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Hollywood comes to The CREEK

“East of Middle West” films scenes at CCA
Clear Creek Amana High School students are moved into position for a series of crowd shots Friday, Aug. 30, as the movie “East of Middle West” films on location at the stadium in Tiffin. The film crew shot scenes during the Clippers’ season-opening varsity game against Mount Pleasant, and then recruited willing and eager students to stick around after the game for additional scenes. The movie has been filming in the area with multiple locations in Solon on a 21-day schedule.

TIFFIN– It was far from quiet on the set as scenes for the movie “East of Middle West” were filmed at Clear Creek Amana (CCA) High School Friday, Aug. 30, during the Clippers’ varsity football game against Mount Pleasant.
While the Creek Boys lost their season opener 42-20, the night was a “win” for the movie’s production team. Bill “Ginks” Ginkens from rural Solon is the location scout for the production, and was originally eyeing Iowa City West High’s stadium. However, the Trojans were on the road for Week One of the varsity football stadium, and the Clippers were at home. Ginks had also suggested the old football field with its grass playing surface, which fits in better with the film’s pre-1997 era. However, the prospect of staging a game was scrapped for a real game in-progress, turf or no turf.
Actor Carson McCormac, who plays lead character Chris Freeman (a teenager) in the movie, donned a CCA football uniform for scenes on the Clippers’ sideline. His jersey bore the number 89, which belongs to senior Gabe Jenn, a tight end/defensive lineman. Jenn provided a little something extra for the production crew as he scored a touchdown with 10:25 remaining in the ball game. The Creek Boys were still trailing 35-12 however and ultimately sank, 42-20.
McCormac was spotted by some, standing a distance away from his “teammates,” (his character is described as something of a loner) with some speculating he was either actor Ashton Kutcher, or a relative of the CCA graduate and actor/activist. Kutcher has made appearances on the Clippers’ sideline in the past and also had donated equipment to the football program. While McCormac stood in his spots for the camera’s focus, the Creek Boys kept their focus on the game and ignored the stagecraft taking place.
McCormac joined the tail end of the postgame handshake line, exchanging “good game” with the Panthers and their coaches, while a cameraman kept pace with him, filming the vignette. Soon after, the young actor found himself surrounded by CCA senior girls wearing togas. A quick group photo was taken before McCormac and company got back to work.
CCA students were recruited as extras, and returned to the bleachers of the now empty stadium to stage scenes of jubilation and dejection. Additional scenes were shot featuring actor Joris Jarslay (as “Denny Tomlin”) and actress Rachel Storey (as his wife “Brenda Tomlin”) with CCA students passing by casually in the background through several takes.
The movie centers on McCormac’s character in a tale of a life-changing event, running from trouble, and as the movie’s website states, “explores the nature of atonement, by posing such questions as, ‘can freedom ever be found when we run?’ and, ‘are we ever too irredeemable to be forgiven?’”
Mokotsi Rukundo, a native of Swaziland, is the screenwriter/producer who moved to Iowa at the age of 10, and graduated from the University of Iowa. Brian Lucke Anderson is a director/cinematographer who started his own production company in 2011 working with many non-profits and national brands to create documentaries.
The production company started shooting scenes in and around the Solon area on Aug. 8 with a 21-day filming schedule. A timeline for theatrical release was not available. For more information on the production, the movie’s website is available at http://www.eastofmiddlewest.com.