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Duluth filmmakers create rom-com about eternal groomsman

Nick Hansen, Anne Hansen and Lindsey Martinson are behind a quick-hit episodic comedy about a man who is perpetually cast as a member of the wedding party.

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Nick Hansen (left) is Will Knight in "The Groomsman," a series created by Hansen, his mother Anne and his cousin Lindsey Martinson. It's streaming on Hierony Vision. (Photo courtesy of Martinson)
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DULUTH — Will is a bit of a formal wear celebrity among the crew of Knight’s Chamber, where he has rented a tuxedo upward of 10 times in recent years. Like his brother Bradley says, in a moment that is the thesis statement for a locally made rom-com: “Always the groomsman, never the groom.”

“The Groomsman,” created by a trio of local writers-filmmakers, follows Will’s romantic travails as he navigates a world where he’s routinely cast in a well-dressed supporter to the supporting role while everyone around him finds love. Even the title of best man is out of reach. When Will assumes he will be by Bradley’s side for his wedding, he’s wrong

“I mean, will you be a groomsman, not the best man,” Bradley stammers toward Will.

“But I’m your … I’m your brother, Bradley,” he responds.

“Yeah, I know, but … ah,” Bradley says, looking at his fiancé. “Charlie’s like a brother to me, too.”

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The first episode of “The Groomsman,” by Nick Hansen, his mother Anne Hansen and his cousin Lindsey Martinson, is available for streaming on the Los Angeles service Hiernony Vision , or HV — a subscription-based space with content by indie artists. The trio is in the editing process for the second episode and plan to film two more — including one later this summer.

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In "The Groomsman," a series created by Duluth artists, Will Knight is always the groomsman, never the groom. Never, even, the best man. (Photo courtesy of Lindsey Martinson)

‘Groomsman’ duties

This all started with Nick Hansen, who stars as Will Knight, and the countless weddings where he served as a groomsman — specifically when he was in his 20s. With many of these being family weddings — the Hansens are self-described as having a large extended family that is close — the would-be filmmakers developed an ongoing list of funny things that happened.

The Hansens were together for a wedding in Florida, for instance, when they heard about an event that devolved into a fight and how the wedding staff used zip-tie handcuffs to contain it until the police were on the scene.

That fodder is reimagined in a montage scene from the first episode that includes a ring bearer’s untimely diaper incident and a barfing bridesmaid.

“We had all of these ideas,” Nick Hansen said.

Hansen wrote a rough outline of the script — which he now describes as a Coen Brothers style of intro, then Anne Hansen took over and, with the help of the other two, collaborated on a lighter touch during brainstorming sessions.

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“We’ve done a lot of walks,” Martinson said. “We’d go to Tischer Creek and walk and talk about different scenes and possibilities.”

The original plan was to create a feature-length film, but when Catalyst Content Festival announced its move to Duluth a few years ago, they reformed the idea as something episodic. They didn’t get into the festival that year, but they were able to offer screenings of the first 24 minutes to friends and family — three events that each sold out.

“We’ve been having a blast with every bit of it,” Anne Hansen said. “We do collaborate really well. It’s nice that it’s the three of us. We enjoy each other’s company, and that’s why we work so well together.”

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In the first episode of "The Groomsman," Will Knight (played by Nick Hansen) woos Courtney. (Photo courtesy of Lindsey Martinson)

‘Everybody is creative’

The first episode finds Will in the market for another tuxedo. While in his brother's store, he has a meet-cute with Courtney and quickly falls for her. Flash-forward to six months later, when he's rehearsing a proposal in the restaurant bathroom. The footage was shot in Minnesota locations, including scenes near the Aerial Lift Bridge and Pier B, and in the Twin Cities, including Jefe Urban Cocina.

Nick Hansen was lured to filmmaking by “Iron Will,” the sled dog movie starring Mackenzie Astin that brought Hollywood to the north woods. He was writing screenplays in high school, he said.

Hansen’s 2017 film “Solatium” is a fast-paced thriller about a man with bipolar disorder who witnesses a crime. It played at Duluth Superior Film Festival.

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Throughout the pandemic, Hansen has been working on his take on Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

While Anne Hansen is new to filmmaking — she’s a big reader, but until now hasn’t been a writer — she has worked behind the scenes on her son’s projects, mixing up blood-like liquids, putting bruises on people, finding props.

Martinson, too, is new to the scene. She was an extra in “Far North,” the 1988 Duluth-made movie written and directed by Sam Shepard, starring Jessica Lange and Charles Durning. While she said she doesn’t consider herself creative, her cousin disagrees.

“I believe everybody is creative,” he said. “Lindsey’s really creative and one of the best producers I’ve worked with.”

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Anne Hansen, Nick Hansen and Lindsey Martinson (Submitted photos)

Now streaming

Heirony Vision is billed as a spot to “discover or be discovered.” Among the content available for streaming: “The Great New Wonderful,” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, “Gigantic” starring Zooey Deschanel and Paul Dano, and “Big Fan” with Patton Oswalt.

Hansen was cast in an HV series, which introduced its creators to his own work as a director. The hope, for the trio, is that other episodes also land on Heironyvision.com.

In the meantime, Nick Hansen has gotten a promotion from eternal groomsman: He’s the officiant for his sister’s wedding in August.

Follow along

"The Groomsman" is on Facebook and Instagram .

I am a 20-plus year employee of the Duluth News Tribune, first as a sports reporter, briefly as a copy editor and now as a features reporter with an emphasis on arts, entertainment and oddities. I enjoy trail running, paddle boarding, reading, yoga, cooking and things that are hilarious. I live in, and celebrate, West Duluth with my elementary school aged daughter, my longtime partner, and two pandemic pets. I can be reached at (218) 279-5536 or clawler@duluthnews.com
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