State Representative Mark Davitt of Indianola won approval of a bill (House File 892) last year to boost Iowa’s film industry.  The effort is paying off in Burlington where a new casting agency held their first casting call.  A clip from the Burlington Hawkeye, which covered the casting call last weekend and comments from Susan Gorrell of RRell Production:

Making movies in Iowa has become more economical after passage of the “Film, Television, and Video Project Promotion program” earlier this year by the Iowa Legislature. The legislation gives state tax incentives for legitimate production companies that film in Iowa.

The new tax incentives have made it easier for Iowans with connections to Hollywood to bring more independent film producers to the Hawkeye state, Gorrell said.

“Iowa has one of the best tax incentives in the country,” Gorrell said. “It works out because finance people (for movies) want to be here because of those incentives.”

The full story from the Burlington Hawkeye:

Area talent turns out for casting call
By NICHOLAS BERGIN

nbergin@thehawkeye.com

Iowa is making a bid to be the Hollywood of the Midwest, and local talent lined up Saturday and Sunday for their chance to join silver screen stars and be immortalized on film.

Actors, actresses, singers and dancers from 2 to 60 years old showed up at 207-209 N. Third St., next to the Capitol Theater, for a casting call put out by RRell Productions/Casting.

About 70 people showed up for auditions Saturday and 100 auditioned Sunday, said Susan Gorrell of RRell Production.

After filling out paperwork detailing their age, experience, talents and measurements, hopefuls stood before two video cameras to show Gorrell what they could do.

The tryouts served two purposes, Gorrell said.

First, the company is looking for a few young thespians for an upcoming musical that will begin production in the spring. Second, Gorrell is looking to pad her Rolodex and build a base for her new casting agency.

Each person stated their name, age, demonstrated any unique talents they might have and read a few lines from the musical.

Gorrell, the casting director for the film, is looking for four main characters of high school age and multiple singers and dancers for background roles in the film.

Gorrell also will hold casting calls in Utah, the current home state of former Keokuk resident and co-writer Vaifanua and her family. Vaifanua’s two daughters, Taylor, 15, and Shanae, 17, will play two of the film’s main characters.

Two rising stars, the sisters recently finished filming a reality TV show about becoming members of a four-girl band called 4 Real. The group will go on tour this summer, Gorrell said.

The musical also will feature Hefa Tuita, who appeared in the Disney movie “High School Musical 2” and recently signed on with Nickelodeon for a project, she said.

Filming of the musical will take place in southeast Iowa and will be directed by award-winning director Russ Tyrrell. Gorrell said she hopes to use Fort Madison High School and Central Lee High School as locations.

Gorrell said she wants to film the movie in southeast Iowa because making movies is a family business and it’s important to be able to work close to home.

Originally from Iowa, Gorrell and her husband, Ken, and their children moved just outside of Donnellson about six years ago after living in Florida for about 17 years, she said.

Ken Gorrell has worked on special effects for more than 40 feature films, and the couple’s 17-year-old son, Brandon, recently wrote a script for a suspense thriller titled “Violent Road” that several producers have expressed interest in bankrolling, Gorrell said.

Making movies in Iowa has become more economical after passage of the “Film, Television, and Video Project Promotion program” earlier this year by the Iowa Legislature. The legislation gives state tax incentives for legitimate production companies that film in Iowa.

The new tax incentives have made it easier for Iowans with connections to Hollywood to bring more independent film producers to the Hawkeye state, Gorrell said.

“Iowa has one of the best tax incentives in the country,” Gorrell said. “It works out because finance people (for movies) want to be here because of those incentives.”

Gorrell said Iowa already has seen an influx of independent film producers and predicts the trend will continue.

Those films will need local talent and Gorrell hopes to use the new casting company to connect producers with the actors and actresses they require.

A full service casting agency, specializing in commercials, film and print, RRell Production/Casting will be housed at 617 Jefferson St.