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Filmmakers shooting in Northwoods


February 13, 2021

Tom LaVenture/Daily Globe

Crewmember Erick West watches at left as director Mike Cheslik and cinematographer Quinn Hester, on the ladder, shoot a scene from their comedy feature "Hundreds of Beavers," on Thursday along U.S. 51 south of Hurley. The work is focused on actor Ryland Tews who is out of the photo at right in a wetland outshoot of the Gile Flowage.


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Hurley - An independent film crew was south of Hurley on Thursday to shoot a scene for their comedy feature.

"We're filmmakers from Milwaukee," said Mike Cheslik, director of the film, "Hundreds of Beavers," a comedy feature that is two years in the making and now in production for the past nine weeks.

The story is set during the fur trade, he said. It's not focusing on the fur trade in general, but is the story of one man who goes from being an applejack distiller to learning the trade of fur trapping. He figures out how to trap beavers and bunnies to sell them and slowly improves, he said.

The beavers are people in mascot costumes. The trapper is played by Ryland Tews, who is dressed up in exaggerated fur and gear in a sort of cartoonish situation.

"It's going to be like a physical comedy with no dialogue," Cheslik said. "We've been working on this one for two years now. It's an ambitious project about the Northwoods."

It's sort of like a silent movie, he said. The goal is to make a film that resonates with audiences of all ages and all languages, who will enjoy seeing a man tackling a beaver mascot, he said.

"We want to do our best to make people laugh, especially here in Wisconsin," Cheslik said. "But hopefully, because it's a silent comedy it will translate easily to all types of people."

The crew has been shooting at locations around northern Wisconsin for nearly a week, to include Hurley, Washburn, Manitowish Waters and Pembine, according to Quinn Hester, the cinematographer with the crew. The Thursday shoot was set up on part of the frozen Gile Flowage, where motorists traveling along U.S. 51 between Hurley and Mercer could see the action.

It looks to be one of the coldest weeks of the year but Hester said his digital movie camera is holding up to the cold weather as well as the filmmakers.

This is the second feature film from the group. Tews directed their first feature film, "Lake Michigan Monster," which was made in Milwaukee and released in 2018.

"That was the Milwaukee movie and this is the Northwoods movie," Cheslik said, noting that the first film is available on several online streaming networks. "It went to film festivals all over the world."

Cheslik, Hester and Erick West, who was also on location Thursday, were all involved with both films. One of the things they have in common is that they all grew up in the Milwaukee area and spent many of their summers coming up to northern Wisconsin with family.

"We have good memories of coming Up North," Cheslik said.

The goal of the group now is to make movies that resonate with people, he said. It's important to them to help people get a good laugh.


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