Realistic WWII independent film hits the big screen

Meghann Rise

Meghann Rise

There may not be a red carpet opening with flashing cameras and big name movie stars, but the SDSU student-created film The Hill will have its Brookings screening April 17 at 7:30 p.m.

The film will be showing at the South Dakota Art Museum in the basement lecture room.

The Hill is a 30-minute independent short film about World War II. The film follows a squad through the opening stages of the European invasion and documents their everyday experiences and struggles with the war. The film also focuses on a few central characters and their psychological hardships with losing fellow squad members.

The film was created, directed and produced by various SDSU students. The cast also consists of SDSU students.

Senior history major Luke Schuetzle had the idea for the film. He, along with SDSU graduate Kellin Johnson, directed and produced the film over a span of five months. The film involved roughly forty to fifty people, both on camera and behind the scenes.

The Hill was filmed over a span of five days, and the editing and post-production process has been ongoing for the last five months.

Director Kellin Johnson has done over 50 other films and says this is his best film to date.

“How often do you get to see a World War II film that was made in South Dakota?” Johnson said. “I’ve never actually heard of it happening. It’s a dissimilar view on World War II that hasn’t been explored.”

Schuetzle proposed the idea of his film to Johnson, Scott Rasmusson and other members of Philosophika Films, including biology education major Tim Guldan. Guldan said they were impressed by Schuetzle’s knowledge and enthusiasm for World War II.

“He showed us crates full of military uniforms, weapons and many other props from that era,” Guldan said. “Needless to say, we were incredibly impressed and happily agreed to undertake his project.”

They started filming in early September and took five days to film.

“Countless hours have been spent editing and promoting since then,” said Schuetzle.

The film could not be entered into the SDSU Film Festival, which was the original plan.

“The Hill is too long for the SDSU film festival shorts, which are typically limited to 10 minutes or less,” Guldan said. “We’ve wanted to make the company as professional as possible; our own exclusive screening to the public seemed to be the next logical step.”

The film is a tribute to veterans involved in the war.

“We need to honor the veterans because that generation is passing away, and we need to tell their stories,” Schuetzle said.

The film is a result of hard work by SDSU students and showcases their many talents as filmmakers and actors.

“The completed version of The Hill will be the result of countless hours of effort given by many past and present SDSU students and their friends, and we want to give that back,” Guldan said. “The Hill also has elements of entertainment, action, inspiration and emotion.”

The film will also be shown at the West Mall Seven Theatres in Sioux Falls on April 18 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Both viewings are free.