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Posts Tagged ‘Iowa’

”Just do it. Make something. Put it out there and if it is good, it will be noticed.”
—Director Joseph Kosinski

Director Joseph Kosinski is going to remember June 2022 very fondly. He directed Top Gun: Maverick which has only been in theaters for a week and it’s already made over $300 million. And in a couple of weeks, his Spiderhead comes out on Netflix. How did go from growing up in Marshalltown, Iowa to directing a Tom Cruise blockbuster movie? I’m glad you ask.

According to this Time-Republican article, he moved to Mashalltown at age 5 and graduated from Marshalltown in 1992. He did his undergraduate work at Stanford (mechanical engineering) and master’s work at Columbia (architecture). Smart cookie for sure, but where did film come into the picture?

His skills in computer graphics opened the door to working on commercials and short films. And he started writing a short story called Oblivion —that grew into the 2013 film Oblivion starring Tom Cruise.

“I have come to appreciate the freedom I had while growing up in Marshalltown, being able to ride my bicycle around and going to movies at the Orpheum. Having lived in Manhattan for 10 years and now the Los Angeles area, the freedom was special.”
—Joseph Kosinski
Hollywood director comes home by Mike Donahey

Related posts:
Marshalltown #56 (Marshalltown) Photo of Orpheum where Kosinski saw Raiders of the Lost Ark as a kid in 1981.
Once Upon a Time… in Iowa (Jean Seberg)

Tron: Legacy (Part 1)

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles


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“Since those days chucking candy in the grocery store in Cedar Falls, Kurt Warner has been an inspiration.”
Sean Gregory
Time magazine

This week they announced the nominations for this year’s Oscar Awards. But I missed this blog’s anniversary last month, so let me backtrack before I write any posts about the Oscars.

Back on January 22, 2008 I wrote my first blog post for what I thought might last a year. But here we are 14 years later and I’m still at it. It took a lot longer to turn it into a book than I thought it would—but Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles finally came out in 2020. Still working on getting a podcast and YouTube channel going, but some things take time. But it’s been an interesting and enjoyable journey.

And since the LA Rams will be playing in the Super Bowl in three days, it’s time I finally give former Rams quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner an assist on my starting this blog. Warner’s Cinderella story has been condensed to the catchy phrase “From Supermarket to the Super Bowl,” because his road between college football and NFL greatness was a stop stocking shelves at a grocery store.

That grocery store was in Cedar Falls, Iowa—the same town I started the blog Screenwriting from Iowa… and Other Unlikely Places. In fact, the Cedar Falls house I was living in at the time was just a few miles from the Hy-Vee store where Warner worked. Just as unlikely it was that screenwriter Diablo Cody would emerge as a Oscar winner (Juno) just a few years out from going to college in Iowa City (maybe 30 minutes from Warner’s hometown of Cedar Rapids), is Warner becoming an NFL’s MVP and two time Super Bowl MVP. Those two are key to me starting this blog.

Warner went from being a backup for the Saint Louis Rams at the start of the 1999 season to being the ringleader of what was called “The Greatest Show on Turf.” Like many others I was captivated by his somewhat zero to hero story. (Technically he was a great high school player and Gateway Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in college.) I knew well Warner’s story of playing football in Cedar Falls at the University of Northern Iowa and of stocking shelves at Hy-Vee. He put Ceder Falls in the map for me. Unusual circumstances took me to Cedar Falls so in 2004 (for what I thought would be a brief stop), and I ended up being there 10 years.

I later learned that author Nancy Price wrote the novel Sleeping with the Enemy in Cedar Falls, and Robert Waller wrote The Bridges of Madison Country also in Cedar Falls. Both of those became very popular movies starring Julia Roberts, Clint Eastwood, and Meryl Streep. So from my perspective, starting a blog on screenwriting there in 2008 didn’t seem that outrageous. When this blog won a regional Emmy in Minneapolis later that year I was pretty stoked. But part of me also felt like I had that Cedar Falls wind at my back. So thanks to Kurt Warner for planting that first seed over 20 years ago.

Back in 2010, I wrote the post Kurt Warner … What a Story about what an amazing personal story he had. I always thought it could make a super movie, but I also knew the challenge was how do you tell his story in 90-120 minutes? Do you cover his high school years? Warner sitting on the bench for 4 years in college waiting for his shot? His time at Hy-Vee? Playing arena football in Des Moines? Playing football in Europe? The two Super Bowls he played for the Rams and the one later in his career playing for the Arizona Cardinals? His philanthropic and charitable work after his playing days were over?

Back in 2008, I heard novelist John Irving (The World According to Garp) speak at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop—see the post John Irving, Iowa & Writing. Afterwords I told him I heard he was working on bringing a screen version of Olympic Gold medallist and legendary Iowa wrestling coach Dan Gable’s story to the big screen. He said movies don’t do a great job covering multiple decades of the same person. Tom Cruise today could play the older coach version of Gable (and since Cruise was a high school wrestler and fan of Gable’s that would be perfect). But Cruise today wouldn’t be believable as the high school/college/Olympic-era Dan Gable. Those challenges play a part of why Gable’s story has never been turned into a movie. Perhaps as Cruise can produce a limited streaming series on Gable and make that somehow work.

But how would you compress 30+ years of Kurt Warner’s life into one movie?

Well, what screenwriters David Aaron Cohen and Jon Erwin did was make it a love story. A love story about football and a love story about a woman. Ripped right out of the playbook of Jerry Maguire (with a little faith in God tossed in). The script was based upon the book All Things are Possible that Warner wrote with Michael Silver and became the movie American Underdog currently in theaters and available online. I saw the movie in January and really enjoyed it. The movie stars Zachary Levi and Anna Paquin and was directed by Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin. The film covers his last year of college, his time stocking shelves, playing arena football, and winning his first Super Bowl—about 7 years of his life.

In the trailer the football footage oddly looks like it was shot video game style, but in the movie it really works because it matches the style of the Arena Football League when Warner played for the Iowa Barnstormers. (Man, I loved those Barnstormer helmets.) The movie is one of the top ten movies at the box office so far in 2022, and has made $25 million since its release Christmas Day 2021.

“This isn’t how I had it planned. I didn’t want to work in a grocery store then go to Amsterdam and play in the Arena League. But as I look back over my life, I realize that I had a lot of maturing to do. I had a lot of growing in my faith.”
—Kurt Warner

I think the tag at the end of the film states something like Warner being the only undrafted player in the NFL who has gone on to become a Super Bowl MVP. It is the epitome of an underdog story. A real life Frank Capra-like story.

P.S. The one disappointment I had with the film is they shot most of it in Oklahoma (probably for tax credits). I would have loved to seen parts of it shot in Iowa—particularly at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). Warner played his games in the dome there so it was a little disconnect for me to see UNI home games in the movie being played in an outside stadium. But the filmmakers did what they had to do to finally bring this story to the big screen—and shoot the film during a dang global pandemic.

Related Post:
Why Do We Love Underdog Stories? (This is actually what I wrote 12 years ago at the end of that post: “The University of Northern Iowa is where Kurt Warner played college football before he became one of the greatest underdog stories in contemporary sports history.”

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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“People will come to Iowa, for reasons they can’t even fathom.”
—Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) in Field of Dreams

All eyes in the baseball world were on Iowa on Thursday night for MLB’s Field of Dreams game between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees. And Iowa did not disappoint.”
—Aaron Marner
Des Moines Register

There are a lot of grand movie entrances. Two that come to mind are Rose (Kate Winslet) and her giant hat in Titanic and the Ringo Kid (John Wayne) twirling his rifle in Stagecoach. But on some list of 100 great film entrances has to be the entrance of the baseball players emerging from a cornfield in Iowa in Field of Dreams.

Last night in Dyersville, Iowa, Kevin Costner got to make his own grand entrance emerging from an Iowa corn field—followed by the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees. As a lifestyle baseball fan, I can’t say that Major League Baseball ever fully recovered from the double black eye of the strike back in the 90s, followed by the MLB steroid scandal.

But they took steps yesterday to add to baseball folklore by having the Yankees and the White Sox play a game near where they shot Field of Dreams movies back in the 1980s. (I think it was the first MLB game ever played in Iowa.) The TV announcers keep talking about a magical vibe the place had.

I’ve visited the Field of Dreams site a couple of times when I lived in Iowa. When I started the Screenwriting from Iowa … and Other Unlikely Places in Ceder Falls, Iowa 13 years ago, the mythology of Field of Dreams (screenplay by writer/director Phil Alden Robinson from a book by W.P. Kinsella) was definitely on my mind. What may get lost in the backstory of Field of Dreams is that Kinsella had an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. A pretty good foundation for Robinson, Costner and the others to build upon.

Screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno) and Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (A Quiet Place) also graduated from Iowa and it’s been fun all these years to go back to that well from time to time. People may forget that in 2008 just the idea of screenwriting (and filmmaking) from Iowa and other unlikely places was a radical (or tongue in cheek) concept. But fast forward to 2021 in a post-COVID world and you see that it’s no longer so bizarre. Your favorite movie or streaming show is more likely to come from the state of Georgia than Los Angeles.

The cost of living and quality of life in LA is causing more than a few creatives to trade LA for Austin, Texas. Which, of course, has its own established film community. Vancouver has proven to be a film hot spot. Zoom calls have allowed established writers to retreat to states throughout the US. If I wanted to call it a day for this blog and say “my work is done” this would be a good day to do it.

But … I think I have a few more posts in me. And I still have to get on the ball and get my podcast rolling. I don’t know what the future of movies will be—or how many movie theaters will survive these odd times—or if people even will return to the movie going business as we once knew it—but I’m pretty sure people will still want to be entertained as they have throughout the history of civilization.

In recent posts, I’ve been recounting some places I visited on my vacation back in June and July. It’s fitting that my next post will be about going to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY on my birthday. It was a trip I’d been planning since I was 10 years old.

For those of you who missed the game last night, here’s all the drama of the final dream ending (at least for Tim Anderson). Hollywood couldn’t have done it better.

P.S. Whoever came up with that idea to play the game in Iowa last night deserves a nice bonus.

P.P.S. Just realized after I wrote this post the Iowa-connection of two of the movies I referenced. Rose in Titanic (as a 103 woman) lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and John Wayne was born in Winterset, Iowa.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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“I’m having an amazing life—and it isn’t over yet.”
—Cloris Leachman (how she started her 1972 Oscar acceptance speech)

Actress Cloris Leachman was a Hollywood icon with Iowa roots. Long before she picked up an Oscar Award, a bunch of Emmys, and a whole new fan base as an 82-year-old on Dancing with the Stars, Leachman had a humbler start when born in Des Moines in 1926. She died yesterday at age 94.

Her father and a cousin started Leachman Lumber Company in Des Moines which is celebrating 100 years of business this year. She began playing the piano and performing in plays as a youth in Iowa on her way to greater success in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles. In 2006, Drake University in Des Moines awarded her with an honorary doctorate in fine arts.

If Leachman had of just been an extra in the following plays, Tv shows, and movies her career would have been remarkable.

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible (the original Broadway show)
Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific
Lassie
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone
The Last Picture Show
Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein
The Muppet Movie
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Malcolm in the Middle

Of course, she wasn’t just an extra but an acclaimed actress whose career spanned an unbelievable nine decades. Along the way she picked up eight Primetime Emmy Awards which is a record she shares with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. (It’s worth noting that both went to Northwestern University. And because it’s an expensive school it’s also worth noting that Leachman received a scholarship to attend the drama program.)

Here’s her Oscar acceptance speech for The Last Picture Show where she gave shout-outs to both her first piano teacher and her dancing teacher in Des Moines, her father Buck “who paid the bills,” and her mother whose “imagination and funny sense of humor” all which lead to her success.

Dream big, start small.

And here’s her performance from a script Peter Bogdanovich and Larry McMurty (based on McMurty’s book The Last Picture Show) that led to her Oscar.

P.S. Leachman’s comment at the Oscar’s about her father paying the bills got extended applause. I imagine because in 1972 they had a deeper understanding of what that meant. Leachman was three years old when the stock market crashed in 1929 meaning from that point through her teen years was lived in the economic hard times of The Great Depression and World War II. AP News reported that since Leachman’s family ”could not afford a piano, she practiced on a cardboard drawing of the keys.”

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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“People will come to Iowa, for reasons they can’t even fathom.”
Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) in Field of Dreams

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Even before I lived in Iowa between 2003 and 2013, I’d made a pilgrimage to the Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville, Iowa. If it’s on your bucket list of places to visit, then this summer is the ideal time to go.

The first ever MLB game game in Iowa will be played on August 13, 2020. The New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox will play in a field (and a temporary 8,000 seat stadium) adjacent to field where they shot the movie Field of Dreams.  

Today, the Des Moines Register gave a run down of activities that will be happening in August, including a showing of Field of Dreams. 

If you can’t make that game check the website for info on Field of Dream seasonal tours and opportunities to stay the night in the Field of Dreams home.

Back on the 25th anniversary of the movie Bob Costas and Kevin Costner were on hand to try to put into words why that movie continues to touch people.

“They’ll watch the game, and it will be as if they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.”
Terence Mann
Field of Dreams

Has there been a time in Major League Baseball since the steroid era to look forward to a baseball game in a cornfield in Iowa? Last month it was revealed that the Houston Astros were cheating by sign-stealing when they won the World Series in 2017.  Some coaches were fired, some players apologized, and some have called for the Astros to be stripped of their World Series title.

MLB is not as popular as it was back in 1989 and it doesn’t need another scandal. But here we are.  Time will tell what measures MLB will take. In the meantime, I offer the smoothing voice of actor Jame Earl Jones, saying the words of written by screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson), via the character  Terence Mann.

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Page 102 of the “Field of Dreams” screenplay by Phil Alden Robinson

“It’s a crazy speech to watch knowing how many times baseball has let us down over the last 25 years. There was a real innocence about how people loved baseball [back when Field of Dreams was made], and it was the American pastime. . . . In 1989, there was no struggle. People were like; I love baseball, period.”
Bill Simmons
The Rewatchables podcast , April 19, 2019

“This Field of Dreams-style of thinking about baseball peaks with Sosa and McGwire, and then gets completely destroyed when that turns out to be horseshit.”
Chris Ryan (on the home run chase of ’98, followed by the steroids scandal)
The Rewatchables 

“Ultimately, the message about baseball is not about the purity of the game as a creation. It’s about how the game allows you to unlock something in your life.”
Mallory Rubin
The Rewatchables 

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“Baseball means what those of us hold it in our heart need it to mean. It can be a game, a past time, or it can be something by which we measure the seasons of our lives. Or it can be something that serves metaphorically for the battles, the wars, the triumphs, and the tragedies of any form of human conflict.”
Baseball: A Film by Ken BurnsEpisode 9 (Currently available on Amazon Prime)

In other Field of Dreams news, there will be a reading of the script this weekend in Orlando, Florida. Unfortunately, I’ll be out of town and will miss it. But if you’re in Orlando on Sunday (2/23/2020) and would like to see professional actors reading the script, check out their Facebook page. It will also be live streamed on YouTube.

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Today I wasn’t able to track down old photos from my visit to the Field of Dreams ballpark in Iowa, but I was able to come up with a photo from a video shoot I did at Tinker Field in Orlando shortly before they tore it down. When I was growing up there were no major league baseball teams based in Florida, but we did have spring training. The Minnesota Twins Twins used to hold their spring training games at Tinker Field and that’s where I saw the Cincinnati Reds play every chance I could. When I was a youth I attended to a one-day camp that Pete Rose held on that field, and a few years later went to an open tryout at Tinker for the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Not because I was that good of a player, but I knew it would be a unique experience.)

Scott Tinker 2121

The perfectly cracked and faded left field fence at Tinker Field in 2014, shortly before it was removed and the stadium torn down.

When I was 19-years-old, I worked as a sports reporter and photojournalist for the Sanford Evening Herald. Here are some of my favorite baseball shots.

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Tim Raines’ plan in 1981 was to give pro baseball a try, and if it didn’t workout to walk-on to the University of Florida football team. He ended up in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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My dream at 19 was to work my way up to being a Sports Illustrated photographer. I could of had a 30 year career and not taken a better shot than this one.

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I played baseball from Little League  through high school with and against Bob Parker. He ended up playing college ball at Mississippi St. and in the minor leagues with the Houston Astros organization.

P.S. And since Field of Dreams came out in 1989, I just connected it to the Orlando Magic playing their first game in 1989. I was at that game and go this nice memento. I was in Orlando when the Magic picked up Shaq, then  “Penny” Hardaway, and finally Horace Grant and before you know it they were in the 1995 NBA finals. It was Magical.

If I recall correctly, they were the quickest franchise in NBA history to go from new franchise to the finals.  They got swept by the Houston Rockets, but a championship was in sight. Then Michael Jordan un-retired, Shaq joined the L.A. Lakers, and there was no joy in O-town. (Total titles in 31 years—0.)

Magic_9860

Related posts:
The Moment in the Script That Made an A-list Actor Say Yes to Making a Now Classic Movie 
What’s More American Than Apple Pie?

Scott W. Smith 

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“Dad was a Yankee fan then, so I rooted for Brooklyn. In ’58, the Dodgers moved away, so we had to find other reasons to fight.”
Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner)
Field of Dreams 

If you’ve never watched Field of Dreams (1989) then this post is not a good starting point, because it’s about the end of the modern classic movie. In the late 1980s, Kevin Costner was already a major star—coming off an incredible five year run of movies including The Untouchables, No Way Out, and Bull Durham—when he first read the Field of Dreams screenplay.

As much as he wanted to do Field of Dreams, he was under contract to do Revenge. Plus he didn’t think it wise to follow-up a baseball movie with a baseball movie. But when production start date for Revenge wash pushed back a couple of times he told that films producer, Ray Stark, that he was going to make Field of Dreams. Stark threatened to sue him and Costner called his bluff.

Costner’s star power allowed him to not only avoid getting sued, but he made Field of Dreams, and a few days after that movie wrapped he was on the set of Revenge. But what was it in the Field of Dreams script that made Costner be willing to get sued, and to make back to back baseball movie? It was a single moment at the end of the Phil Alden Robinson screenplay.

Note: Costner played Ray Kinsella and John is his father (the ghost catcher).

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If you listen to the podcast interview Costner did with Tim Ferriss, you’ll learn that Costner and his dad didn’t always see eye to eye. And they didn’t totally patch up their relationship until shortly before his dad died. Here’s how Costner explains the moment of reading the script that made him want to make Field of Dreams. A movie he thought had a chance of being a modern day thematic version of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. A story of second chances.

“I had a real short intake of breath when I said ‘Dad, can we have a catch?’ I had to remember that moment forever because that’s how I make a decision whether I’m going to do a movie. I said if we can get to that moment, and take that moment where the hair on the back of your neck stands up, and where you begin to weep—and you don’t even know why—that means we’re going to have to do all these scenes that are almost dopey, correctly. They’re dopey, but we didn’t try to wink at it. It was real. That’s what makes that dangerous hard [to make]. It bordered on dopey, to begin with. And then that’s your big ending? ‘Let’s have a catch.’ I get so much credit for this, but Phil Robinson is the guy who wrote [the script]. I never would have done that movie based on a pitch. I did it based on the script. And I knew the script had gold dust on it. I didn’t know obviously that it would become part of the vocabulary. I didn’t know 30 years later it would find its way into the hearts of the people the way it did. But it found its way into my heart, and that’s why I challenged Ray Stark on Revenge and said I’m going to do this movie in the corn.”
Actor Kevin Costner 
Interview on The Bill Simmons Podcast

Field of Dreams was based on the W.P Kinsella book Shoeless Joe. Kinsella earned his B.A. in creative writing from the University of Victoria (at age 39), and an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Link to Field of Dreams screenplay. 

P.S. Dwier Brown plays Costner’s dad in the movie, and wrote the book If You Build It … A Book About Fathers, Fate and Field of Dreams. Costner says Brown’s own life story of overcoming adversity is quite inspirational.

Related post:
Writing Actor Bait 

Scott W. Smith 

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“The setting of [Field of Dreams] is just so inspired, and so perfect. You look at the movie, and the cinematography has aged really well. What’s more American than apple pie? Well, literally, nothing is more American than a cornfield in Iowa, right? And so many times in the movie someone talks about the smell—the smell of the glove by your face, or the feel of the grass on your feet. And that visceral physicality to the thing that allows you to connect with it—that has aged well. There’s almost a nostalgia for it in an era when digitally, we’re just removed from everything.”
Mallory Rubin (Editor-in-Chief, The Ringer)
The Rewatchables, ‘Field of Dreams’ with Bill Simmons, Chris Ryan, and Mallory Rubin

Since the tile of this blog is Screenwriting from Iowa … and Other Unlikely places (and features a cornfield in Iowa photo), I couldn’t pass up on posting the above quote after hearing it on The Rewatchables podcast. I actually didn’t love Field of Dreams when it came out in 1989. But after my dad died September 6, 1995—the same night Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gerhrig’s recordField of Dreams was the first movie I watched. Since then I’ve been a fan.

In 2014,  I shot and produced the micro-doc Tinker Field: A Love Letter, and recalled a baseball memory with my father:

P.S. Tinker Field was named after Joe Tinker who played for the Chicago Cubs, and is perhaps best remembered as part of the double play combination mentioned in the 1910 poem Baseball’s Sad Lexicon by Franklin Pierce Adams :

These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

Related posts:
Field of Dreams—25th Anniversary
Field of Dreams Turns 20
Dreams for Sale 
‘What could be make on a farm in Iowa for $50K?’—A Quiet Place 
Sam Shepard on a Farm in Iowa 
Burns, Baseball & Character Flaws 
Screenwriting, Baseball, and Underdogs (2.0)

Scott W. Smith

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Thursday January 23 will be the 12th anniversary of my blog Screenwriting from Iowa … and Other Unlikely Places. I’ve written all of the more than 3,000 post since its inception. So today, Martin Luther Ling Jr Day seems like a fitting day to break that streak.

Jack Trice was a football player at Iowa State in 1922-23. He was one of the early African-American football players to play at a major college. To put that in perspective he died six years before Martin Luther King Jr. was born, and the University of Alabama—one of the greatest programs in college football— didn’t have a black football player until 1971.

So here is the first guest post of sorts. I saw it today on Facebook written by Brendan Dunphy, who is a smart and multitalented guy from Iowa—who could pass for Tom Cruise’s younger brother—who was an actor on a short film I shot a few years ago.  Here’s his post in bold (I have added the links):

On MLKj day, I’ll share with you one of my proudest moments of 2019.

For the past 7-1/2 years, I have been investigating the life and legacy of famed fallen athlete, Jack Trice, often in painstaking and novel detail. “Jack” was Iowa State University’s first black athlete and remains the only athlete in school history to have ever died as a result of athletic competition. The stadium that bears his name is the only one in the U.S. named after a black person.

This research has been carried out not only for an upcoming documentary film on Jack (along with my film partners Scott, Paul David, and Christopher) but also for a probable podcast series that shares the investigative process that has been, at times, a hard-to-believe series of events that is wrought with strokes of serendipity. The Trice story is so much deeper than has ever been chronicled.

As a result, I was asked by “Cleveland” to give a ten-minute tribute to Jack Trice in October during a first-ever benefit gala for a new organization that aims, in part, to resuscitate northern Ohio’s Senate Athletic Conference, which is supposedly the oldest in the nation; that’s where Jack played. This organization also honors the sports legends of Cleveland, and Jack has deservedly been inducted as one.

To share a sliver of his story with a Cleveland audience full of Olympic athletes, NFL players, Cleveland Indians, and many college stars that have never even heard of Jack Trice was a true honor.

When Cleveland asks you to commemorate Jack Trice at such an event, you just say “yes.”
When Olympic gold medalists seek you out to thank you for the work that you do in revealing his story to the world, you say nothing because you are speechless.

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Jack Trice (1902-1923)

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Brendan Dunphy

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2019 Sports Legends of Cleveland Public Schools Senate League Benefit Gala

Related videos:

Scott W. Smith

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“Convincingly creepy while also slightly thought-provoking, it warns about deceiving facades, because what hides underneath masks is possibly much worse.”
Carlos Aguilar review of HAUNT
Los Angeles Times 

Filmmakers Scott Beck & Bryan Woods were working on the screenplay for their new movie Haunt at the same time they were working on the script for A Quiet Place. Last year A Quiet Place found a worldwide audience and made $340 million at the box office. Yesterday Haunt opened in select theaters with a wider release next week.

It’s not playing in Orlando yet, so I’ll round out my extended run of posts on Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood in the next few days. Then I’ll turn my attention toward Beck and Woods’ recent film.

But if you happen to be in Davenport, Iowa tonight Beck and Woods will be returning to their hometown Quad Cities area for a screenwriting at the Putnam followed by a Q&A session. Next week Haunt opens in Iowa City where Beck and Woods went to college and they’ll also be on hand for a Q&A there as well— September 21 at FilmScene as part of the theater’s grand opening of their Chauncey location.

“To come back to meet some of the founders of FilmScene who just have a love for film as much as people in California is incredible. We couldn’t be more excited to come back to Iowa.”
Bryan Woods
Isaac Hamlet, Iowa City Press-Citizen

The next project for Beck and Woods is adapting Stephen King’s short story The Boogeyman. They’re not doing too bad for a couple of guys who started out screenwriting from Iowa.

Congrats both of them. May they be a major inspiration to you—especially to those of you working on screenplays and making movies outside of Los Angeles.

P.S. Haunt is also currently available On Demand and digitally. 

Related posts:

A 20 Year Journey to ‘A Quiet Place’
Writing an Unorthodox Script (‘A Quiet Place’)
Scott Beck and Bryan Woods on Theme
‘A Quiet Place’ Meets ‘Screenwriting from Iowa’

Scott W. Smith

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Unless you’ve been stuck under a avalanche in Colorado the past few days you can’t have missed that Captain Marvel starring Brie Larson opens tonight. Here’s what the IMDB slash page looks as I type this post. But you may have missed that movie has Iowa roots.

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Captain Marvel co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (who also co-wrote the film with Geneva Robertson-Dworet) shot their first narrative indie film Sugar (2008) in Davenport, Iowa. Actually, in the same Quad City area along the Mississippi River that A Quiet Place screenwriters Scott Beck and Bryan Woods first started making films together as youngsters.

And the last feature Boden and Fleck made before Captain Marvel  (Mississippi Grind) actually starts out in Iowa. Though I think for budgetary reasons the entire film (except for insert shots) was shot in Louisiana. No news yet if Captain Marvel makes a stop in Iowa.

Mississippi Grind, starring Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds, is one of the best acted films that people never saw. It had a limited release in 2015, but is hopefully finding its lost audience now that it’s on Netflix. But the $130,000 box take (less than Captain Marvel probably spent on orange juice for the crew) made Boden and Fleck question the future of their careers.

Here’s a lightly edited excerpt from an interview that Boden and Fleck did in 2016 on The Moment with Brian Koppelman podcast.

Brian Koppelman: I do sense from you a little discouragement on the state of independent film. I look at your career and I think they’ve been able to make all these movies exactly the way that they’ve wanted to. It’s incredible. It’s the kind of thing that later someone looks back and thinks they’re living a french new wave kind of existence. Of course, living it is hard. You’re making exactly  the movies you want to make with no creative compromises. Yet I can see your frustration—are you frustrated by it?

Anna Boden: I am frustrated by it, but I look back at all the movies that we’ve made and the experience of making them—it took a few years to make Mississippi Grind (our last film) and I was frustrated. I was going home to my husband every night as we were trying to get that movie off the ground [and] I was like I can’t do this—this is my least favorite part of filmmaking. And I was complaining to all my friends about it—maybe I should open a B&B in Hudson Valley. And then we got down to New Orleans and started prep and I felt so happy. I felt so exactly where I wanted to be, doing exactly what I wanted to be doing. So confident in what we were doing and the people we’d chosen to work with. And in those moments that it’s worth it. But then you finish and then you spend a year releasing it, and then nine people see it. And then you have to start raising money for your next project. And it’s in those lulls that you start wondering, “Is it really worth it?”

In that lull between releasing Mississippi Grind and beginning to work on Captain Marvel, Boden and Fleck directed three episodes of Koppelman’s Showtime series Billions in 2016 and 2017.

Scott W. Smith

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