I'll have to spend some time when this experience is over to reflect on it more clearly, but for now, it's just a matter of documenting the incredible experience of making "SOUVENIRS."

From WCCO:

'Souvenirs' Movie Shoot Puts Iraq Near Mankato

It's not every day that journalists get to ride in Chinook helicopters. Of course, it's not every day the Minnesota National Guard is promoting a film about a soldier.

Around 9 o'clock Saturday morning, soldiers escorted 11 Twin Cities news people onto a Chinook helicopter. A half hour later, the chopper touched down in the Kasota Quarry outside Mankato.

That's where the movie "Souvenirs" is being shot. It's a fictional story about a Minnesota Red Bull named Kyle Vogel. When Vogel was 13, he found his grandfather's World War II footlocker and pushed him to tell stories of three items inside. The movie flashes back to the grandfather's service in WWII and forward to Vogel's time in Iraq.

"It's not about just the fighting and what happens in war," said actor Jonathan Bennett, who plays Kyle Vogel. "It's kind of about what happens after war, and why don't we talk about it."

St. Paul resident Marc Conklin wrote the script.

"The funny thing is we're not actually making a war movie. We're making a family movie," he said. "It covers two wars and two places and two different times, but it's really about what happens on a porch between a grandfather and a grandson over lemonade."

There's a famous face in the film, James Cromwell, who was nominated for an Oscar for his part in "Babe." He wasn't on set Saturday, but his son, John Cromwell, was. The Cromwells play the same character, Bud Vogel. John Cromwell plays his as a young man, James Cromwell as an older one.

"I won't be working with him," said John Cromwell. "On the same project. It will be fun to be on the same project."

There are 110 Minnesotans working on "Souvenirs." John Cromwell is one of them. His mother's family is from Medina.

"I got a job out here a couple years ago and came out, and I just like it out here and I stayed," he said.

Lt. Col. John Clearwater was on the set. He used to work in Special Operations, but last week he started a new job in the Army's Los Angeles Entertainment office. Clearwater said movies like "Souvenirs" help American understand and support their military.

"Films are a popular form of communication for the American public," said Clearwater. "It's a good way, among others, of getting the story out, of telling the story of the American soldier."

The Minnesota Guard and the Department of Defense are playing a key role in "Souvenirs." They're providing equipment, vehicles and advice.

Clearwater spent two years in Iraq. When asked if the quarry looked like a war zone, he said, "Through the lens of a camera, they'll pull it off. And that's what counts."


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