Minari at the Oscars

From Oklahoma to the Oscars, “Minari” Shines a Spotlight on Local Film Industry

With mounting acclaim from both critics and audiences alike, the Oklahoma-made movie “Minari” continues to shine a spotlight on the state’s camera-ready workforce, innovative businesses and film-friendly cities and locations. The A24 film, which is currently in theatres and on-demand, has garnered a steady stream of awards recognition leading up to this weekend’s Academy Awards where it is nominated in six categories, including Best Picture of the Year.

“Minari” began filming in Oklahoma on July 15, 2019, and created over 180 local jobs. While the script is set in Arkansas, the complete filming of “Minari” took place in Oklahoma with the City of Tulsa serving as the primary hub for the production. Additional filming took place in and around the Tulsa area, including the communities of Sand Springs, Broken Arrow, Skiatook and Rose.

One of the film’s primary locations was Meadow Lake Ranch located just outside Tulsa in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. With over 260 acres of hiking trails, rolling prairies, spring-fed lakes, limestone bluffs and more, the ranch, which traditionally functions as a bed  & breakfast, dude ranch and venue for weddings and corporate events, hosted the production for over two weeks. The filmmakers worked with Meadow Lake owners Tom and Suzy Warren to transport a mobile home on-site as well as construct other elements on-site as called for by the script, which chronicles the lives of a Korean family starting a new life on a farm. As the popularity of the film has risen, so has interest from new audiences in Meadow Lake Ranch.

“Their notoriety has translated into more interest in Meadow Lake Ranch as a movie venue, bed & breakfast and vacation getaway,” said co-owner Tom Warren. “Meadow Lake Ranch has been featured in articles and interviews about our positive experiences with ‘Minari’ and its remarkable success several times. We have enjoyed an uptick in bookings as a result of hosting ‘Minari’ at our ranch.”

For local industry member Melissa Caswell, working on “Minari” marked her first experience working as a basecamp production assistant on a feature film, an opportunity from which she learned a lot and has since gained additional work on projects filming in Oklahoma. One of her favorite memories from the production of “Minari” was the invitation to watch some of the scenes being filmed on-set.

“One day, the second assistant director (2nd AD), knowing I had very little film experience, invited me to come on set to watch how they filmed rain scenes. I was […] touched by the invite; he was very busy, but he still thought to invite me down there to experience that,” says Caswell. “It was just incredible, watching the actors perform and getting a peek at some of the behind-the-scenes tricks they use in movies.”

Jeff Dubray, first assistant director (1st AD), echoes the positive experiences of many local crew members like Caswell, and will be rooting for the Oklahoma-made movie at this weekend’s Academy Awards ceremony where the film is nominated in six categories, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Score and Best Original Screenplay.

“I always knew it had an outside shot at Oscar nominations when we were making it, so it’s nice to actually see that wild dream come true,” said Dubray.

The film has already made Oscar history with lead actor Steven Yeun’s (“The Walking Dead”) nomination for Best Actor, cementing the first time in Oscars history an Asian-American actor has been recognized as such. Additionally, the film has had an impressive awards performance run leading up to the Academy Awards with previous wins, including the Golden Globe (Best Foreign Film), the Screen Actors Guild (Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role), the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) (Supporting Actress) and the Critics’ Choice Award (Best Young Actor or Actress).

“Our office wishes to congratulate the filmmakers of ‘Minari’ on the great accomplishments of their film thus far, and wish them much success at the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony,” said Oklahoma Film + Music Office (OF+MO) Director Tava Maloy Sofsky. “Even more so, we wish to thank our state and city leadership as well as our local crew, businesses and film-friendly locations and communities for their contributions and collaborative efforts on the film. Together, we keep raising the bar, and we look forward to the future of the state’s film, television and music industries with you.”

OF+MO will publish an exclusive video discussion via its YouTube page highlighting more local success stories from the filming of “Minari” in Oklahoma. More details will be announced soon on this release, which will broadcast shortly after the Academy Awards ceremony and ahead of the film’s DVD release in May. Additionally, the Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Arts & Culture has published a series of Tulsa Crew Spotlights featuring Q&A’s with the “Minari” crew, which you can explore at visittulsa.org.

The 2021 Academy Awards will air on Sunday, April 25, 2021, beginning at 7:00 p.m. CDT on the ABC Network. For more information, check your local listings.

For more information on Oklahoma’s film infrastructure, workforce and other resources, visit okfilmmusic.org.

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About Oklahoma Film + Music Office
Created in 1979, the Oklahoma Film + Music Office (OF+MO) strives to share all that Oklahoma has to offer by welcoming filmmakers and music professionals to the state and by creating a network of support to develop Oklahoma’s film and music industries. For more information about the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program or the Oklahoma Film + Music Office, visit okfilmmusic.org.

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