Local filmmakers win awards for comedic film, making light of current toilet paper shortage

Father and son filmmakers, Joshua, right, and Chris Rosebrough, share a laugh as they discuss their film. "Weekend at Murphy's" which recently won a pair of awards from the Dakota Film Dash. . Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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A local film and video production company has snagged two awards in a recent film competition, by making a lighthearted comedy out of the exasperating restrictions and shortages -- mainly the toilet paper dilemma -- currently stifling society.

The company’s film, “Weekend at Murphy’s,” by father-and-son team Chris and Joshua Rosebrough and their associates at Pirate Productions, earned two awards, including the Audience Choice Award, in the Dakota Film Dash festival.

Their film, almost five minutes in length, also won an award for “Best Use of a Line of Dialogue,” Rosebrough said.


To qualify for the competition, each film had to include the line, “How did you do that?” and a prop, which was a roll of toilet paper.

Rosebrough said the prop was chosen “because everyone was talking about toilet paper and the lack thereof,” in light of the widespread panic-buying of the essential commodity brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dakota Film Dash competition “has been around for a while,” he said. “They have two different dashes -- one in the spring and one in the fall.”

This is the first time Rosebough and his team have entered the competition.

A ‘challenging’ competition

The requirements surrounding this Dakota Film Dash were “very challenging because of rule restrictions that were imposed on all of the teams due to the pandemic,” Rosebrough said.

Competing teams were required to shoot their short films on either an iPhone or a computer.

Another rule disallowed team members from meeting in person; they were required to work virtually, Rosebrough said.

The film competition organizers made the contest “as challenging as possible,” he said. Filmmakers were not given the film requirements until 10 days before the films were due, Rosebrough said, “so there’s no way to begin production ahead of time because you don’t know what you’re doing -- plus it’s breaking the rules anyway.”


“Once we were given the details, then the first thing you’ve got to do is figure out, alright, what do you do with what you’ve got. So, you have to pick a genre, you have to write a script.”

After finishing the script, that “gave us only seven days to piece everything together, to put a color grade on it, to get our sound effects, write a score and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “We were pretty much burning the midnight oil for the remainder of the week in putting that all together.”

They completed the project on the due date, April 1. The entire Dakota Film Dash competition, this year, was produced all online and entries were aired on Saturday, April 4.

He, his son, Joshua, and five others worked on the film, Rosebrough said.

Joshua Rosebrough, a graduate of the film school at Huntington University in Indiana, wrote the music and directed the film.

“I was director of photography,” said Chris Rosebrough.


He and his production company colleagues “all work virtually,” he said. He works in a studio on the top floor of his 100-year-old house and Joshua works in the basement of his home in Grand Forks.

“This isn’t the first narrative film we’ve produced,” he said, “but it’s the first we’ve produced for competition in a kind of quick, marathon, sprint-at-the-end kind of approach.”

Bathroom emergency

The story is about a fellow who lives in Grand Forks who wakes up one morning, rolls out of bed to start his day and, while eating breakfast, realizes from the rumbling in his midsection that a visit to the bathroom is in order. There, to his chagrin, he discovers that a single, partial sheet of toilet paper is all that’s left.

Because of other things that happen, “it creates a further emergency for him, is the best way I can put it,” Rosebrough said.

Dave Kary, a local talent who’s frequently seen in Fire Hall Theatre productions, plays the hapless -- and only -- main character.

Part of the fun of the production came from the opportunity to “torture” Kary as they filmed various frustrating situations, father and son Rosebrough admitted.

Originally from southern California, Chris Rosebrough relocated to this area six years ago after accepting a pastoral call to Kongsvinger Lutheran Church in Oslo, Minn.

“I wear multiple hats,” he said, “but my weekday job is Pirate Productions, a media company here in town; we focus on different media types that we put out.”

As partners in Pirate Productions, Chris and Joshua Rosebrough create a number of podcasts, including those with an educational focus, and have their own YouTube channel.

“What we’ve been doing as a production company is pushing ourselves more into narrative filmmaking,” said Chris Rosebrough, “because we actually have several projects that we want to be able to film and release as small indie films, and so moving into the Dakota Film Dash takes us out of the realm of YouTube and more into a traditional filmmaking, story-telling mode.”

Since Joshua is a film school graduate, he said: “We’re constantly pushing ourselves to kind of expand out what we’re doing.”

Related Topics: MOVIES
Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at or (701) 780-1107.
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