“I’m No Dummy” latest movie produced by Blue Earth native
The last thing Blue Earth native and Mankato State University graduate Marjorie Engesser thought she would do was make a documentary movie about ‘a bunch of dummies.’
But that is exactly what she recently finished.
Engesser and her husband, Bryan W. Simon, live in Los Angeles, Calif. She is an award-winning film producer, and he is a critically acclaimed director.
For their third collaboration together, the couple made a documentary film entitled “I’m No Dummy.” It is the first feature length film about ventriloquism ever made.
The film examines and dissects the world of ventriloquism through clips, photos, and interviews with many of the greatest ventriloquists of all time.
The impressive array of new and old time ‘vents’ (as they are called) includes Tony Award winner Jay Johnson of sitcom “Soap” fame, two-time Comedian of the Year Jeff Dunham, Campus Entertainer of the Year Lynn Trefzger and the great Jimmy Nelson from Nestles Quik commercial fame
“The average documentary takes four or five years, sometimes even more, to complete,” Engesser says. “We made this feature in a year.”
During that time her husband shot over 120 hours of footage while criss-crossing the country. He interviewed over 50 individuals.
“The film explores how ventriloquists do what they do, and why they do it,” Engesser says. “It showcases the talents of old school vents like Edgar Bergen, Jimmy Nelson, Senor Wences and Paul Winchell.”
The 86-minute film had a sneak preview at the Ventriloquist’s Convention in Fort Mitchell, Ky., on July 18. It was introduced by Jimmy Nelson, last of the old school vents.
Before its screening the film’s promotional poster was inducted into Vent Haven, the world’s only museum dedicated to the art of ventriloquism.
“It’s an incredible honor,” says Engesser. “Only a couple of other people out of the thousands who are enshrined in the museum aren’t ventriloquists or figure (dummy) makers. To be included was very gratifying.”
Engesser moved to Rochester after graduating from Mankato State with a theater and speech degree. She helped form the Rochester Repertory Theater and performed there for 10 years.
Her next move was to Chicago, where she met her husband Bryan. Fifteen years ago they moved to Los Angeles to pursue their acting, producing and directing careers.
“I guess I kept progressing to ever larger cities,” she joked.
The two formed their own production company called Montivagus Productions. “I’m No Dummy” is Engesser’s first documentary, although she has produced other independent films.
“For me, the best documentaries not only inform but entertain as well,” Engesser says. “The comedy routines in this film just blow me away. And as Jeff Dunham says in the picture, ‘it’s just goofy fun.'”
Engesser returns to Blue Earth three or four times a year, she says. Her sister, Marie Northwick, owns Headlines Plus and her brother, Tom, works at Blue Earth Graphics. Her mother, Marietta, also lives here.
“I am busy planning my 40th class reunion for next year,” Engesser says. “I guess that dates my age pretty well.”
She was very active in the theater productions at Blue Earth, and even directed a high school play here while at MSU.
Engesser is most excited about this new film, calling it a highlight of her career.
“I’m No Dummy” will begin it’s theatrical run at film festivals in October before moving to theaters in Los Angeles and New York. From there it will move on to cable television and DVD.
A two-minute trailer for this movie can be seen on YouTube by typing I’m No Dummy in the search window.
Next on the agenda for this directing and producing husband-wife duo is a return to their scripted film roots. They are going to work on a crime thriller entitled “Crooked Creek.”
Engesser will do the producing and Simon, who wrote the script, will direct it.
“We expect to begin production this fall,” says Engesser, who is already getting excited for the project.
“I just love what I do,” she says.“I have fun every day.”