On November 15, Tanner Anderson ’05 saw a long-time dream come to fruition, when his production company’s first feature film, The Turkey Bowl, was released nationwide. It’s the story of a 30-something urbanite pulled back to his rural hometown by his high school buddies on Thanksgiving to finish The Turkey Bowl – an epic football game against their crosstown rivals.
Recently, senior Quinn Jenkins, a bit of a movie buff himself, caught up with Tanner to learn more about his journey from Holy Family student-athlete to Hollywood movie producer and actor.
Quinn: Hollywood is a long way from Victoria, MN. What sparked your interest in acting and movie production? And how did you end up in Hollywood?
Tanner: I’ve always had a creative side, but I recall a moment when I felt the spark. It was January 22, 2008, and my roommates were watching the news. Heath Ledger had just passed away, and they were showing the first trailer to The Dark Knight, and I was mesmerized by the idea that I could escape and be someone entirely different from myself like Heath had done with The Joker. That even though he had tragically passed away, this character would live on forever. That night, I called my dad and told him I was going to be an actor. To his credit, without hesitation, he said, “I think that’s a great idea. Finish your commitment to Hamline first.” That gave me a lot of confidence, knowing I had his support, so I started taking acting classes at the Guthrie Theater.
The following summer, I took a six-week film course while studying abroad in Australia. I loved it. For the first time, I wasn’t Tanner, the basketball player; I was Tanner, the actor, and felt totally alive. During my senior year at Hamline, I auditioned for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles and got accepted. I finished its two-year program and continued for a third year in their highly competitive theater group. I remember one of my acting coaches telling me that I had talent, but wouldn’t work until I was 35 because my size and deep voice, didn’t fit my boyish features. I had to allow myself to age before having a career. She was right. Long story short, I was 27 years old, working five nights a week at a restaurant and taking acting classes on my days off. I couldn’t even get an agent, so I wasn’t auditioning. It’s a fork in the road moment for me. I was going to wake up and be 40 still working at a restaurant, changing careers and moving back to Minnesota, or I was going to figure out a way to make it happen on my own. So, I decided I’d have to produce my way into the industry, do every facet of the business, creating my stuff from start to finish. All so I could act. I read book after book about starting your own production company, made a business plan, found investors, and Make It Take It Productions was born.
Quinn: How did your company get involved with this movie?
Tanner: We found some magic with a short film, Graffiti, we did. I viewed that film as a business card to show people in the industry what we were capable of creating. I wrote, produced, and acted in it alongside Golden Globe and Emmy nominated actor John Heard. A pretty well-known writer/director Greg Coolidge saw the film and was impressed, so he sent me the script for The Turkey Bowl. That’s how it all started.
Quinn: Does any part of this movie resonate with your personal story?
Tanner: The movie is about the love of your hometown and rediscovering what made it special to you as a kid. For me, when I think of home, I think of Holy Family, not Eden Prairie or Hamline. Holy Family was a central force in my life. If it weren’t for Holy Family, there is no way I’d be doing what I’m doing. It laid the foundation for who I am as a man. It taught me how to find my footing in a new place, where I didn’t know anyone. The academics pushed me to put in hard work, and playing for the basketball team showed what it takes to be a leader — just the culture of the place instilled in me the importance of treating others with respect and dignity.
Quinn: Anything you’d like to add?
Tanner: You know, I ended up at Holy Family in only its third year of existence because the big public school system was not a good fit for me. My mom encouraged me to be a part of building something, instead of taking the more comfortable path at an established private school. It was the best decision of my life. I’m very proud of those first graduating classes and what we built for the future students attending Holy Family. The school gave me opportunities to build confidence and tools to succeed, and for that, I’m forever indebted and grateful.
Other media with Tanner
Theology teacher Doug Bosch interviewed Tanner in front of a live audience during Convocation for Holy Family’s podcast, Inside 8101. Tanner shared a deep appreciation for Holy Family and his teachers. Listen HERE or click on the video button to watch the episode.
Kare-11 Breaking the News
Current Holy Family basketball coach Matt Thuli was Tanner’s coach from 2001-2005. Kare-11 featured the difference Coach Thuli made, and continues to make, in Tanner’s life. Click on the video below to watch the segment.