The northwest Iowa town of Okoboji will host a world movie premiere this week, while debuting a new style of creating cinematic entertainment. The film "Arnold’s Park" was produced and influenced by thousands of people in all 50 states and in 20 countries — via the Internet.
Chief producer Patrick Nelson, with Minneapolis-based B-Sting Entertainment, says he wanted to take Hollywood moguls out of the movie-making process.
"We essentially took the idea that the only person that matters in the equation of entertainment, in particular in a feature film, is the audience member," he says. "We felt like people deserve to be more than just a seat in the theater."
Nelson and his team launched a website called www.peoplesmovie.com and started taking suggestions on the storyline, the setting, the actors — everything. He says the on-line community embraced the idea.
"If you look around the world and how much reality television and other things have impacted us, the YouTubes and the My Spaces, people crying out to say it shouldn’t just be for the elite, the silver spoons, if you will. Everyone should have a chance to impact the way they view and shape entertainment," he says. "We took that idea and launched a People’s Movie concept."
The film is a murder-mystery, set in the historic Arnolds Park amusement park with Lake Okoboji as a backdrop. Nelson says under the People’s Movie idea, virtually anyone can play some sort of role in the movie-making experience.
During the process, he’s heard the old adage many times about how too many cooks can spoil the stew.
"Sometimes you’ll read stories about if a certain character does this, the movie moves in this direction. If you’re going to share it in its highest light on the silver screen, you can only have one movie at the end of the day. Every decision you as an individual made may not be the one that was ultimately chosen by the majority," he says. "It’s a majority rules process. You got to be involved throughout. You got to provide feedback on what decisions were important to you."
The world premiere is Thursday, July 19 at Great Lakes Cinema 7 in Okoboji.