Though the film and television show Fargo is named for the eastern North Dakota city, the setting of both emulates the cold, wintery environment of the entire state.
Though the film and television show Fargo is named for the eastern North Dakota city, the setting of both emulates the cold, wintery environment of the entire state. The producers of the FX network’s Fargo decided to utilize a well known attraction on the west side of the state when it was compiling trailers and teasers leading up the series premier last year.
Gary Greff started the Enchanted Highway in 1989 and his sculptures have gained notoriety ever since. Greff was contacted by people involved with the production early in 2014. They were interested in filming the landmark, and got Greff’s story to go along with it.
So how did they know to contact Grefff?
It was his sculptures that first got their attention.
“They contacted me because of the Enchanted Highway,” Greff said. “Somebody saw the Enchanted Highway on the website, they thought it would be a perfect fit for promoting that (Fargo).”
A crew was sent from California for filming. Greff said there must have been more than 50 people on the production team.
When they were in the region filming, they actually shot footage for three trailers, two focused on the Enchanted Highway, and one in a local store, Mott Equity.
At Mott they recruited Greff and four of the business’ employees to be actors in the trailer, though only three employees made the final cut.
Greff portrayed Billy Bob Thornton’s character Lorne Malvo pulling a cart down an aisle and placing certain items in the cart, though only Greff’s hands were visible.
“I was Billy Bob Thornton’s hands,” Greff said. “They just needed somebody, and I said yeah I’ll do it.”
The three employees portrayed two customers and a worker behind the counter.
Mott Equity General Manager Sherry Friedt said seeing what went into a production was the most interesting part.
“It was just a neat experience seeing how they make these movies, and how many people are actually involved to do it,” Friedt said. “We were shocked how many times they had to redo the same scene over and over, it was just amazing how many times they had to do it before they had it perfect.”
Greff echoed those same sentiments when asked what he thought about the whole process, saying that after he saw how many people it took just to film a promo he couldn’t imagine what it takes to make a whole movie.
Though patrons to the business probably could recognize it on the trailer, much of the signage was removed before filming began.
Prior to the start of the production at Mott Equity, they did a walk through of the business to scout it out, filming started after business hours were over.
When they went out to the Enchanted Highway, they did the first promo at The Tin Family sculpture, and before they started shooting they had to get the location just perfect.
Part of that perfection was their desire to have the ground completely covered by snow, making sure no ground was exposed. Greff’s nephew was called to help with the effort and took half-a-day to move snow with his skid steer.
In the trailer the scene starts looking at The Tin Family, then from the right side of the frame a car drives through the shot. You can here the car stop and it reverses back into sight. The car stops briefly and then drives off again. Leaving what appears to be a body behind in front of the sculptures.
Greff again got some screen time, kind of. Producers needed a car for the scene, so again Greff offered up his services and it was used in the promo.
About two weeks after the first scenes were shot, a smaller crew came out to do a promo featuring Greff and his metal artwork.
This feature was a two-and-a-half minute summary of Greff and what led him to creating the Enchanted Highway. It takes viewers through different sculptures while Greff himself is narrating his own story, ending with an advertising shot for Fargo.
Greff said he enjoyed the experience, but had his doubts when he received that first phone call.
“I thought it was sort of neat, at first you know you wonder if it’s for real,” Greff said.
For his involvement of the promotional materials, Greff was invited to the series premier at the Fargo Theater in Fargo last spring.
All three promos were shot, and released in 2014, Greff’s Enchanted Highway promo has been making it around the web lately as buzz is starting to build near the second anniversary of the series premier which was April 15. The second season begins this fall.
For anyone interested in viewing the three trailers, they can be found on the show’s Facebook page and the network’s website.