ND filmmaker uses Bismarck actors for latest movie

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 6:40 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Few of us get the opportunity to act in movies. But a local man is flexing his creativity and giving local actors that opportunity by making a film populated by 50 actors from the Bismarck community.

Perry Lee is a teacher in Bismarck who moonlights as a filmmaker. He’s passionate about producing movies.

Lee is shooting his third western, and he’s including local actors.

Rich Hovland has been in several of Lee’s earlier movies, and he keeps coming back for more takes.

”It’s a blast, I kinda ended up in here by default a couple of movies ago, and as we got going, it just turned into a boatload of fun. I’d like to think we’re doing the third one because of popular demand, but I think, more likely, it’s a bunch of guys having a blast. And it turns into a pretty good movie,” said Hovland, who plays the sheriff.

Lee is the writer, producer, director, and editor. But his favorite part is seeing the way that the actors contribute to the project as a whole.

”It’s a great community thing; we’ve got at least fifty people in this movie. We’ve got all these cameo parts for people. It’s like writing a good sentence or a good paragraph: you need all the adjectives and nouns and verbs, all the commas and exclamation points. So a lot of these people, they don’t think they’re making a big difference, but they are. They’re an exclamation point,” Lee said.

One of his longtime friends has also participated in several movies. Phil Helfrich appreciates Lee for challenging him to become a better actor.

”It all goes back to fifth grade: Perry Lee and I were in the Christmas Carol together and I beat him out for the lead role. And he’s been asking me to try and prove that I’m a better actor than him this whole time. And I think I’m finally getting the chance,” said Helfrich, who plays Jericho Cane.

In addition to his filmmaking endeavors, Lee also shoots weddings and highlights for local sports teams.

Lee says he expects “Dakota Rangers III: The Gathering” to be finished by Thanksgiving. There will then be a free public screening.

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