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Roll camera, ACTION!

“East of Middle West” begins filming in Solon 1990s vehicles and extras needed this month
Bill “Ginks” Ginkens, screenwriter and producer Mokotsi Rukundo, production designer Jack Meggers and director Brian Lucke Anderson. (contributed photo)

SOLON– “We’ve got some scenes that we’re going to need a bunch of extras,” noted Bill “Ginks” Ginkens.
Ginkens, of rural Solon, spent much of his summer as location scout for “East of Middle West,” a feature film written and produced by University of Iowa (UI) graduate Mokotsi Rukundo and directed by Brian Lucke Anderson.
The independent film was scheduled to film at various locations in and around the Solon area from Thursday, Aug. 8, through the end of the month.
Rukundo said he would love to have some locals in the background of his movie. If you have a vehicle from the 1990s there’s room for you, as well.
Rukundo directed interested residents to the film’s website, www.eastofmiddlewest.com, where they can scroll down to either the cast or locations/vehicles forms.
In addition, a barrel for donations of vintage clothing or any items dating to the 1990s or earlier will be placed in Sam’s Main Street Market, Rukundo said.
“The process has been crazy. Two years ago, it was just me and Brian coming up with the story,” Rukundo said. “It’s gone from once upon a time on a dry erase board to actually doing it.”
He expressed his thanks to Sam Lensing at Sam’s Main Street Market and said the reaction from locals has been great from Club 76 on Mehaffey Bridge Road to businesses in Ely.
“It’s been an overwhelming response from the community to help,” he noted. “I’m just in full gratitude. Finally to see this day one coming. It’s happening.”
It’s good to be home, he said.
“I never thought when I left Iowa City to pursue filmmaking in LA, that my passion project would be back here. There’s so many levels of gratitude. I guess that’s why I’m really moved by the support.”
Ginkens met the fledgling filmmaker after responding to an open casting call earlier this year in Iowa City.
“I went in there and read for them. I didn’t get the part ‘cause I was too old,” Ginkens said. “But I did get a small part as a pawn shop owner, who’s in cahoots with the sheriff.”
He had plenty of movie experience already, having served as horse wrangler, production assistant and still photographer for the independent movie Western Religion, written and produced by James O’Brien.
Ginkens related his verbal resume and received a call back a couple of weeks later.
He joined the crew as location scout and began working with Rukundo.
“Scouted like 70, 80 different spots,” he said. “Got it just about all narrowed down.”
Sam’s Main Street Market will be a featured location, the Solon Community Center will double for a high school and Don Kabela’s residence will stand-in as one of the principal character’s homes, he reported. He’s gotten a great response from everyone he’s asked.
Filming will take place in Solon, Ely, Iowa City and Washington, including rural areas.
“East of Middle West” is scheduled to wrap Aug. 31.
“It’s a tight schedule and they’ve already got all their flights booked,” Ginkens said.
The first feature film for both Rukundo and Anderson is set in the 1990s.
“It’s a pretty strong message film,” Ginkens assessed. “Kid tries to get acceptance and hangs with the hooligans, gets in big trouble and it just keeps compounding, twists and turns.
“The ending is a bit of a tearjerker,” he added. “Surprised me when I read the script.”
Rukundo and Anderson met while attending a film school in Los Angeles, he said.
According to the film’s website, Rukundo was born in Mbabane, Swaziland, and moved to Iowa when he was 10. After graduating from the UI, he spent six years running a business before moving to Los Angeles to study and write film.
Anderson is a director and cinematographer who served non-profits and national brands through his own production company, according to the website. In 2016, he also moved to Los Angeles, to pursue a career as a feature film director, where he resides with his wife and three kids.
“They’re brilliant,” Ginkens said. “Just found out how much it’s going to cost to put everybody up, which was scary.”
He’s looking forward to meeting the rest of the cast and crew, scheduled to start arriving Aug. 5. Most of the cast, including three promising young actors from Canada, are flying into Des Moines, he said, while the crew is coming into Chicago, picking up equipment along the way to Iowa.
“They’re still casting it, and we start shooting it in six days,” Ginkens laughed.
Rukundo and Anderson have been making revisions and additions, taking care of “a gazillion” details, he added.
“Mokotsi was at the coffee shop at six in the morning yesterday and I picked him up at ten and then I drop him back off at the same coffee shop at eight o’clock at night after we’d been securing locations all day,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff up in the air on this, that’s what’s cool.”
Ginkens thinks more filmmakers would enjoy Iowa.
“I think Iowa’s more equipped for it than actually is being utilized, but it would probably be a good launching point for an Iowa production company,” he said. “There’s a bunch of folks from L.A. who just love it here.”
At the conclusion of “East of Middle West,” Ginkens will head west to work with O’Brien’s on his upcoming project “Pirate Island” which has actress Rosario Dawson attached.
“That’s the next level up,” he said. “Still working on funding for that. That went from a three to a seven to an $11 million budget just cause the script just kept getting cooler and cooler.”