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Movie featuring Laurence Fishburne filming in Owatonna

A movie crew has been hard at work in Minnesota, producing a movie about a football team in Texas.

OWATONNA, Minn. - There's no walk of fame in downtown Owatonna, but for the past two weeks, a movie crew has paraded through town.

Movie director Todd Randall, a one-time KARE 11 employee, is in the southern Minnesota town shooting a movie about a central Texas town. The movie is based on a book, "Brother's Keeper," a true story of the 2009 Abilene high school football team.

"Abilene is a tough town," Randall said. "And they deal with a lot of really tough issues."

Chad Mitchell is the chaplain for the Abilene team that, in 2009, entered the season unranked. Mitchell says the players faced many incredible challenges in their personal lives but banded together to win the state championship.

"It's more than just a typical football movie, it's about story that can literally change the world," said Mitchell, who came to Minnesota to help guide the actors during the shoot. The story follows Mitchell's family along with the team.

"It's an amazing story and I'm just honored to be able to play him and bring truth to his book about him," said actor Milo Gibson, who plays Mitchell in the movie.

The story also inspired actor Laurence Fishburne to get involved. The acclaimed actor spent time in Owatonna earlier in the week to shoot several scenes. He plays the owner of a barbeque restaurant that served as a rallying place for the team.

"It's a little tiny, indie, low-budget movie and we just got lucky enough to have the people that we have on our cast and our crew," Randall said.

That crew also includes Minnesotans, like students at Hennepin Technical College who helped with the production, and several local actors in smaller roles. The Owatonna high school band will be among several local students called on to play extras in the final days of shooting later this week.

Even though the main actors are from elsewhere, they say they've felt at home during filming.

"It's been very relaxing," said actor Abigail Hawk. "It's been a little hot, but you know we're filming a move about Texas so I guess that's appropriate."

Randall says it made sense to shoot in Minnesota because of the budget constraints and incentives offered to filmmakers. However, you won't recognize much of Owatonna when the movie releases next spring. The crew will travel to Texas in the fall to shoot exteriors and all of the football.

"So that the whole narrative can come together and be cohesive and really be about Abilene at its core and about the story, 'Brother's Keeper,'" Randall said.

The opportunity to shoot his first movie in his home state, is also an opportunity Randall says he still can't believe.

"Amazing. I'm absolutely blessed to be in the position that I'm in," he said. "It's been hard but it's been incredible all at the same time."

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