On Tuesday, Oct. 24, Mindframe Theaters hosted the big-screen premiere of the short film “Is It Snowing Where You Are?” Shown in tandem with a documentary about The Lounge, it was shot locally in and around Dubuque, and featured many people from the area.
The story follows a disgruntled college student, Todd Fischer, who leaves his school when he feels he’s wasting his life. Short on money and gas with nowhere to go, he is forced to stop over at the college of BJ, his annoying high school friend. BJ is insistent that Todd stay with him, offering to let him sleep on his couch, and eventually lending him money for gas. Todd, however, wants nothing to do with him, and debates whether or not staying there is a step backwards.
The movie was produced by Random Thought Films, an independent Dubuque-headquartered film making studio known mainly for its comedic shorts. The film was originally slated to be shot in 2015, with an almost entirely different cast. Certain scenes were filmed that year, but difficulties encountered during production caused the movie to be shelved for a year. During this time the script went through several rewrites, and a new cast was organized. Production began again in late 2016, with filming taking place on and off for nearly a year.
The cast included Pablo Garcia, Dominic Taus, and current Duhawk Brody Hooker. Several other Loras students were featured as background extras. The campus itself stood in for the fictional Durango College, with much of the movie taking place there. Scenes were filmed on the library quad, the stairs by Graber gym, and in and around Rohlman Hall. Additional scenes were shot at the Circle K on Bellevue-Cascade Road south of town, the Wisconsin-border truck stop, and the scenic overlook near Cheryl.
Director Ben Schmidt, himself a former student of Loras, claims he drew from elements of his own life and experiences in college as the primary inspiration for the film. “It was both a dream come true and the most surreal experience of my life,” he said of the premier. “I was able to share such a personal part of my life with so many strangers and people I love, and hearing the collective acclaim afterwards was just icing on the cake.”
For the moment, the production’s “theatrical run has been limited to only the single screening. But if reviews continue to be positive, as is currently case, then there is a chance the movie could be distributed further. If so, it is greatly recommended for anyone who’s experienced the icy cold tribulations of college life firsthand.