Absolute Michigan caught up with John Grooters, producer and director of Frontier Boys and asked him a few questions about this Michigan-made movie. One thing that makes the film unique is the fact that the story is actually set in Michigan. Read on for the interview and also check out the trailer!
How did the community of Charlevoix respond to your filming and to the rather difficult story?
The community of Charlevoix was cooperative with the filmmakers of The Frontier Boys on several fronts. We had great support and cooperation from the City Council, City Manager’s Office and Mayor Boogie Carlson, from the Charlevoix School Board, from the City of Charlevoix Fire Department and Police Department, as well as from a number of local business and churches. The Sheriff was resistant at first, but when he saw our intention was to depict the town Sheriff in a very positive light, he became a wonderful friend and helper of the film. We think small towns like Charlevoix are often portrayed in films in unflattering lights, and it was one of our objectives to counter that.
We also were welcomed very warmly in Mancelona and East Jordan, and in all Northern Michigan communities we have made enduring friendships. Now that the film has played in Charlevoix, Elk Rapids, Frankfort, Petoskey, Lansing, and Grand Blanc and has opened in Traverse City, Midland and Marquette, it is our goal to have more people come to see the film than actually live in town. I think we’re close!
What do think Michigan offers to filmmakers as a setting?
I’m a big fan of our state. I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona and moved to Michigan as a high school freshman. To this day, I am a fan of all four of our seasons and of our abundance of green grass, black dirt, and blue water. I’m especially in love with the Northern Lower Peninsula, and so it was easy for me to choose Charlevoix as the setting of The Frontier Boys. We chose to film in the doldrums of the late winter; for many it’s the ugliest time of the year. However, the weather and the change of season were both integral to the arc of our story. We were telling a story of survival, and a story of hope. The promise of spring is an annual and tangible reminder of hope for us Northerners.
How do you think Michigan has enough assets to continue to grow as a movie industry hub?
The film industry in Michigan was growing and was on the verge of becoming a stable and solid industry. In 2010, Michigan was number two or three in the nation as far as production dollars spent. I hoped that the state would continue to invest in the industry statewide as I believed that it was good for the economic, marketing, and future health of Michigan. Outside the benefits that the Michigan Film Incentive brought to entice the industry, our company was here and producing projects long before the incentives, and we hope to be viable long after them as well. We still offer the hardest-working people with the most honest and fair prices in the business. Our production and post-production company in Holland (Grooters Productions) continues to attract work from all over the country because of our quality and value. And our state’s natural resources, diversity and beauty will always be an attraction.
You can watch the trailer below or at the Frontier Boys website.