Film partners with Twin Cities talent and businesses
By Paige Kieffer
Watch out, Coen brothers! Minnesota’s latest brother-filmmaker duo, Gabe and John-Mark Hostetler, are collaborating on their first short film, which has been filming this summer across the Twin Cities.
The brothers have previously collaborated on music videos and short videos, but have now expanded their repertoire. The Hostetlers co-wrote the short film “The Buck It List” together, and it is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes.
“It takes a lot of organization,” Gabe said. “It’s been a lot of planning and a lot of coordinating, but its been a lot of fun and a great learning experience.”
John-Mark added, “I think with narrative videos you have a lot more to think about like audio and thinking about having a clear story and the scale is much larger and requires a lot of actors, locations and details.”
The film is about three friends, Danny, Zeke and Jazelyn, who are graduating high school and splitting ways for college. They decide the best way to immortalize their friendship is to finish a bucket list that they made when they were 10 years old. The title “The Buck It List” comes from the children misspelling bucket list.
John-Mark said. “It’s a comedy with a very John Hughes-esque contemporary, modern vibe.”
John-Mark, lives in St. Louis Park and is a graduate of the Mainstreet School of Performing Arts in Hopkins and teaches at the Performing Institute of Minnesota in Eden Prairie, has been working as the director.
Gabe lives in Brooklyn Park, recently graduated from Armstrong High School and plans to attend Azusa Pacific University. He is behind the camera as the cinematographer.
Gabe said the film is based on experiences that he’s going through right now as he prepares to transition into college. He said that making “The Buck It List” was a perfect chance to spend one last summer with his high school friends, who helped collaborate on the project.
The film is funded by Gabe, who recently won a cash prize for being a finalist in the Toyota TeenDrive365 Video Challenge, where he created a public service announcement on distracted driving.
Gabe was inspired to make films after seeing his brother, who is nine years his senior, get involved in filmmaking.
“Ever since I was young I’ve always just watched him make really fun and cool projects, and saw how filmmaking and doing things like this brought people together, and I was really inspired to do that,” Gabe said. “Once he taught me how to edit in third grade on iMovie, that’s when it started clicking for me, and ever since then I’ve gotten better and better, and now its fun because I’m at a point where we can work together and make some professional-looking stuff. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without my brother’s mentorship.”
“I don’t feel like a mentor anymore,” John-Mark responded. “He’s taken filmmaking and run with it and I’m so impressed with how professional he is, and he’s a much better filmmaker than I was at 19 years old. Even though I was the first in the family to get into film and though I introduced him to film, he’s just really taken it and run.”
The brothers said their collaboration on “The Bucket List” has been an amazing experience and has taught both of them a lot about where their strengths lie in filmmaking.
“I think we have different gifts and abilities that balance each other out,” John-Mark said. “Gabe’s more of a technical person and he knows all about equipment, formulating shots and making the image look beautiful and I have more of an acting background, directing, casting and working on storyline. Still we collaborated in every facet on this project and it’s been wonderful.”
Both brothers created their own production companies, with Gabe creating his during his sophomore year at Armstrong.
Gabe’s company, Young Vision Films, is producing this film.
They hope to enter the film into a number of regional and national film festivals.
They recruited a number of their friends to help make the film, including John-Mark’s childhood friend, Jessica Zerby from Shorewood. Zerby attended Mainstreet School of Performing Arts in Hopkins with him. She’s working as executive producer for the film.
“It’s been an incredible experience seeing how they’ve come along,” Zerby said. “John-Mark and I used to be using these tiny little tape recorders and now we’re using real equipment and we have budgets and real actors. We’ve learned a lot.”
Gabe used to act in their videos, playing a young version of John-Mark, and Jessica said she was impressed on how far he’s come.
“Gabe is incredibly talented and wise above his years,” she said. “We’ve had the opportunity to work with other cinematographers but we keep going back to Gabe because he’s just that good at what he does.”
Zerby also got her father, Shorewood Mayor Scott Zerby, involved with the project. The production team worked at their house when the team filmed in Shorewood.
The mayor said, “It’s exciting to be apart of a vivid art community like this locally that’s creating new videos for the community, and we’re very supportive of helping local artists in anyway we can.”
“The Buck-It List” was also filmed in Brooklyn Park and Plymouth.
Shorewood resident Sue Robideau was also asked by Jessica to use her home for filming. She said, “I think it’s awesome and neat for these young kids to be making a film and we were happy to donate our home to help them.”
Joey Nova’s pizzeria in Tonka Bay also donated pizza for the production team and was featured in the film.
“I have worked with the Zerby family in the past and know how supportive they are in our community, so I was honored to be able to help,” said pizzeria owner Gary Ezell. “The community has given our team a chance to prove our passion, I can only wish the best in the team’s journey.”
John-Mark said, “We feel a sense of community with this project and appreciate all the help that has been given.”
Gabe also recruited his friend, Drelli, a local musician from Minneapolis. Drelli played a Joey Nova’s pizza delivery man in “The Bucket List.”
Gabe previously worked with Drelli on his music video, “Chiquita.”
“I wanted to start acting and I thought this would be a good opportunity and it has turned into a really amazing learning experience,” Drelli said.
Greg Jennings, former wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins, also joined “The Buck-It List” with the hopes of getting into acting. He’s playing the teens’ high school principal.
“The reason why I got involved was because I love Gabe,” Jennings said. “He’s a good kid and he’s doing some exciting things and I just wanted to help out. Also I saw this as a good opportunity for myself to get into acting and learn how to read different scripts, different styles for roles and get more practice and more experience and ultimately, I’ll be more comfortable acting in the long run.”
The film also features Gabe’s friend and fellow Armstrong High School graduate Darrin Barber (Zeke), Jessica and John-Mark’s friend Kristina Plumb (Jazelyn) who attends Colombia College in Chicago and Lee Szleifer (Danny), who is a former student of John-Mark’s at Mainstreet School of Performing Arts Hopkins. The three actors play the best friends working to finish the bucket list.
“This experience has made me fall in love with acting,” Plumb said.
Barber added, “I love acting, I’ve done it before, but I loved the script and I thought this would be a great summer project.”
“It’s been a blast making this film,” Szleifer said. “I’ve always wanted to do film, whether behind or in the scenes. I joined so I could have the experience.”
The brothers completed filming last week and the film is now in post-production.
Follow Paige Kieffer on Facebook at facebook.com/mnsunsailor.