Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Iowa Movie 'Final Season' Celebrates State's Small Schools

A Google search for the phrase "if you build it, they will come," the signature line from "Field of Dreams" and one of the more memorable delivered in cinema history, yields more than 53 million hits, with many of the references citing the exact phrase with its intended meaning.

Such is the power of a baseball movie in Iowa.

Filmed in Dyersville, "Dreams," hit the big screen in 1989.

Now, nearly two decades later, another baseball movie filmed on location in Iowa is being released. "The Final Season," a chronicling of the wildly successful Norway High School baseball team, will open nationally Oct. 12. The movie celebrates small town Iowa in 1991 as a rural community, Norway, struggles with an impending school consolidation -- a post-Farm Crisis issue that faced hundreds of hamlets here. Not all of these towns, though, had a baseball team with 19 state baseball titles (and a 20th in its last season, the year examined in this movie).

Here is the trailer:

The town of Norway is expecting to see tourism and other develpment related to its new-found fame.

As for the movie, Tom Wheeler, manager of the Iowa Film Office, says it was filmed primarily in Norway with some work in Cedar Rapids.

"The bulk of the action takes place on the original field," Wheeler tells Iowa Independent.

Besides Iowa native Tom Arnold, the movie features Powers Boothe (in what, if you are moved by trailers, looks like a star turn as the cagey old coach), Sean Astin and Rachel Leigh Cooke.

Another main character: the Union Pacific Railroad.

Like other towns along the UP lines in Iowa (including my hometown of Carroll which is split down the middle by the tracks) the trains are a living (almost human) and noisy part of life, forcing people standing within blocks of the trains to suspend conversations until the last boxcar passes.

The UP tracks run right by the field in Norway. It posed problems for filming because of obvious sound concerns. The UP can't re-route its trains or change its schedule to accomodate a movie set so the "The Final Season" team just included the train as a key part of the movie, adding atmosphere and, reportedly humor, to the movie.

"The train is really kind of a character in the movie," Wheeler said. "Some of it is ambience and some of it is disrupting practices."

In fact, the UP is such a star in the movie that locomotives roaring across the nation will soon display promotional designs for "Season" on their sides.

"Season" has a hard act to follow in "Dreams," the latter being the most significant movie filmed in Iowa, for Iowa, Wheeler said.

The classic line, "if you build it, they will come," is a cliche to most Iowans. We are at the eye-rolling point when we hear it in political speeches.

"It's kind of funny to us," Wheeler said. "We're the choir."

That said, it is wonderfully representative of the Iowa work ethic and is pure marketing gold for the state, Wheeler said.

In fact, Wheeler had a Google Alert set up for the phrase. It produced several references recently from all of places The Pacific Islands, Wheeler said.

This story is crossposted at Iowa

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