Making Movies in Flyover Country

Sep 2, 2014

People associate Iowa with  "The Bridges of Madison County" and "Field of Dreams." But what movies are being shot in Iowa today?

Liz Gilman says there are more productions happening in Iowa than you might think. She's the executive producer of Produce Iowa, a one-woman office funded through the state government that encourages media production here.

"If I'm going to promote the state, I gotta get out to see what we have to offer. So I spent a majority of the first year [...] going around the state and meeting with city leaders and different media and just getting a pulse of what's going on out there."

Dan Steadman knows about Midwestern filmmaking. A Michigan native, he's the director and writer of "Belleville," which takes place in, you guessed it, Belleville, Illinois. He says producing in the Midwest is a completely different experience from Hollywood.

"People make us homemade casseroles and bring them to set. And I don't think I need to tell you that that doesn't happen in Los Angeles."

That movie will be playing in Cedar Rapids this weekend, with a casting call afterwards for Steadman's next project.

And Steadman isn't the only one who sees promise in Iowa talent. Scott Thompson, creative director of My Town Pictures, has made more than 50 movies in small Iowa towns. Originally they were independent films cast entirely from the towns themselves. Now, he's pulling in big names from Hollywood to come here to shoot. 

"We're trying to change that bias that 'real movies' have to come from outside Iowa, that Iowans can be involved in 'real movies' but they have to come from somewhere else. We're trying to create the notion that real movies come from inside Iowa with Iowa writers, Iowa crew." 

On this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Gilman, Steadman and Thompson about the challenges and rewards of Iowa filmmaking.