Private Project

Minnesota Tiger Man

Minnesota Tiger Man is the story of Grant Oly, a man who starts a Siberian tiger habitat in his own yard after taking in a tiger cub from a local whose big cat facility was being shut down in the late 90s. His facility eventually expands to include seven fully-grown tigers and thousands of square feet of exhibits. Grant spends years clearing land to build cages and zoo-like exhibits around his home and spent countless hours and thousands of dollars trying to build a habitat suitable for his animals.

However, after a series of accidents lead the local government to question the safety and legal validity of the facility, Grant is thrown into a series of multi-year-long legal battles, ultimately leading to the Department of Homeland Security stepping in, seizing the tigers, and throwing Grant into jail with no bail -- eventually leading to over eight years of legal proceedings and multiple trials.

More than fifteen years later, Grant works to move on and lives in the same half-finished concrete home surrounded by the remains of his tiger habitat. Oly vividly remembers the past and those who he believes wronged him, still trying to figure out exactly what happened so many years ago.

With authorities that took questionable shortcuts, possible strings being pulled in local government by mysterious influential forces, and inconsistencies and contradictions in the story coming from all sides, the complete truth is sometimes hard to fully discern as the viewer is immersed in extensive amounts of real-life archival footage and interview accounts.

Grant’s story also explores and contextualizes the larger issues surrounding exotic animal ownership and conservation.

  • Grant Osum
  • Grant Osum
    Olu, Pittsburgh Rare, Go Tell
  • Sam Ruesink
    Wayward Souls, Pittsburgh Rare, Kith
  • Marlon Lang
    Mayans M.C. (FX/Hulu), Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults (HBOMax)
  • Sam Ruesink
    American Greed (CNBC)
  • Grant Osum
  • Jake Neumann
    Post Production Sound Mixer
  • Evan Fintzy
    Assistant Editor
  • Nicholas Sifuentes
  • Sam Ruesink
    Motion Graphics/Animations
  • Grant Oly
    Key Cast
  • Allison Asher
    Key Cast
  • Ron Heichert
    Key Cast
  • Tammy Thies (Formerly Quist)
    Key Cast
  • Ricky Cordry
    Key Cast
  • Barry Voss
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature, Student
  • Genres:
    True Crime, Mystery, Investigative, Character Study
  • Runtime:
    55 minutes 36 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 9, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    2,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Columbia College Chicago
  • Crown Point International Film Festival
    Crown Point, IN
    United States
    September 2, 2022
    Best Documentary
  • Big Water Film Festival
    Ashland, WI
    United States
    January 6, 2023
    Official Selection
  • End of the Road Film Festival
    Ely, MN
    United States
    February 12, 2023
    Official Selection
  • Hollywood International Golden Age Festival
    New York, NY
    United States
    September 5, 2022
    Best US Feature Doc
  • Oneota Film Festival
    Oneota, IA
    United States
    March 2, 2023
    Official Selection
  • Chicago Cinema Awards
    Chicago, IL
    United States
    September 8, 2022
    Best Original Score
  • TMFF- The Monthly Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    August 31, 2022
    European Premiere
    Official Selection & Runner-up for Best US Doc
  • Weyauwega International Film Festival
    Weyauwega, WI
    United States
    December 8, 2022
    Official Selection
  • Beloit International Film Festival
    Beloit, WI
    United States
    February 25, 2023
    Official Selection
  • Austin International Art Festival
    Austin, TX
    United States
    August 31, 2022
    Best Us Documentary
  • Amsterdam Lift-Off Film Festival
    October 9, 2022
    Official Selection
  • Tennessee International Indie Film Festival
    Franklin, TN
    United States
    November 1, 2023
    Official Selection
  • Dumbo Film Festival - Semi Finalist
    New York, NY
    United States
  • MLC Awards
    Little Rock, AR
    United States
    January 14, 2023
    Wildcard Winner- Best Documentary
  • London International Monthly Film Festival- Honorable Mention
    United Kingdom
    Honorable Mention
Distribution Information
  • Questar Entertainment
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Grant Osum

Grant Osum was born in 1999 in Minneapolis, MN, and moved to Waukesha, WI at 6 weeks old. He began pursuing filmmaking towards late high school and graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Cinema Arts & Science focused on producing. His latest film work has been directing and producing the documentary films “Minnesota Tiger Man”, about his Uncle who had Siberian tigers in MN, and “Olu”, about a speed skater who has spent his life helping others as well as mentoring 2x gold medal Olympian Shani Davis. He's currently located in Nashville, TN, and works full-time as a Digital Media Associate for CTK Enterprises.

Portfolio Website:

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Director Statement

Back in 2019, I found a plastic container of old photos and VHS tapes in my basement. The photos were from a time when my Uncle owned Siberian tigers in the early 2000s. I can barely remember when he had tigers because I was around five years old at the time. When the tigers were taken away by the local police I was too young even to remember it. I know that the tigers meant a lot to him and it was something he always talked about more than a decade later. As I began my research, I found more and more photos/videos from the past, so the documentary quickly began to form on its own.

The production of this documentary was primarily a 2-person crew operation with my Editor/Asst. Director/Co-Producer Sam Ruesink assisting with secondary camera/monitoring. As for post-production, I worked with Sam to organize the story and footage in a way that best covers all stories surrounding the Tiger Zone. My hope for this documentary was to be able to tell my Uncle's story from a more well-rounded and informed perspective compared to how the media portrayed him at the time. Secondly, I wanted to create a film that would pull the audience into feeling like they are getting an inside look at how those involved have been impacted by events from 20 years ago to the present. I wanted to show a well-rounded view of the Tiger Zone and those involved with it, then let the viewer form their own opinion on what occurred through interview/video evidence.

For the 3+ years, Sam and I have been working on this film we have continuously pushed our release in order to form an accurate story. Between gathering new interviews/photos, the COVID-19 pandemic, graduating college, and a full-time job I have worked to make sure this story isn't rushed. My main hope for this film is to show that my Uncle Grant is more than the criminal the news and local officials portrayed him as. Personally, I don't think there is a clear line of who was right or wrong, but I know there's more than one side to every story. So whether my Uncle was in the right, wrong, or somewhere in-between I leave that up to the viewers to decide.

-Grant Osum