If enthusiasm alone could complete a film project, "Lake Desire" would be well on its way to neighborhood theaters.
As it is, however, the "homegrown Minnesota film" by Twin Cities writer-director Dav Kaufman -- in collaboration with Babe Winkelman Productions of Brainerd -- remains on the drawing boards.
For the moment, the project has stalled in the wake of Sept. 11, a sinking economy and general uncertainty in the film industry, Kaufman said in an interview last week.
Budgeted for $2.5 million, "Lake Desire" is still in search of sponsors and investors sufficient in number and commitment to allow filming to begin, he said.
Babe Winkelman has offered his support to a Minnesota film.
The absence of major investors has delayed Winkelman's direct involvement in the project, the region's well-known hunter-fisherman said this week.
Winkelman's commitment to the project is based on "the filmmaker obtaining marquee sponsors and investors and then we (Winkelman Productions) would help them with fishing related sponsors," he said.
"Until then, there's not a heck of a lot I can do," Winkelman said, although his company representatives have approached some prospective outdoor-related sponsors and "they are sitting on the sidelines waiting for the word that it's a go."
Billed as Kaufman's "love letter to Minnesota," the film apparently will feature several Brainerd area locations and Winkelman's film acting debut, if in fact it is ever made.
Dav Kaufman, a Twin Cities independent filmmaker, is promoting a fishing-oriented full-length feature film with Brainerd area locations.
Scripted by Kaufman, "Lake Desire" is billed as a "feel good movie with a solid message and a happy ending," the writer-director said.
With plenty of fishing themes, it tells the story about how a mysterious death in a small lakeside town changes its residents, including the sheriff, which Winkelman would play.
The film's promotional packet compares it in style and feel to other successful fishing-oriented feature films, such as "Grumpy Old Men," "On Golden Pond" and "A River Runs Through It."
"Lake Desire" will appeal to the 13-to-70 demographic with a PG-13 rating, life-changing premise, and absence of nudity and violence, Kaufman said.
But all of this is blue-sky optimism without additional sponsors and investors, the filmmaker said.
At 32, Kaufman has accumulated his filmmaking experience by working as below-the-line crew on other independent, low-budget films and commercial videos.
One of those is "Mulligan," a Minnesota-born film spoof on golf that attracted some media and audience attention at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. Kaufman served as assistant director on the production.
"Lake Desire" is the first full-length feature developed by Kaufman's recently created Crotalus Productions, he said.
His search for backers began more than a year ago, he said, and one of his first stops was at Babe Winkelman Productions in Brainerd.
The local fishing and hunting legend has been making outdoor-adventure video and television productions for more than two decades, including "Good Fishing" and "Outdoor Secrets."
Winkelman's programs are seen by 3 million to 5 million television viewers each week, he said, primarily on the USA and Outdoor cable television networks.
"There's no way I was going to make a fishing movie in Minnesota without Babe Winkelman," Kaufman said, "so I called him and introduced myself and he came on board."
Kaufman has included a letter of intent from the outdoorsman in the "Lake Desire" promotional packet, an extensive collection of "pitch" materials geared for prospective sponsors and investors. The largest sponsors (as well as all investors) are promised a small piece of the film's future profits, according to the packet.
"All of us at Babe Winkelman Productions are thrilled to be a part of 'Lake Desire' and will assist in bringing it to its fullest potential," Winkelman writes, adding that the letter will "show our commitment in a partnership."
Kaufman said Winkelman would get a producer credit for the film, as well as "a leading role in a feature film, which has always been one of his dreams."
Winkelman's letter also approves the use of his name to promote the project and offers strong support in the recruitment of other corporate sponsors.
The outdoorsman said this week he's optimistic the project eventually will come together.
"Dav feels optimistic so I guess I feel optimistic. He knows his business better than I do," Winkelman said.
And he remains upbeat about the script's family-oriented themes that first attracted his interest in the project.
"I'm about fed up with movies filled with violence, sex and drugs," Winkelman said. "This movie is a real-life drama in a wholesome community situation and will be a good family film that portrays fishing and the outdoor experience in a positive way.
"But if Dav doesn't find the investors he doesn't have the money to do the film."
In the meantime, however, Kaufman said he has received letters of intent from actors Corbin Bernsen ("L.A. Law" and "Major League"), Darren Burrows ("Northern Exposure"), Paul Dooley ("Breaking Away") and other name-brand celebrities to star in the film.
The filmmaker also plans to develop a merchandising line of "Lake Desire" outdoor clothing, a novel by the same name, a series of posters and prints with Minnesota outdoor themes, and a video game based on a Winkelman-run fishing contest.
But enthusiasm remains the project's most visible element, at least for now. For more information, consult Kaufman's Web site at www.lakedesire.com.
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