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Scenes from "Against the Grain" shot in Osceola area

Scenes from "Against the Grain" shot in Osceola area

Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 3:35 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 3:42 p.m. CDT
OST photo by AMY HANSEN Jason Fries of Iowa City, left, and Bradley Smyser, center, prepare to shoot a scene of "Against the Grain" with the actor Orville Gatton of Eldora March 2 at High Prairie Farms (Boyt Lodge.) Fries is the director of photography for the film. Smyser is the producer, writer and director.

Animal confinement and hog lots can be seen throughout the state of Iowa.

So, it makes sense an independent film based in Iowa would cover the topic.

"Against the Grain" is a film series co-written and produced by Bradley Smyser and Matthew Ohloff of Des Moines in association with Paul and Kathy Berge's company Butter Cow Films of Indianola.

"Anything we can do to get filmmaking down in Osceola, Clarke County, we're going to do," said Paul Berge.

Scenes from "Against the Grain" were shot March 2 at High Prairie Farms (Boyt Lodge).

The film is going to be a series, and the pilot episode was being shot at High Prairie Farms.

Hog lots

"Against the Grain" is about the issue of community control over large agribusiness enterprises coming into towns, essentially animal confinement and hog lots.

"Who should have the control over deciding whether it's going to be there or not?" Berge said.

Berge is an actor in the film. His character is a farmer who has lived in the same place his entire life and doesn't want an animal confinement nearby.

There's also a lobbyist character who's working for a state senator, and they're pushing to get a bill through that would limit the power of the local community in deciding the rezoning rules for animal confinements.

Once the pilot episode is done, there will be a fundraising effort for the entire series to be filmed.

"Right now, we all just volunteer to work on these things," Berge said. "That's how a lot of independent filmmaking is being done in Iowa — I work on your project, you work on my project — and we try and see what's what."

Helping each other

Berge has worked with Smyser on the short, drama film "Trying to Quit," which was shot in Osceola last year.

Berge helped Smyser scout out locations for filming "Against the Grain."

Smyser has signed on to help with Berge's film "Restoration Osceola" with sound and editing. However, Berge's film is going to be delayed from it's original filming time of early summer in Osceola. The reason for the delay is the production lost its director of photography, and needs to be found.

Berge said there's not a lot of money in making short films. However, short films offer a lot of experience for people and the opportunity to enter films into film festivals.

Festivals offer a chance to win awards or network with other people. Berge said an online web series is also an option for independent filmmakers.

Berge said he's hoping the film series "Against the Grain" will have a premiere at the Lyric Theater.

You decide

As for the underlying message of "Against the Grain," Berge said the film isn't telling the audience how to think about the issue of animal confinements and hog lots.

"In other words, here's one argument, here's another argument," he said. "This is a valid argument this week. Next week, this is a valid argument. And, you decide what's the right way to do this."

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