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Fargo film set sees former area residents return from Los Angeles, Minneapolis

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Minnesota State University Moorhead graduate Jake Reeder sets up camera tracking for the filming of "Tankhouse" in the Goodyear Building in downtown Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO — For most of the cast and crew of “Tankhouse,” filming in downtown Fargo is a real change from their usual sets in Los Angeles or Minneapolis.

For Benjamin Roembach-Clark , the sites are familiar but the sensation is totally different.

“It’s surreal,” he said. “I’m usually in strange places when I’m making movies. Now I’m in my hometown.”

The 2004 Fargo South High graduate is one of a handful on the set who has called Fargo-Moorhead home.

The Minneapolis-based sound mixer is responsible for making sure the audio is recorded crisp and clean, but he wasn’t always into film. In fact, Tuesday’s shoot inside the Fargo Theatre was the first time he’d been in the main theater.

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Benjamin Roembach-Clark, who is originally from Fargo, monitors the sound during the filming of "Tankhouse" at the Fargo Theatre in downtown Fargo on Tuesday, Sept. 24. David Samson / The Forum

His return to Fargo is literally a homecoming as he and his boom microphone-operating friend are bunking at home with his parents, Greg and Jeanine.

“It’s just like high school but they’re not on my case about grades or curfew,” he said with a laugh.

Being part of a crew filming in his hometown carries some other responsibilities, like offering suggestions when people ask where to eat.

“It’s easy to recommend places like the Hotel Donaldson and Mezzaluna. They are always good,” he said.

It’s a role Jake Reeder is familiar with as well. The 2016 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead finished with a film production degree. When he’s not working as a key grip — rigging lights and cameras — he’s offering guidance on where the cast and crew should go for drinks at the end of a 12-hour day. Dempsey’s in downtown Fargo has become a favorite.

“There’s no getting around it, Fargoans like to drink,” Reeder said. “It’s cheap here. You can’t afford to drink like this in Los Angeles unless you’re rich.”

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The cast and crew don’t have an abundance of free time on their hands as most are working long days, he explained as he takes a shot of an immunity drink to keep him on a steady pace for the long production schedule.

Despite his knowledge of the local scene, Reeder had to interview for the job and got it for the skills he brings to the set, not for the certain bars he recommends to the cast.

“It’s awesome to earn the right to do a Los Angeles-caliber job in the place I learned my craft and to show my LA friends where I came from,” he said.

Reeder and Roembach-Clark aren’t the only locals on the set. Fargo native Jesse Burgum is in front and behind the camera as an actor and producer.

Reeder hasn’t had much down time, but hopes to get to Sickies Garage for a burger before shooting wraps.

“(The cast and crew) like the food here. It’s not like LA. Everything is grilled or fried and big portions,” he said.

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Drinking and eating isn’t all the out-of-towners have done with their spare time. Roembach-Clark says he’s been pointing some to museums, and Reeder says a trip to Thunder Road to drive go-karts was a big hit.

“They like the small-town vibe here, walking down the street and knowing people. Some of the people from LA have never experienced this,” he said.

“Here it seems like everyone is really friendly, really helpful, actually,” Roembach-Clark said about how the public has taken to filming. “It’s very positive. More often than not people are frustrated with us being there.”

For 20 years John Lamb has covered art, entertainment and lifestyle stories in the area for The Forum.
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