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Erik Burgess, Published October 26 2013

Mike Hulett: The wannabe movie director

MOORHEAD - Countless white DVD cases are stacked tightly on bookshelves in the back of the living room, like a piano with no black keys.

Recorded on the discs are weddings, parties, vacations, family history and memories because if Mike Hulett had a second life, he’d be a videographer.

“I keep telling people, I think it’s gonna be what I do when I grow up,” the 69-year-old Hulett said in an interview from his south Moorhead home last week.

The first-term councilman from the 3rd Ward is one of four candidates running for mayor. The election is Nov. 5.

A self-proclaimed “uncle that videos the wedding,” Hulett has been filming since the days of Super 8, but he’s not a trained videographer.

An Eau Claire, Wis., native, Hulett graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1966 with a degree in economics and political science.

Immediately after, he entered the Navy during the Vietnam War, reaching the rank of lieutenant. He landed in Moorhead in the early 1970s, and was the human resources director for the city of Moorhead for 13 years until 1988. Then he was the HR executive at Fargo Clinic and stayed on the job for MeritCare after the merger until 2001.

But he’s always come back to the videos.

In Hulett’s home – which he’ll proudly tell you he helped design from the ground up – his sunroom has multiple computers, a Blu-ray burner and a new GoPro video camera.

He’s done video work for Darrol Schroeder, co-chairman of the Fargo AirSho, filming him as he chronicled his memories as a fighter pilot in Europe.

“This is one of the things that I think we need to be doing, especially with our old soldiers,” Hulett said. “Because he remembers every detail. It’s all on tape now.”

He plans to do a similar project with Dick Walstad, another pilot and co-chairman of the AirSho.

“I do that as a gift for people,” Hulett said.

Sometimes he straps on the GoPro when he goes bicycling, another passion of his. He and Janie, his wife, often take trips to Itasca State Park, booking the campsites a year in advance to be near premium bike trails by the lake.

In retirement, Hulett volunteers as a Clay County deputy sheriff at the courthouse and continues to do human resources consulting. He says he’ll likely give up consulting if elected mayor.

But he’d still do the videos.

When Hulett was in his mid-20s and a recruiter for the Navy, he visited the student union at the University of Illinois in Rockford. Anti-Vietnam animus was high on college campuses, Hulett said, and he and another recruiter caught wind that a group of about 700 anti-war protesters were going to come clean their clocks. They were backed into a corner in a small hallway before police in full riot gear came to the rescue.

Decades later, by chance, Hulett was helping his son move into the same campus.

“I said ‘Matt, we gotta go down to the student union … I wanna see if the same place is still there where I almost bit it,’ ” Hulett said.

When he found it just as he remembered, he filmed it, naturally.