IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) – The producers of Iowa’s newest feature-length movie just wrapped filming Monday after two weeks of shooting at multiple locations. And while many may be tired of the cold and snow, those elements provided the perfect environment for the North Pole, Created in the Corridor.
The first moment that we walked in here it was exactly what we envisioned, says Joe Clarke of the large hall at Iowa City’s Celebration Farm. The writer and director couldn’t be happier about the people and places that will appear in his upcoming Christmas-themed production of “Up on the Wooftop.” You can definitely feel the buzz around the city, its awesome, exclaims Clarke.
On this particular day of filming, Celebration Farm has been transformed into Santa’s workshop; the busy elves outfitted by the Iowa City-based boutique Mayfair. And all the extras, Clarke says, are local. Friends of friends of people that want to be elves, that want to help out. Clarke wouldn’t have it any other way. His Backrow Studios has produced several feature films in the Corridor including the Netflix and Redbox release, “The Formula.” But this is Clarke’s largest production to date.
The star of “Up on the Wooftop” is a three year old Russell Terrior named Sammi. Known as Toby in the film, the canine from California seems to be a natural. They’ve kind of nicknamed her “one take Toby,” says Trainer Bryan Dover proudly. As part of the plot, Toby gets lost in Iowa and must get back to the North Pole to help Santa. And, no small detail here, Toby can talk.
When the script came out I went through it and, you know it changes as the film progresses, but I counted and she was in 47 of 87 scenes, explains Dover. All those scenes were shot in Iowa City, Coralville and the Quad Cities with a central cast and crew of about fifteen, including Dennis Haskins from “Saved by the Bell” and Brandon Baker from “Johnny Tsunami.”Samuel Pace-Tuomi from Des Moines is the Production Coordinator for the film.
In addition to our standard cast we have about 30-plus extras here. We (also) have about 55-doggie extras so this is definitely one of the most diverse and unique films Ive ever worked on. Even students from the College Community School District participated.
Tim Nash, a producer on the film, is a Marion High School graduate working to make a living in filmmaking here in Iowa. I dont think anyone here wants to move out to Los Angeles. I think we want to stay here and we want to develop the filmmaking community here and make it a real thing. Pace-Tuomi agrees. There is an incredible amount of talent in the state of Iowa and its projects like this that really help showcase the wonderful people and settings that we have in this fine state.
“I think everyone can agree that were making something pretty special here,” says Clarke.
Now that filming has wrapped, the work begins on editing and post-production. Clarke already has distribution agreements in several countries and “Up on the Wooftop” will be out in time for Christmas.