CLEAR LAKE, Iowa - Iowa is well known for being the primary filming location of the 1989 film Field of Dreams. But now, the Hawkeye State may become an in-demand site for other filmings.
This week, Cerro Gordo County is taking on a bit of a Hollywood look, with cameras, boom microphones and canvas directors chairs. Both Clear Lake and Mason City are the shooting locations for the pilot of a TV show called Strong Tower. The show is about a widow named Kate, who opens a brewery with her parents in her native small Iowa town, with the brewery serving as a community gathering place. She also falls in love with Dan, the local sheriff.
Doug Tooke is the Executive Vice President of Renovo Media Group, a partnership between Chicago-based ODB Films and Clear Lake-based Kingland Industries. Last July, he wrote the script and conceived the first concept for the show. From there, he brought on Dean Batali, who has had writing and producing experience with such shows as That 70's Show and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
"Kingland really wanted to venture into the TV space. A lot of the crew are professionals from the film industry that are bringing that cinematic frame and beauty to television instead of that sitcom-y look that a lot of people are used to seeing."
While there is currently no outlet that has signed on to the show, Tooke is pitching the show to streaming platforms, as well as other family friendly content that's in the works.
"We know the data about family friendly television, we know there is a market. Right now, we are kindling those relationships, we're navigating C-level executives at some of the major streaming services. We want to provide about 2-3% of their needs when it comes to family friendly television. Currently, we have about 35-50 shows that are in treatment form, that are ready to go. We want to be a family friendly outlet for the future depending on the one or two clients that buy into our system."
He hopes the show can serve as a springboard for future filming in and around Iowa.
"A lot of it is about the Midwest, a lot of it is about a Midwest narrative. We'll go as far as Minneapolis to create those urban environments, but we are swimming in rural beauty, not to mention the hospitality in this town and the people. We feel like it's a good platform for opportunities to come."
Other filming locations this week include Ventura, the Clausen House and the old emporium in Clear Lake, and at St. Joseph's Church in Mason City.
If the pilot gets the green light, Tooke hopes to film the rest of the first season in Cerro Gordo County.