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Moorhead native plans to shoot low-budget thriller around Cormorant Lakes

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DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — Residents of the Cormorant Lakes area may notice a few new faces this summer, and some of them might have their video cameras out and filming.

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No, it’s not footage for a new reality series. Instead, it’s a film project being organized by Moorhead native Brian Orvik, who is raising money to make one of the screenplays he has written, “Text Me Deadly,” into a movie.

“We just launched our Kickstarter fundraising project,” Orvik said. “We’re trying to raise $20,000.”

Orvik, who works at North Dakota State University in Fargo, has been writing screenplays for several years, and decided that making “Text Me Deadly” into a low-budget thriller would be the best way to break into the movie business.

The first order of business was to find himself a director. Enter Minneapolis filmmaker Troy Bakewell, a veteran of more than a dozen movies, many of them thrillers.

“We have a great director and script, now we just need the talent, crew and financing,” Orvik said.

He’s also lined up composer Topher Williams to write the movie’s score, and has lined up a trio of local bands, Boomtown, Rhyme or Reason and Carmen the Cactus, who have agreed to let their music be used in the film.

While he has a few people in mind for some of the parts, Orvik said he doesn’t intend to finalize the cast or crew decisions until after the Kickstarter campaign has concluded.

“I have a bunch of people who want to be in it,” he said. “But I’m waiting until we have the funds in place to cast the movie.”

What he has decided on, however, is that much of the film will be shot in and around the Cormorant Lakes area, with a few additional scenes to possibly take place in Fargo-Moorhead.

“We’ve pretty much got everything organized with the locations,” he said. “We’ll mostly be down in the Cormorant village and surrounding lakes.”

He said he expects the shoot to take about 12 days.

As for the plot of “Text Me Deadly,” Orvik said he drew on the classic film “And Then There Were None” for inspiration, but gave it a modern twist.

“Agatha Christie wrote the book, which was then made into a movie,” Orvik said.

That movie’s premise brings eight people together on a remote island, with each having seemingly received an invitation from a friend or colleague, but none of them having met before. They are met by a pair of newly hired servants, who inform them that their hosts will be arriving shortly. One by one, each of the guests is subsequently found dead, under violent circumstances.

“I’ve always liked the fact that all of these people were suspects, and no one knew who was killing who,” Orvik said.

So he took that basic premise and adapted it to incorporate modern technology — such as smartphones, social media and texting.

In “Text Me Deadly,” a series of seemingly random deaths are tied to text messages — which turn out to have been sent from the stolen phone of one murder victim to the phone of the next person on the killer’s list.

Shelly, the film’s heroine, “is trying to figure out who’s killing all her friends,” Orvik said — a process that is made all the more complicated when Shelly herself is implicated.

The main characters are listed in the script as being between the ages of 21 and 25, but there are casting opportunities for older and younger actors as well as several crew positions available.

For more information on how to become a part of the film, or to contribute toward its Kickstarter campaign, visit www.textmedeadly.com. 

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