Les Sholes’ latest feature film, “The Novel Movie,” will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Empire Arts Center in downtown Grand Forks.
The film, which presents a new concept in filmmaking, is unlike other feature films, said Sholes, owner of Fat Cat Productions. “This is not your typical motion picture; it will hold your interest because of the captivating storyline.”
Sholes, of rural Hatton, N.D., who co-wrote, directed and produced the film, describes it as a mystery, suspense, art-house film that tells a story through photos and illustrations.
“As the story unfolds, you will experience a series of different changes in the photography and illustrations,” he said. The intentional deterioration of the images -- photos which become photoshopped pictures which become drawings as the film continues -- contributes to the storytelling and the effect on the viewer.
The film, which runs about 75 minutes, is mainly black-and-white and contains more than 1,400 photos and illustrations, along with the narration. Sholes used several actors to pose in various positions that relate to what is taking place in each scene.
“The Novel Movie” is about a woman and her husband who return to her mother’s farmstead after her mother commits suicide. As they try to prepare the house for sale and hold an auction, the woman starts to experience weird happenings, causing her to question, is this really happening, or is it all in her head, Sholes said.
“She’s convinced that she sees things,” he said. “Her perspective starts to change. She’s seeing things, but are they really there?”
“We don’t know if this gal is losing her mind or if she’s got her stuff together. So you don’t know -- and you won’t know until the end -- it could be either way,” he said.
The voice of the woman, who’s telling the story, is narrated by Tina Wilkening, a local actor.
Other actors, all from this area, are: Amanda Schneider, George Herda, Kriss Walstad, Melissa Schwingler and Ben Heit. Executive producer is Donna Wolfe-Sholes, with editing by Scott Tostenrud.
The still photography was shot by Charese Schroeder of Grand Forks and the illustrations were drawn by Andrew Youngblom, a professional sketch artist and former art teacher at Northland Community and Technical College, Thief River Falls, who now lives in Minneapolis.
Sholes co-wrote the screenplay with Henrick Holmberg, a horror script-writer in Stockholm, Sweden, who has written more than 30 horror scripts for Sholes.
Sholes, who began collaborating with Holmberg on this project 13 years ago, said he gave Holmberg the storyline, the treatment he had in mind and how he wanted it to play out. After receiving Holmberg’s final draft, Sholes began manipulating and editing it, through more than a dozen drafts, into exactly the product he wanted.
The unrated film “is not scary -- it’s more of a suspense film, more of an art-house film. The art community is going to love it,” Sholes said. “Anybody in the arts is going to say, okay, that’s a really cool, interesting, original concept.”
This film -- his third feature film -- was shot at various locations in eastern North Dakota, he said, with most scenes shot on an abandoned farmstead, owned by Randy and Angie Green, near Ada, Minn. His earlier films are “Ole and Lena” and “Exscind.”
Sholes plans to bring “The Novel Movie” to the mainstream audience by marketing it to several video-on-demand platforms, he said.
Tickets for “The Novel Movie” are on sale through the Empire Arts Center website, www.empireartscenter.com , and at the door Saturday evening. Admission, $12.50, includes a free DVD of Sholes’ award-winning horror movie, “Exscind”. For more information, go online to www.thenovelmovie.com .
Another example of Sholes’ work, a thriller screenplay, “The Whitehurst Woods,” was recently selected as a semifinalist in the Scriptapalooza Screenplay Competition, which is ranked in the top 10 in the international screen-writing contests, he said.