From Ely to Netflix? Nobody’s Son, shot here in 2017, released and available for purchase

by Tom Coombe -

A movie shot in the Ely area has made it to the big screen, and might even get life as an ongoing series.
Nobody’s Son, written by a man with Ely and Babbitt ties and filmed at Ely High School, Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital and other parts of the area in 2017, has been featured at film festivals across the upper Midwest and can be purchased online.
It won an award for “the best dramatic short” at St. Paul’s Frozen Film Festival, and the 45-minute drama may be just the beginning, if writer and director Brian Anthony Austin has his way.
“I wanted to make it for TV as a series,” Austin said Monday. “I’m trying to get it on Netflix. I’m trying to get enough awareness out there so enough people buy the thing so it can be put on Netflix.”
Austin, a 1992 graduate of Babbitt High School who attended school in Ely until third grade, brought about 40 cast and crew to town for a week-and-a-half two years ago.
“I made Nobody’s Son in Ely because I thought it was a great place to film,” said Austin.
Executive producer Jerry Dahling cited the area’s “beautiful settings” in touting Ely as a natural fit for the film, and Austin said Minnesota’s Snowbate program, which offered film producers state rebates to bring movie production to the state, also had an impact.
Drones were used to capture scenes from Ely’s Sheridan Street and elsewhere in the area, and film crews set up shop in a classroom on the Ely school campus, as well as at the hospital and a home in Eagles Nest Township.
Austin concedes there’s some “shock factor” to the drama, which focuses on the experiences of a small boy who moves from an urban setting to a rural community, and tackles the issue of abuse.
“It’s really not for children,” said Austin. “It can be for teenagers and for mature audiences.”
According to an online synopsis, in Nobody’s Son “Dillon has been moved again. A familiar life of being passed from one household to the next, but this time it’s much worse. Dillon struggles with speaking up, in order to expose his abuser. He reaches out to any adult that may hear; but will anyone really listen?”
The film stars actors and actresses including Eric Whitten, Shauna Lane and Muriel Minoff, and Texas-based Jared Ivers, but extras include faces that will be recognizable to many Ely area residents.
Those include staff members from the Grand Ely Lodge and the hospital, as well as children who were part of scenes recorded at the school.
Austin said the movie has been a hit at festivals at Kansas City, Fort Worth and Indianapolis as well as St. Paul, and he’s hopeful to “start getting it played for educational purposes at schools.”
Also in the works is a series based on the movie, and Austin indicated “I wrote the first five episodes for Netflix.”
The film is also available for purchase, for $8.99 on website (CORRECTED):
“Most people who are buying it on Shopify are from Ely,” said Austin.
The writer is also hoping for a big screen showing in Ely, perhaps at the renovated State Theater or another venue in town.
“I would really like to show it in Ely since it was made there,” he said.
Austin and others associated with the film were appreciative of the reception they received in Ely during production, and the film had an economic impact in Ely, with crews filling rooms and spending money locally during a slow time for area businesses. The film was recorded here in March, 2017.
“It was really expensive to make, even in Ely,” said Austin.