Gayle Knutson

Local Marine filmmaker Gayle Knutson will be at the Marine Documentary Night Nov. 7 to screen several award winning films.


Gayle Knutson to present ‘Just Shoot Me – The Not So Lucrative Career of Indie Filmmaking ‘

Marine filmmaker, Gayle Knutson, will be at a screening hosted by The Marine Film Society and the Marine Community Library Nov. 7 at the Marine Village Hall. Knutson will screen two of her live action short films and two short documentaries, along with her stories of producing them. The live action short films are The Wagon and Grandfather’s Birthday. The documentaries are If There Were No Lutherans…Would There Still Be Green Jell-O? and Prisoner 32,232.  

“I wasn’t so much ‘inspired’ but rather fell into filmmaking in college (St. Cloud State) while looking for an easy major that didn’t have a lot of textbooks,” said Knutson. “I picked Mass Communications which, at the time, required you to take classes in radio, TV and filmmaking. But I didn’t like the filmmaking part as much as I liked working in radio, and eventually TV as a campus sports anchor.”

Working as a reporter and announcer for KLCD radio and WAKX radio out of college, Knutson eventually worked her way into the corporate film services department at Honeywell in Minneapolis, which would be the push she needed into filmmaking. 

“I started on the lowest rung in corporate film services at Honeywell,” she said.  “I wanted to produce and direct Honeywell’s corporate videos back then, a field so male-dominated that whenever you saw a woman on the set she was either an actor, the make-up person, or the caterer. Eventually I begged my way into the editing room.” “Then I got my big break and started directing local Guthrie and Penumbra Theater actors for Honeywell's internal communications videos, but I thought it was all going to come to a crashing end when I had a ‘roll-in-the-dirt fight’ with my cameraman on a set in New Hampshire. I thought, for sure, I would lose my job when I showed up for work the following Monday morning.  But you’ll have to come to the presentation November 7 to hear how that all ended.”

One of Knutson’s best-known indie short films, Grandfather’s Birthday, is based on one of the most-requested reruns in Ann Landers’ nationally syndicated columns. It stars Robert Prosky and has been screened in more than 60 film festivals, winning 23 awards worldwide including a Midwest Emmy in Entertainment. 

The Wagon is Knutson’s latest live action short film about two vagabond women confronting life’s harsh realities and is currently being shown on the festival circuit starring Jamie Brewer from American Horror Story and Bruce Bohme from Fargo.

If There Were No Lutherans…Would There Still Be Green Jell-O? is a documentary that recounts the story of a Norwegian resistance member captured and imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp during World War II. This award-winning documentary has been included in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s film collection in Washington, D.C. 

“People coming to the Nov. 7 Marine Documentary Night can expect two things from my short films,” she said. “They stick with you, popping back into your head every now and then, and they make you think. You’ll laugh, you’ll get teary-eyed, and you’ll go, ‘I didn’t see that coming.’ At least that’s what I hope people will take away from the screenings.”

Through all the challenges, receiving many awards, getting a phone call from Steven Spielberg’s office and screening her films worldwide, Knutson has a bigger success from all her years in filmmaking.

“My biggest accomplishment is becoming a kinder, gentler filmmaker,” said Knutson. “As a filmmaker I judge myself by the happiness of my crew after the production has wrapped. Is everyone still happy six months later? Would they be happy to have a beer with me? Would they work for me again? I’ve come a long way since my roll in the dirt with my cameraman in the mid-80s. Producing and directing isn’t just about the film itself.  It took me a while to figure that out, find my style, and become a group-hugger and team player.”

The screening will be held at the Marine Village Hall on Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 7 pm.  The screening is free of charge and accessible to all.

Marine Documentary Film Series is supported by both Marine Library Association and a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.

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