"Dear White People" creator Justin Simien directs star Tessa Thompson during 2013 shoot/ photo by Ashley Nguyen for Roadside Attractions
"Dear White People," the critically acclaimed indie shot entirely on the University of Minnesota campus, is being made into a TV series.
Netflix announced Thursday that has signed off on a 10-episode series that will go into production later this year with a premiere date in 2017.
Lucinda Winter, executive director for the Minnesota Film and TV Board, said it;s too early to say whether the streaming service and its production partner Lionsgate will shoot the comedy in the Twin Cities, but she was quick to reach out Thursday morning to creator Justin Simien, who will also write the series and direct the first episode.
"I just congratulated him by e-mail," Winter said. "It wasn't the right time to say, 'I hope you'll be shooting here.'"
The ultimate decision on where to film the show will be up to Netflix and its production partner, Lionsgate, but Winter said she's got strong cheerleaders in Simien and original film producer Effie Brown, who has since gone on to work for the company run by "Empire" creator Lee Daniels.
"They ran around Los Angeles saying how great their experience was shooting in Minneapolis and that really matters out there," she said.
The University of Minnesota was always an odd shooting location for "White People," which told the tale of four minority students adapting to life at an Ivy League college. But Simien was atttracted to the state -- and not only for the Snowbate financial incentives, which reimburses some production expenses.
"The campus was perfect, with all the things we were looking for," Simien told the Star Tribune in 2014. "I had a lot of buddies with connections to the Guthrie and the Children's Theatre Company who had recommendations for local talent I was casting. So many people walked into the room were spot-on perfect."
Several cast members had Minnesota connections, including male lead Brandon P. Bell, who got his start at the Penumbra Theatre and attended three different Minneapolis high schools.
It was unclear whether Bell and other actors from the film would appear in the TV show.
Only a handful of series have ever shot in the Twin Cities,but the newish rebate service -- and growing respect for local talent both in front of and behind the camera - may start to change that.
Netflix's "Lady Dynamite," starring Duluth native Maria Bamford, spent more than a week shooting in Woodbury, which doubles as the comic's hometown. That autobiographical sitcom drops later this month. Winter is also hopeful that Kathryn Bigelow's series, "Recruiters," which is set in the Twin Cities, will actually shoot here. HBO hasn't officially given the series the green light, but a pilot is expected to be shot later this year. Winter said the shooting location is between Toronto and Minneapolis.
"That would be a game changer," she said.