IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WZMQ) – In Michigan’s picturesque Upper Peninsula, the anticipation for the world premiere of “Northbound: The Final Chapter” is building. Director Seth Anderson, the visionary behind the entire Northbound series, shares insights into the film’s creation, revealing the dedication of a UP-based cast and crew who weathered challenges, including a pandemic.
“The joke was we were making a documentary, but we didn’t really give up on it. It’s a marker of the dedication of the different people that we’ve involved. Like today, I was saying 30-50 people have been revolving around here with this coming back day in and day out,” remarked Anderson, boasting an award-winning cast.
“We got an award. I think it was 2022, we won for ensemble, cast, and best pilot. Because we’re going to show it as a movie, but its life was as a series,” informed Anderson. The award was bestowed by the Minnesota web-fest.
“It’s an ensemble cast,” stated Anderson, “and I should mention that it’s an award-winning ensemble cast. I would say about 25 different people. That’s core actors, lead actors and then some extras, and different things like that, so it’s a huge involvement,” he shared.
Northbound is a prequel story. “They’ll definitely see the last shot of Northbound really is the beginning of ‘Northstar’, Anderson informed, “We built a world with this series, and a lot of the characters move on. I think a lot of people will know what we are thinking when they go to the final chapter. I’ll just say that,” commented Anderson.
Actress Ali Mondloch has yet to see the final shot of Northbound: “I just went in for a soundbite update, and I saw some stuff at Tech that I had never seen before…” she alluded.
“With a few notable exceptions, we’ve got a UP-based cast and crew. Volunteers, I should say, too…that have worked on Northbound, and particularly the final chapter, for the last 5 years. So we had a pandemic somewhere in there – we were shooting over the course of two years. We hit the pandemic, and then we were able to kind of work through that a little bit, and finally at this point, we shot last year and finished it,” informed Anderson.
“Those characters are, it’s part of the mystery, but they’re in a coma. Why are people in a coma, is something the audience is trying to figure out. The cataclysmic event killed people immediately [and] mysteriously in one day most of them, and a few survived, and a select few were rendered comatose. And that’s the mystery. Ali’s [Mondloch] doctor character has some knowledge that is starting to unravel,” Anderson explained.
As the red carpet is rolled out for the December 9 premiere of ‘Northbound: The Final Chapter’ at the Braumart Theatre, Anderson assures attendees that even newcomers to the series will be immersed in the post-apocalyptic world. The storyline, set against the stunning backdrop of the UP’s wilderness, explores how diverse communities navigate an enigmatic cataclysm, with conflicts and power struggles weaving through the narrative.
The ensemble cast, primarily composed of local actors, brings authenticity to the tale. Ali Mondloch, who plays the character Hannah Trepanier, a doctor in the film, reflects on the unique experience of shooting at Michigan Tech. The university’s Great Lakes Research Center serves as a futuristic facility in the movie, adding a sci-fi touch to the narrative.
She shared a little bit about her creative process:
“Starting from reading the whole entire series from scratch, and then finding your arc – your character arc- and going in and looking at how you specifically want to portray something. And then all of that gets thrown out the window as soon as you’re on set. So you prepare all of this time just to go on, and then meet whoever you’re talking to. They’ve done the same thing, and then that’s when the magic happens: that’s when the scene really comes together, because it’s real at that point,” reflected Mondloch.
Despite facing challenges over the five-year production span, including a pandemic hiatus, the team’s commitment is evident as the series transitions from a web-fest pilot to a full-length feature film.
“Well, we built a world with this series, and a lot of the characters move on. I think a lot of people will know what we are thinking when they go to the final chapter. I’ll just say that,” hinted Anderson.
Mondloch shares her own memorable experiences, highlighting the family-oriented atmosphere on set, with her own children appearing as extras. She expresses excitement about the upcoming premiere and hints at the possibility of being re-cast in the next part of the series, adding to the intrigue surrounding the Northstar saga.
Anderson sheds light on some filming locations, including the captivating Lake Antoine (in the first part of the series), and the collaboration with Michigan Tech. The Great Lakes Research Center becomes a pivotal location, providing a futuristic backdrop for key scenes.
Michigan Tech will for sure be featured in Northbound: The Final Chapter. “They gave us, we’re right on the shoreline there at the Great Lakes research center, which is high-tech. The building may be 20 years old. We needed a facility, kind of a sci-fi looking place, so they just opened the doors, and we’ve been there a few times filming. It was important to get a little bit of Lake Superior in there to give more of a location-feel for the U.P.,” expressed Anderson.
Much of the land in forest scenes were shot right in Norway, on a leading actor, Nate Alwine’s land, informed Anderson;
“Then we have one particular location house that I felt like we were shooting. Well, we were for years shooting at the same house,” said Anderson, adding,
“And I remember at one point – these are the sort of things that happen when you’re shooting outside of Hollywood … at one point the DNR all last year was going to put a road right through this little patch of woods that would’ve destroyed our continuity, so I was there every day at that house. That’s the red forest,” he informed, reflecting that he would have found a way to adapt, but it was still a concern. “This house is in the climactic section of the movie, it’s the all-action scene,” he hinted.
Other scenes were shot at Piers Gorge. “So that first footage that I shot with the group here, which was in 2013. This was before drones, we were shooting Pierce Gorge from a mini helicopter…and it was prone to crashing,” Anderson reminisced.
As the final chapter is set to unfold with a runtime of around 120 minutes, Anderson emphasizes the importance of continuity and adapting to challenges, such as potential disruptions from the Department of Natural Resources, for a scene in what the crew calls “The Red Forest”. He teases the connection between the final shot of “Northbound” and the beginning of “Northstar,” leaving audiences eager to witness the saga’s resolution.
With a sense of community, dedication, and a touch of mystery, “Northbound: The Final Chapter” promises to captivate audiences on the red carpet and transport them into the post-apocalyptic wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Tickets to the world premiere are just $12 per person. Tickets can be purchased at True North Outpost, at Moose Jackson Cafe, at the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce, and through the Braumart Theatre.
Tickets are available at:
Doors to the Braumart open at 6 Central time.
On December 10th, following the red carpet world premiere, local students in grades 7-12 will have an opportunity to break down a scene.
“We’ll have a sign-up sheet for that, and it’s gonna be capped, but we’re going to have a crew here, and some of our cast. We are going to talk about one scene, and breakdown how we did it because it’s a DIY production, and we want to kind of de-mystify the process, stated Anderson.