obsessed with joining the varsity boat for her school’s rowing team. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in June and won awards for “Best Narrative Feature”, “Best Actress” and “Best Photography” at the festival.

Sims works for H2L Media Group, an independent production company in Beverly Hills, California. Hadaway came into the business with the semi-autobiographical script after writing it, and H2L executives decided to produce it. Sims was part of the team that helped raise funds, find a location, book talent, and list the film at festivals.

“The Novice” is Hadaway’s first film, but far from the first film she has worked on. She has sound credits in dozens of films like “Zach Snyder’s Justice League”, “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” and Oscar winner “Whiplash”. Sims said Hadaway has a strong presence on the set.

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“Sometimes when you get especially newbie filmmakers, but even filmmakers who have done multiple movies, they don’t know what they want and then the story can get a bit tricky because some things just don’t line up, ”Sims said recently. at the Grand Forks Herald. . “Lauren had such a strong overall vision of what she wanted while on set that she was able to capture it all.”

Hadaway loosely based the film on his own experiences of rowing in college, but Fuhrman was completely new to the sport. She spent six weeks before filming training with a rowing trainer and strength trainer, and gained 12 pounds of muscle for the role. Alex is a calm main character, with most of the story unfolding in his actions. Fuhrman said the training helped her connect with the character.

“I was able to dive into this role in a very physical way,” Fuhrman said in an interview with the Herald. “Mentally you start to step into the same mental space of being an athlete and, you know, looking for specific numbers and setting those goals for yourself.”

The film was shot at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont., In October and November 2019. Many scenes in the film take place on the water, with Alex rowing alone or teams of rowers training and racing. . To take advantage of the warmer weather during filming, water scenes were filmed during the first week.

“Turning on the water can be quite complicated and very tricky due to the continuity aspects and you have a lot of moving parts that have to line up to get a usable shot,” Sims said.

Sims said that while filming in the water, there were up to a dozen boats on the water at a time. This included boats with actors, crew and security personnel.

“My first week as a director was Water Week,” Hadaway said. “It was all the clichés: thrown in the deep end, sink or swim, all that.”

The Hollywood Reporter compared “The Novice” to Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” and Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash”, two other obsession films. Between workout montages and a heavy, brutalist setting, Sims described the film as “genre-bending” – something between a sports movie and a noir thriller.

“It’s like, wow, this is something new that I’ve never seen before,” Sims said. “I think that’s probably what turns people on in independent filmmaking, when they see something fresh and new or a genre or type of movie through a new lens that has never been shown before. “

Sims is also a producer on two upcoming films, which he hopes to hit theaters next year. One, titled “Blood”, is directed by Brad Anderson (“The Machinist”) and shot in Manitoba. The other, “Marlowe”, is directed by Neil Jordan (“Interview with the Vampire”) and stars Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange.


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