A man walks along a dock at sunset in Ethan Larsen’s short film “Be Yourself.” Larsen, 18, has been making short films for several years.
Contributed photo.

Young filmmaker on the rise



Filmmaking is not an art for everyone, but for 18-year-old Ethan Larsen, it was the first one that really clicked. “It’s a medium that I can tell my own stories through. It’s something that I feel comfortable with,” Larsen said.

Larsen, a recent Winona Senior High School graduate, has been making short films on his own for the past few years. In that time, he helped kick off a video-production course at the high school, expanded his repertoire and was eventually asked to do a short film for the Frozen River Film Festival (FRFF).

However, Larsen did not always know that he was going to be a filmmaker. In fact, it was only a few years ago that he started thinking about it, and in a fairly unconventional way.


“I was into ‘Call of Duty’ editing, like editing game clips. Through that, I began to get familiar with the program,” Larsen explained.

Eventually, a friend introduced him to the film “Donnie Darko” and it was then that he started really thinking about becoming a filmmaker.

“That was really big for me. Ever since then, I started making my own videos. I got my first camera, which I took on family vacations, and I began making trip videos,” he said.


He described his current work as “cinematic short films.” He mostly shoots b-roll, he said, focusing more on atmosphere than specific narrative content.

“Whatever I see, I shoot. It’s mostly unplanned,” he explained.

He releases all his films on his youtube channel “EthanMvm” and has released several dozen since he started in 2016. Most of the films are travel films, but he said he is beginning to move into narrative filmmaking.

“The storytelling part, with characters and what they go through, is what I really love about film,” he said.

During his last year at WSHS, Larsen worked with teacher Jeremy Graves to establish a new video-production course for students. According to Larsen, the class of about 10 kids would meet up in the learning center, talk about assignments, and put on screenings.

“I helped put on the showings. The whole class was really nice, since most of the kids were never into [filmmaking],” he explained.

Graves said that he quickly saw Larsen’s talent in videography and editing during his time in the Tech Nest, which is a for-credit internship at the high school.Through that program, Graves worked with Larsen to utilize his talents to do different projects for the district and help kick off the video production class.

Graves explained that within the independent study course, Larsen often acted as a student leader, helping his peers succeed in their projects.

“Students really got comfortable with him, talking to him about suggestions and recommendations in their work,” Graves explained.

Graves eventually introduced him to Sara Enzenauer, the director of FRFF. According to Larsen, this introduction led him to his biggest work yet.

“She asked me to do a film about the fest for people who had never been. So I shot some b-roll, filmed a couple of interviews, and made a documentary,” he said.

Larsen has several other projects in the works, including a new travel film about a recent cross-country road trip and some ideas for short films, but he said he has not figured out what he’s going to do next. For now, Larsen will be staying in Winona and working on his filmmaking on the side. He has no plans to go to film school yet, but he does have a goal to work toward.

“I’d really love to get into documentary filmmaking. A little bit of fiction, but stuff like what National Geographic does would be perfect,” he said.


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