Fargo-filmed 'Tankhouse' is a hit with a hometown crowd for its local premiere
The comedy, filmed in 2019, starts a weeklong run at the Fargo Theatre on Friday, May 13.
FARGO — Introducing his movie “Tankhouse” at the Fargo Theatre on Monday night, May 9, Noam Tomaschoff recalled when asked if he wanted to make a movie in Fargo, he responded there already was a movie filmed in town, the Coen brothers’ film.
He smiled and nodded as his comment drew a chorus of “no” from the full house, as the 1996 film was never shot in town and only featured one scene set here.
“I hope this replaces the movie ‘Fargo’ in casual conversation,” Tomaschoff said.
For those that packed the Fargo Theatre for the premiere of “Tankhouse,” filmed almost entirely in town, it just may. The groaning “no” the director heard from the stage was soon replaced by laughs for the comedy.
Monday’s premiere was invite-only to allow those that worked on the film in 2019 a chance to reconnect and see it. The film will begin a weeklong run at the Fargo Theatre on Friday, May 13, the same day it launches on streaming platforms.
The film was produced by Los Angeles-based Matthew Cooper and Click Content Studios, a video production company owned by Fargo-based Forum Communications, which owns The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Forum Communications President and CEO Bill Marcil Jr. and Click’s Managing Director Jim Manney are listed as executive producers. Fargo native Jessamine Burgum is also an executive producer and many properties owned by the Burgums are featured in the movie.
The film follows New York theatrical actors Tucker (Stephen Friedrich) and Sandrene (Tara Holt), banished from their avant-garde troupe after a fatal performance. They relocate to Fargo to start a theatrical revolution and win a spot as the house troupe at the Fargo Theatre, only to run into Sandrene’s high school drama teacher, Morten (Richard Kind), who runs an opposing troupe.
Ticketholders lined up outside the Fargo Theatre eagerly awaiting Monday’s screening. Once inside, many took the opportunity to have their picture taken with writer/director Tomaschoff, stars Friedrich and Holt and producer Matthew Cooper. Being back in the venue, and seeing the theater on the screen in the building itself, was something they all looked forward to.
Those that appeared in the film were excited to see not only themselves, but also their town on the big screen.
“I was really calm, cool and collected until I saw photos from the Los Angeles premiere,” said Lisa Kornkven, who plays the local theater judge. One of the few local actors with lines, she enjoyed her days on set at the Red River Market and in the old Avalon, seeing how a film was made and crediting the actors for being so helpful.
“I think people will like it,” she said.
Every time the Fargo actress appeared on the screen, the crowd whooped in approval.
The biggest local star was the Sons of Norway, featured prominently in the film as the fictitious backroom there becomes home for the new Tankhouse theater troupe. The shots inside the Tankhouse space were filmed in what was then the old Schumacher Goodyear. The site, kitty-corner from the Fargo Theatre, is now the new Mercantile building.
The Troll Lounge is shown in all of its wood-paneled glory as Sandrene reconnects with her high school boyfriend, Hank (Alex Esola). She and Tucker are also introduced to the rest of what will become their troupe, including bartender Yorick (Joe Adler), whose Scandinavian accent sounds more like surprised Irish.
The Troll Lounge scenes also include a number of locals in the background, including Bryan Shinn.
“It’s all a little mind-blowing. We’re in Fargo at a film premiere,” he said just before the movie started. “I’m excited to see it. I sat in a bar for two days without a drink, which is a record for me.”
Once the movie started, the crowd shared the excitement. A series of jokes about Sandrene’s parents (Joey Lauren Adams and Andy Buckley) bringing buffalo jerky for the uptight Tucker to try were a big hit. Kind’s Morten got laughs when he lamented that West Fargo High School cut its theater program so there could be a bath for the football team. He also delivered a much-appreciated “Uff-da” late in the film. His showdown with Tucker while reciting the tongue-twisting "Modern Major General" in an alley behind The Forum was another crowd favorite.
While Friederich’s Tucker looks down on Fargo, his outlandish performance won the crowd over, as did Holt’s wholesome hometown girl with big dreams.
"It's about bringing people who may not even know each other together and making something amazing," Tomaschoff said.
“I had a blast,” said local film supporter Brent Brandt. “The love of theater, quirky characters and Fargo made it a fun movie night. It looked great, had an interesting story and I thought most of the acting was really good. It played like a love letter to Fargo.”
For a look back at the movie's creation in Fargo, check out InForum's exclusive coverage from those days.