Jan 01

What Defines a Hometown?

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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.

An Interview with Tanner Anderson

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 Anderson

Theology teacher Doug Bosch interviewed Tanner Anderson 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.

Jan 01

Alumni Spotlight: Mark Engstrom

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Alumni Spotlight: Mark Engstrom’s Circle of Life | Holy Family

Mark Engstrom: He was in Holy Family’s first freshman class, graduating in 2004 with unbridled curiosity and ambition. He’s since lived in six cities, traveled the world and has landed back in Minnesota, with an incredible amount of wisdom and advice for Holy Family students and grads.

“The biggest thing Holy Family taught—achieve goals with integrity. It’s something that has served me my entire career.” —Mark Engstrom, 2004 Holy Family graduate

Alumni Profile: Mark Engstrom

Graduated: 2004

Elementary/Middle School: International School of Minnesota; John Ireland, Hopkins

Universities Attended: Purdue University (undergrad); Cornell University (MBA)

Degrees: Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Engineering (2008); MBA (2014)

Holy Family Activities:

  • Math League
  • Student Council
  • Golf

HF: You mentioned in our Passages article that your first assignment after graduating from Purdue (2008) was in Idaho. What was that experience like?

Mark: I was there for four years. At first, it was temporary. I moved from Minnesota to Idaho to work on Cargill’s biogas projects. Basically, we were taking cow manure and turning it into electricity. We’d collect the manure in a big tank about the size of a football field and 20 feet deep, heat it and collect the methane gas, which was run through a genset.  A genset is essentially a locomotive engine with a generator attached to it. When the economy tanked, Cargill scaled back businesses and cut back workforce on that project from 40 to 7. I stayed on and built out operations and optimized the portfolio. It was a great way to cut my teeth on operations and get to tinker and satisfy my curiosity.

HF: How do you think you’ve changed since graduating from Holy Family?

Mark: It’s been 14 years, I lived in six different states, had many jobs and interacted with many types of people who have contributed to the diversity of my life experience. It’s taken me out of my comfort zone and has helped me develop a greater sense of empathy. I now have a better understanding of all the different struggles people and businesses have. This has helped me both personally and professionally. It’s improved my ability to listen and to make people feel heard.

HF: What kind of specific skills did you learn at Holy Family that helped contribute to your success?

Mark: Holy Family wasn’t only focused on the academics. It included a Catholic-based curriculum that taught many core values, including stewardship and building a high EQ (Emotional Quotient). As you make your way through life, you realize the true value of EQ. It develops empathy for others and allows you to hear what others are trying to communicate. Ultimately, empathy helps you to target actions for maximum impact.

HF: Which Holy Family teachers had the greatest impact on what you are accomplishing today?

 That’s a hard question. So many are dedicated and willing to help students outside the classroom. It sets Holy Family apart. All of my teachers there were willing to do that and enjoyed doing that. If I had to name a few, I’d say:

  • Gary Kannel (Math) and Jim Walker (Chemistry). They helped build the technical foundation to be successful in engineering and translate that knowledge to finance.
  • Jorge and Jena Oconitrillo (Spanish). They helped me take my Spanish to the next level, learning the stuff outside of the textbook. I was able to talk about current events and hold conversations all in Spanish. That had a huge impact and made traveling to other countries much easier and relatable.
  • Case Unverzagt (English). U taught me how to write and made me appreciate clean and effective communication.
  • Doug Bosh (Theology). He taught me a simple lesson: Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you make a mistake, course-correct and move past it, which is a useful skill.

It’s great to see so many of them still teaching at Holy Family.

HF: How has Holy Family helped you be successful in pursuing your dreams?

Mark: I haven’t felt that any doors have been closed in front of me, which is all you can hope for. That was one of the struggles coming out of Holy Family. There are so many doors open that it can be hard to choose a path. Many students may think they are making a definitive choice each deliberate step along the way. I’ve learned there are lots of different paths to success. Take a risk and do something you’re passionate about.

Finally, don’t forget to leverage the deep network of Holy Family alumni and parents.  We are more than willing to help get you in front of the right people so that you realize your dreams.

Click on the image below to read more about alumni in STEM careers.

Oct 21

Alumni Event: MNUFC vs LA

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The response to our Twins game ticket offer was so incredible, we decided to host another event! This time the offer is for special group ticket pricing to the Minnesota United’s last match in TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday, October 21, 2018, at 4:00 p.m vs. Los Angeles Galaxy.  As an HF alum, you may purchase a ticket for yourself and one companion to the final Minnesota United home match of the season for only $20. There are 50 tickets available.  Contact Matt Thuli at thulim@hfchs.org for more information.

Join us for a pre-game gathering beginning at 2:00 p.m. at Buffalo Wild Wings near the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. Click here for directions to the restaurant. We hope you will join us, even if you are not going to the game!