If there’s a Hollywood, why can’t there be a “Clarkewood?”
This was the running phrase during a roundtable discussion event with Iowa’s film industry heavyweights Feb. 27 at Clarke Community Development Corporation (CCDC).
In attendance were Liz Gilman, executive producer of Produce Iowa — State Office of Media Production, Susan Wynne Lunning and Matt Wiggins with Iowa Motion Picture Association, and Paul and Kathy Berge of Butter Cow Films. Butter Cow Films has filmed many of its film scenes in Clarke County.
In total, there were 20 people in attendance for the roundtable event.
During an interview with the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune, Gilman said she wanted to find out what Osceola was all about.
“I made a note that I needed to get down here because it sounded like a film-friendly community, and Mary Ellen (Kimball) is a great cheerleader for the community,” Gilman said.
According to Gilman, Produce Iowa, which is under the direction of Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, launched in May 2013. Her job has been to promote the state of Iowa.
“In order to know what to promote, I needed to get out and kind of do a listening tour and just go tour around the different parts of the state,” she said.
While Gilman wasn’t able to see “CoPay,” a Butter Cow Film, when it premiered in Osceola at the Lyric Theater, she wanted to find out what the buzz was all about in south central Iowa.
“I think it’s great to see these hometown, home-grown movies happening,” Gilman said. “I think, in order for us to be successful, we need to be sustainable. And, so, we really need to focus internally within our state and help the people here succeed, and create an industry and create jobs by building up a base and focusing on us.”
The past ... and future
While “Clarkewood” drew laughs from the crowd during the roundtable, there was another serious theme often brought up throughout the event — the 2009 film tax credit scandal in Iowa that tarnished the state’s image.
The scandal dealt with mismanagement of the state’s tax incentives to film movies in Iowa. The program was shut down in 2009.
All of the film industry people said the same thing when discussing the tax credits, “It’s not coming back.”
What is the future of filmmaking in Iowa, then?
“There’s a bright future. I mean, there’s a lot going on. I was surprised,” Gilman said. “I’ve been going around to a lot of film festivals around the state. I’ve been meeting with different filmmakers. Like I said, getting a pulse of all the communities across Iowa. I was pleasantly surprised at how much production is actually going on. There’s a lot happening. There’s a lot of creative people out here.”