U.P. Brothers Shoot Major Motion Picture Celebrating Yooper Culture and Values

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What movie has lovable rural characters and a wild story set in the Northwoods? No, I’m not talking about Escanaba in da Moonlight, though this new film does have a few well-known stars in its cast, too! Anders and Davin Lindwall, brothers from Iron County, are taking a decidedly different approach to the portrayal of small-town life and values in their new film called God Loves the Green Bay Packers that just finished shooting in earlier this month. 

The Lindwall brothers are making history as the first Iron County natives to produce a major motion picture. Both got their start in film and photography from multi-media teacher, Lee Rometti, who is still teaching those classes at the local high school today. 

The pair formed a film company in 2016 and have been doing commercial work since then, creating ads for recognizable brands like Otterbox, National Geographic and Nike, but it was always their dream to make a feature-length film that captures the essence of the beauty of their childhood home in the U.P.

This November their dream came true with the completion of their first movie called God Loves the Green Bay Packers. Anders was the writer and director while Davin was the lead producer. For 18 days they, and a crew of about sixty staff and actors, worked tirelessly to produce what is a heartwarming story about “an old farmer and his granddaughter who attempt a hail mary play to save their life’s work and the legacy of four generations.” 

The Lindwalls intimated that the idea for the film had come to them many years ago, but really started to get traction in 2019 when a commercial client took interest in their work. “He asked us what movie we really wanted to make,” Anders explained, “and on a long shot, we decided to pitch him our Packers film concept and it resonated.” That client became an investor and the concept was received with enthusiasm by others, becoming fully-funded in 2020. “I think it resonated because it’s a story that has a lot of goodness to it.”  

The film stars Craig T. Nelson as the main character in the role of an old farmer named “Buck.” Nelson’s distinguished acting career includes starring roles in the sitcom Coach, for which he won an Emmy, and as Mr. Incredible in The Incredibles (2004) and its sequel (2018). 

About casting Nelson, Anders said, “We thought ‘who would make a good old farmer?’ and we thought of Craig. He’s classic – he’s both tough and grizzly, but also sweet and relatable. Craig was the first actor to read the script and he loved it. He called us up the next day and said, ‘You know, I read scripts every day, but this one is different. I want to be a part of it.’ Craig doesn’t fly out to make indie movies in the rural Midwest, so this is a pretty big deal for him to come out here and work with us.” 

The movie features other big names including Charlie Berens, M. Emmet Walsh, and retired Packers defensive back, LeRoy Butler, who is credited with inventing the “Lambeau Leap.”

Though the film stars some big names, the Lindwalls’ focus has been on trying to communicate the values instilled in them by their hometown. “The humans in this film are not meant to be tropey caricatures like something in Fargo,” Anders said. “They carry an authenticity and an earnestness about the simplicity to which they exist, prioritizing above all things the most valuable gift of life: time, and time together. In a culture that pedestals charismatic figures, our story celebrates faithfulness. As Fred Rogers said, ‘I find it’s not the fancy people in life who seem to nourish my soul.”

Davin echoed that sentiment saying, “This film is ultimately a celebration of a people and place we love, which is often overlooked. This was our chance to show the rest of the world why it’s special.” In holding close to their values of celebrating their small town, the Lindwalls included many people from Iron County in the production. West Iron County High School senior, Ryan Piwarski, headed up the behind-the-scenes video footage for the duration of the filming process, and sixteen singers from Iron County took on the task of becoming a choir for the final scene in the movie. Several other locals were used as extras in various scenes, as well.

“We can’t fully express the gratitude we feel for our local community,” Anders said. “Each person embodied in one short day what I’ve experienced my whole life: community members rallying to stand behind their local boys as an act of gracious love and support. To have folks from our hometown share in this project adds a level of depth and authenticity to this film that’s been felt by everyone in the crew.” 

Lindwall shared the last thing Nelson said to him as the final day of filming wrapped: “Anders, I’ve been making films for a lot of years and this one had more heart in it than anything I’ve ever done. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good movie, but it will be true.” 

God Loves the Green Bay Packers officially wrapped shooting on November 6th and is now in the post-production phase of editing and securing a distributor. It is slated to be released in the summer of 2022. This will be the first major motion picture written and directed by Yoopers in many years. It is something that the U.P. can feel a proud ownership of, knowing that so many of our own contributed to its making and that the values of our Yooper heritage will be in the spotlight for the world to see.

A photo from behind the scenes shows the actors (Madison Lawlor and Craig T. Nelson) playing a game of Smear, a nod to a favorite Yooper card game. (Davin Lindwall photo)

A still from the set where the choir scenes were filmed. The people of the choir are all Iron County residents who rehearsed for weeks to learn songs written for the movie. (Davin Lindwall photo)

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Erika Sauter

Erika Sauter is the Director for the Iron County Historical & Museum Society in Caspian, Michigan. She is an Iron County native with a passion for community development and historical preservation, the two of which she has worked in professionally for the last five years. Sauter is also a published children’s book author, and enjoys writing about and sharing local history as part of her role at the museum.

33 Comments

  1. Nancy on December 10, 2021 at 7:52 am

    Can’t wait to see this when it comes out! We moved to the UP IN 1971, so most of my life has been lived in the UP. I am more Yooper than anything else.

  2. Mary Steele on December 10, 2021 at 8:09 am

    I grew up in Menominee, MI and went to college in Houghton, so anything that celebrates the awesome people and culture of the U.P. is exciting! Really looking forward to this!

    • Susan on December 10, 2021 at 9:51 am

      This is great, I was born and raised in the U.P. can’t wait to see this movie

      • Randall R. Kniess on December 13, 2021 at 6:52 pm

        Having grown up on the Gibbs City Road with fond memories of the late 1950’s all the way through 1974 before I got married, I hope to see this film.
        Sadly when the iron mines closed down, the area fell into an economic funk that has never really been overcome. I finally left Iron River behind in 1981 when I left to find work. I no longer have my parents or my siblings to visit. So when I do go back, it leaves me depressed to see what has happened. It definitely has changed since the river ran red.

        • Mary Bourgo Knox on December 15, 2021 at 11:05 am

          I grew up in Iron River. I know the feeling of the changes. Great times in the 50’s and early 60’s.

  3. Ellen McCarthy on December 10, 2021 at 8:23 am

    Wow so cool. Can’t wait to see this movie.

  4. Monica Thoune on December 10, 2021 at 8:58 am

    Finally – a movie that shows us as something more than a beer swilling, “Ya, eh?” culture. Not that I don’t like a good beer. 😉

    • Paul Thoune on December 13, 2021 at 7:48 am

      Hey! I don’t entirely not resemble that moniker Monica 😉

  5. Shelley Elmblad on December 10, 2021 at 9:45 am

    I’m excited to see this movie!

  6. Yvonne Plekan on December 10, 2021 at 11:31 am

    I’m a Yooper living in Wisconsin and raised my kids as Packer fans. Mom still lives in U.P. so visit frequently. I have a son interested in film and has his degree in radio,television and film. He works for WBAY in G.B. This film interests me in every way. Small town boys gets backing to make a film and just being proud of U.P. heritage. Can’t wait!

  7. Cheryl Vargo Wetner on December 10, 2021 at 11:41 am

    The Packers are from Wisonsin. The movie loses authenticity about Yoopers.

    • Pam W on December 10, 2021 at 12:12 pm

      Yup! TOTALLY agree with ya on this!

      • DARYL HUHTALA on December 11, 2021 at 9:12 pm

        All my yooper cousins and uncles were Packer fans. Dad and I up on vacation from the Lower just kept pretty quiet.

    • W Hoffman on December 10, 2021 at 2:19 pm

      Wrong! Way more Packers fans here than any other team fans. Us Yoopers have much more in common with Green Bay & the Packers than Detroit or the Lions. Go Pack!!

      • Susan on December 11, 2021 at 6:26 am

        I agree with you W Hoffman. If not for the Mackinac bridge, the UP would be northern Wisconsin!!

        • Jim Katakowski on December 17, 2021 at 7:05 am

          Did you forget about the Ferry’s that used to transport cars before the bridge at St Ignace. Michigan got the UP and Ohio got Toledo in the war with no shots fired. Also to add there was a movie with a couple young college boys biking in the Keweenaw finding their ways. I believe with Vietnam war conflict and what to do with themselves. I know the cast ate dinner at the famous Dreamland Hotel (not a hotel anymore) off the Bootjack road 10 miles from Lake Linden. Can’t remember the name of that movie.

      • Luella Besch on December 12, 2021 at 2:57 pm

        I so agree! My nephew is Steve Mariucci, Brett Favres quarterback coach, and our whole family have always been Packer fans! We have so much more in common with Green Bay than with Detroit! Although there are a lot of misguided Lions and even Bears fans up here! We pray for them!

    • Joanna Miller on December 11, 2021 at 1:03 pm

      I think you may be wrong. When I lived in the U.P., mid-August ended saw parents hauling their kids to Green Bay to do school shopping and to end the day with “We go Green Lobster.” I didn’t know a soul who was a Detroit Lions fan, but anyone who loved football was a Green Bay fan. So, cheering for Green Bay Packers is a very authentic Yooper thing.

    • Jim Katakowski on December 17, 2021 at 6:15 am

      You do know that most Yoopers are Packer fans, especially those on the west side of the UP. So your point is not well taken. Heck most of Michigan is losing their fanship to the always disappointing Lions.

  8. Mike Lilliquist on December 10, 2021 at 12:16 pm

    I’m spreading the word! Been a Yooper for 70+ years, so looking forward to this one. Thank you for letting people know how lucky we are to live U.P. Here. I’ve managed the St. Ignace Welcome Center ( MDOT) for 33 years, love telling people about all the things to see and do in the U. P., keep up the good work!

  9. Barb Wirt on December 10, 2021 at 2:30 pm

    As a UP native transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, I fully appreciate any book or movie that celebrates my original home. I still prefer the Packers to the Seahawks and never felt any affinity for the Lions. We’re Zag fans since we live in Spokane, but we went to Michigan schools so we support them too. We look forward to our postponed 55 year class reunion in 2022. Can’t wait to see this movie. Well done.

  10. Carrie L Hebert on December 11, 2021 at 5:53 am

    This is so refreshing and a great way to show the love of the U.P and growing up in God’s Country.

  11. Beverly DeMers on December 11, 2021 at 10:29 am

    My husband is a Yooper from Menominee,and we currently live in the EUP. Looking forward to seeing this film.As a transplanted Easterner who fell in love with the UP on our honeymoon a film celebrating the wonderful country and the wonderful people of the UP is so welcome!

  12. Karen phelps on December 11, 2021 at 12:13 pm

    There are some who like the Green Bay Packers!! But Yoopers are Upper Michigan born and raised!! If you live in Wisconsin your not a yooper!!

    • Dora Dennison Cataldo on December 18, 2021 at 10:50 am

      I disagree on that I was raised in Alvin WI but we went to school in Iron River MI I’m 100% a yooper

  13. Lisa on December 11, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    I’m a Yooper through n through. Lived in a real small rural town named Rock, between Little Lake n Escanaba. Had to move south due to my arthritis being so bad. Still have the Yooper blood n go home every other summer to visit for a month. Time for eating pasties, berry picking, drinking root beer floats n seeing family. But I love the Green Bay Packers n have always been a very big fan of there’s. Yup, I’m a “cheese-head” n wouldn’t want it any other way.

  14. Dennis Martell on December 11, 2021 at 11:46 pm

    A super dooper Yooper movie! What could be better than that! As a living, breathing, pasty eating Yooper who now lives in the land of Trolls, my blood still runs cold as Lake Superior in November! Cant wait to see it!! Three cheers for the State of Superior!

  15. Penny on December 13, 2021 at 8:25 am

    Congratulations to the Lindwall boys from my home town! I come “home” every summer to enjoy the beauty of the UP. Can’t wait to see the movie. Great write up Erika. So very proud of you, too!

  16. Emily Sanderson Biertzer on December 13, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    Proud of you guys. Looking forward to watching. Go pack go!

  17. Beth and Davis on December 14, 2021 at 11:32 am

    Is that Oscar buzz?
    Or just the black flies…….

  18. Tasha on December 15, 2021 at 9:45 am

    I am so very proud of every bit of this coming from my hometown! Way to go Lindwalls with representing our Yooper pride and of course Go Pack Go! Oh and that Smear scene is epic! 🙂

  19. Carolyn moore on December 15, 2021 at 11:09 am

    I was raised in (iron county ) born in iron river mi my maiden name is (Bobnock) I can’t wait for this movie I was so disappointed when I watched Escanaba in the moonlight and when the American pickers came through I moved away 3 years ago I now live by Myrtle beach sc but most often my heart along with my family and my husband’s family is in Yooperland

  20. Rick Shivald on December 19, 2021 at 11:53 pm

    Good stuff! Born and raised in the UP/Northern Wisconsin. I identify more with the land mass we shared with Wisconsin than the one that’s under the bridge. Congratulations Lindwall Boys and the five plus generations of Yoopers behind yas!

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