Someone You Should Know: Mitchell native directs first movie

Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 6:14 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A South Dakota native is working her way up in Hollywood, she recently directed her first movie which premiered in her home state this past weekend.

Charlie Buhler grew up in Mitchell and found a passion for the big screen at a young age.

“I loved movies, so like since I was a little kid I would take my parents’ camcorder and have all my friends act out movies and I would always direct them. But I didn’t really think about filmmaking as a career because it just felt like Oz to me. Like Hollywood, it felt so far away,” said Charlie.

Charlie was going to follow her parents’ footsteps into the medical field at Notre Dame. But that changed when she took some theater classes and went down a new career path.

"So when I graduated I packed all my bags and moved to LA. And did a million odd jobs trying to break in, and then years later," said Charlie.

Now Charlie has directed her first movie, 'Before the Fire'. It was shot in South Dakota, most of it on her grandfather's farm.

“We shot on this gorgeous farm. The National Guard came out for us and is in a scene. My grandpa burned down a house for us. This old farmhouse that was on his property and needed to be burned down. And so the movie just feels so expansive in the way that independent films don’t feel usually. That farm is so apart of my childhood and all of the locations are so apart of my childhood and my dad’s childhood and my grandpa’s childhood. So to be able to have it on film forever is really special,” Chalie said.

What's really interesting is what the film is about. An idea that came up well before the events of the past six months.

"This is so coincidental but the movie is about a girl who's originally from South Dakota, who moves to Los Angeles, and she has no intention of ever going home. But a pandemic breaks out, and the city goes in quarantine and lockdown and so it's too dangerous to live in the city. So she escapes and moves home and lives on the farm with her family A family she never wanted to see again," said Charlie.

While the film is not autobiographical, Charlie did move back home for three months during the pandemic. And she came back again for the premiere, at the Luxury Five Theater in Mitchell.

"The one that I grew up going to as a little kid. The one that made me love movies, and so to see it on the big screen there it feels like everything came full circle in a really special way," Charlie said.

And for Charlie, she hopes this is just the beginning.

“Making my own movie was essential to have some sort of proof that I could do it. So I knew that if I wanted to direct, I would have to make something and then I could use this as a springboard to be able to do more things,” said Charlie.

Besides Mitchell, you can see ‘Before the Fire’ at theaters in Dell Rapids and Huron. The movie is also available on-demand.

Charlie also recently completed a documentary on the Rosebud Indian Reservation about three Native American rappers who are trying to make it in the hip-hop world.

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