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July 19, 2013

Indy film festival to screen area mushroom hunting documentary

A unique hobby, growing older, losing friends and the great outdoors.

These are the themes of the documentary “The Mushroom Hunter,” directed by an area native, about a group of friends who have been mushroom hunting for more than 50 years. The film is scheduled to appear at the Indianapolis International Film Festival this weekend and next week.

Director Bill Torgerson, formerly of Winamac and Logansport, splits the 30-minute film between footage of the hunters sharing stories and outdoor scenes following them on a hunt in France Park. The film focuses on his father, Martin “Torg” Torgerson, along with his father’s hunting buddies, Casey Jones and Vic Heater, all to a score by Indianapolis-based musician Jeremy Vogt.

Now residing in New Canaan, Conn., Bill Torgerson is a professor in the Institute for Writing Studies at St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y. He said the idea for the film first came to him after being at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, where a screenplay he adapted from his debut novel, “Love on the Big Screen,” won the grand prize in the screenplay competition.

“I had never been to a film festival,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect. A lot of the short films, what made them great and interesting are the same things I like about literary fiction.”

Although he didn’t share the same awe his father and father’s friends hold for the hobby on the few hunts he accompanied them on while growing up, he said something clicked in his mind as far as creating a short film capturing their passion.

“If I could get these guys on camera hunting mushrooms, I think that would be enough to carry any film,” he remembered thinking when he first came up with the idea.

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