There are more than 200 million data items on the popular website, IMDb (Internet Movie Database), including more than 4 million TV and film programs.
Yet, Minneapolis-based science-fiction filmmaker Christopher Mihm has managed to stand out among the gigantic database in the filming location for his 12th movie in 12 years, “Demon With the Atomic Brain.”
“When I put we shot in New Auburn, I had to add the location to IMDb,” Mihm said. “So, at least according to IMDb, we were the first team to film anything in New Auburn, Wisconsin.”
Mihm is premiering “Demon With the Atomic Brain” starring New Auburn resident Amanda Tietz at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4 at Heights Theater, 3951 Central Ave. NE, Columbia Heights, Minn.
The film is consistent with Mihm’s signature style, a modern-made retro film shot in classic 1950s style, he said, but he thinks this one is a bit more complex. Whereas previous films have starred, for example, a giant spider or monster of sorts, “Demon With the Atomic Brain” deals with an alternate reality caused by a machine that has created a rip in time.
“I was a little worried going into this one because it is sort of a high-minded sci-fi concept compared to my previous work, which has been a little more straightforward,” he said. “It was a nice challenge for me, which I liked, but I was paranoid whether or not it would make sense. It turned out, though, it’s actually I think the best thing I’ve ever done.”
With 12 years in the business, Mihm said he tries to improve his work with each film, and this one he felt proud of its pacing and his ability to not do too much exposition.
So, why New Auburn?
Mihm said he first worked with Tietz when a group put together a musical based on his film, “The Monster of Phantom Lake,” last year at the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts in Menomonie. Tietz was one of the only female adults in that play, and he said he was impressed with her work and worked well with her.
He cast her as Dr. Adams, the main character in “Demon With the Atomic Brain,” and only grew more impressed.
“She came in and did better than I imagined she would,” Mihm said. “For never having done a film before, she does a really good job of carrying the film. It’s not entirely on her shoulders, the ensemble all steps up so it’s not just her burden to be good, but she does a great job.”
Though Tietz, 38, has been doing community theater much of her life, this was her first speaking role in a film. When the opportunity arose, her response was, “why not?”
For the six-month filming process, she had to make the drive to the Twin Cities many times, including weekends, which took away time from her husband and three children, and she had to learn what it takes to be a lead character while learning the filming process.
Looking back she said it is definitely worth it to play a strong female lead.
“My character is kind of a bad a**,” she said. “She’s tough and she’s smart. She’s a really good female example. I have a daughter so I hope she’ll see an example of how, being a strong and smart female, you can do good things.”
When Mihm told the cast they were looking for a wide open space to film a scene, Tietz immediately thought of her neighbor’s large yard in New Auburn. After getting permission from her neighbors, she suggested it to Mihm, and for one weekend in March the crew came to her hometown for filming.
It happened to be the coldest weekend in March — Mihm said it was “the coldest thing I’ve ever shot outside” — but Tietz does like looking over and seeing a yard in her hometown that is now part of a film she stars in.
Tietz has yet to see the final product, and she’s looking forward to bringing her family to the premiere. She’s glad to be part of a family-friendly film her children can enjoy, but hopes it also teaches them a little about never giving up on dreams.
“A lot of it came down to, I have a day job, I work really hard and do my part, but my thing I love has always been acting and performing,” Tietz said. “My kids can see no matter how old you get, you can still find ways to live your dreams. I’m really excited to see that come to fruition.”
The film is premiering at one of the longest continually running theaters in Minnesota, a space Mihm thinks fits well with the film.
“It’s a really cool restored theater and these events we all get dressed up and create it as if it were a movie premiere back in the 1950s and 1960s,” Mihm said. “The experience of watching the movie in that crowd is very different than watching this movie anywhere else.”
Mihm, who has created a nationally-renowned following dubbed the “Mihmiverse,” expects people from around the country to fly in for the event.
Tickets can be purchased at demonwiththeatomicbrain.com. The site warns interest is “extremely high” and it cannot guarantee tickets will be available at the door.
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