“The Ironmen” puts local touch on Hollywood film

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Writer/Producer Joe Heath, an Iowa native, held opening casting call on Saturday in Iowa City for his movie, "The Ironmen"

There’s a Hollywood film in the works about Nile Kinnick and the 1939 Hawkeyes football team.

It’s called “The Ironmen” and it’s being produced by Iowa native Joe Heath.

“The more you can tie it in, the more opportunities you can make, the better,” said Heath, who held an open casting for two small roles on Saturday in Iowa City at FilmScene.

Creating a film about Iowans, for Iowans and with Iowans has been more than a decade-long process for Heath.

“I’ve wanted this since I was a child and I’ve talked to 100 people that this is their dream too,” Heath said. “Most films don’t have an audience that packs a stadium seven times a year. Most films don’t have these amazing boosters that help keep that program rolling and want to see amazing stuff like this happen.”

The film is based on the book, Nile, by Tom Lidd. It will tell the story of the of Kinnick, who won the 1939 Heisman Trophy, as well as some of the other players and coaches on the roster.

“Nile really was a real-life Forrest Gump,” Heath said. “He did all the things and what I discovered through that novel is that I have a half-a-dozen heroes and I don’t know their names.”

Dozens showed up for the casting.

“I love the idea. I really do,” said Ben Rollins, an auditionee. “You gotta support local artists and local talent…and indirectly, support local businesses as well.”

And most were there because of a Hollywood-like opportunity right here at home.

“The University is just such an integral part of the community that it’s amazing to bring as much as possible to bring the community together,” auditionee Joanna Jordan said. “Everybody is always willing to pitch in and help out.”

Along with using a few local actors, Heath said they plan to film in Iowa City at places that were already built in 1939 like the Old Capitol and the Arts building.

“When we do that, we’re gonna have all kinds of opportunities for fans to get involved. You know, it’s 80 years past due.”

But never too late to showcase a community and a fascinating story about “The Ironmen.”

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