Last fall for ABC’s In An Instant: Grizzly Bear Attack episode, Minnesota’s Silver Bay Marina became Glacier National Park, the setting of the harrowing, true story of a father and daughter - Johan Otter and Jenna Otter - who came face to face with a grizzly bear and her two cubs during a celebratory hike.
Produced by Committee Films, the re-enactments of the incidents were shot entirely in Silver Bay, Minnesota. The area’s jagged rocks, magnificent cliffs and open water were the perfect stand-ins for Glacier National Park. “Filming in Silver Bay was a great opportunity,” said Maria Awes, senior vice president of Committee Films. “I think that Silver Bay offered the perfect backdrop for the scenes that we were able to shoot.”
In their ongoing effort to support the state's economy, Committee Films have shot other productions in Minnesota in the past. Maria Awes and her husband Andy have together produced many programs for various television channels including The Travel Channel, History Channel, and the National Geographic Channel. For this grizzly bear episode of their In An Instant series, Jeremy Kasapidis, manager of the Silver Bay Marina, was the location contact and also an extra in the episode. “It’s my debut,” Kasapidis said. “We’d love to have filming crews up again,” he said. “It was a lot of fun.” The experience was a positive one for both the production and Kasapidis.
The bears featured in the docudrama are Hollywood bears who came with complete resumes and lots of show time experience. “The trainers are really professional and we had a lot of trust in them,” said Awes. In addition, the film settings were so real and authentic to the original story that it wasn’t hard for the cast, crew and audience to feel connected to the hikers’ dramatic experience as they encountered a mother grizzly bear trying to protect her two cubs in Glacier National Park.
At the time of the attack, Johan was working in occupational therapy at ScrippsHealth. He is still there now working as senior director of Occupational Health and Wellness. Since his run-in with the grizzly bear family, Johan has run the Boston Marathon six times and has continued his hikes in Glacier National Park. His daughter Jenna will graduate next month from Columbia Medical School in May will begin her residency program in Emergency medicine. Her harrowing and brave experience with the grizzly bears has inspired Jenna to pursue her career in medicine.
“In every case, the people who we interviewed have been thrilled with the way their stories have been represented,” shared Awes. “It was a lot of hours of research to figure out all of the details.” Even though it was already aired on ABC, In An Instant: Grizzly Bear Attack is still available to watch online, in case you want to check it out.
Minnesota offers film rebates of up to 25% of qualified in-state expenditures and a production that spends more than $1M in Minnesota will automatically qualify at 25%. With such competitive incentives, Minnesota has hosted numerous movie productions filming in the state including A Serious Man, The Inheritance, Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter, Memorial Day. The list of television shows filmed in Minnesota is even longer.
For more information on filming in Minnesota, visit the Minnesota Film and TV's website, a LocationsHub (and Reel-Scout) client.
For more information on the film location of In An Instant: Grizzly Bear Attack, visit the Silver Bay Marina's Facebook page.