MSUM students featured in Fargo Film Festival

They’re filmmakers, and they walk among us.

Using skills learned at the only full-fledged film program in the state, two MSUM students are sharing their art with the regional cinema scene.

Conor Holt

Conor Holt

Film seniors Conor Holt and Matt Eckholm will screen their short sci-fi movies this week at the 13th annual Fargo Film Festival, which kicks off tonight at the Fargo Theatre.

Eckholm’s work, “Try Number Three,” shows the exploits of two men who try to sell a woman a watch she doesn’t think she needs. The seven-minute film will play at 11:15 a.m. on Thursday. Holt’s film, the 12-minute “A Better Life,” explores the travails of a woman who uses a remote-control-like device to command her ailing husband. It will play at 1:50 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s a subtle film,” Holt said. “I do hope there’s a certain edge the film has with its implications.”

Matt Eckholm

Matt Eckholm

Holt said he is planning to submit “A Better Life” to several major festivals, including Utah’s Sundance, which he attended in January.

Eckholm said entering festivals is the best way to get exposure as a filmmaker. His film has already shown at events in South Dakota, Nevada and the Twin Cities.

“I just want to make enough money so I never have to stop making films,” he said. (I want to) keep getting into festivals and never quit creating art.”

Although he would love to be a blockbuster Hollywood success, Eckholm said his long-term goal is to work in Minnesota.

He put things into perspective: “I have to be realistic about it. Just to jump out to LA and become a production assistant for the rest of my life is not my goal. I have just about the same chance of making it here than I do there.”

Filmmaking is a tough business, Holt said. After more than a year of scriptwriting, filming and editing, he spent last weekend making finishing touches to his film’s score. He also has been helping with film festival promotion.

“Fargo’s a nice festival,” Holt said. “They do the best with what they have and I like that. It’s getting better every year. There’s a certain charm to Fargo as well.”

Fargo Theatre executive director Emily Beck said it’s “tremendously important” to get students involved with the festival. Besides the “Student Film” category, there’s a 2-minute movie contest, an annual favorite, which features work from college students and other filmmakers around the area. And this year for the first time, the event includes professionally led educational aspects – a screenwriting workshop and a production expo.

“We want students to take advantage,” Beck said, “so they can get to work with these people and have these learning experiences.”

For a complete schedule and ticket information, check out


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