It’s a great day to be a Hawkeye: ‘Ironmen’ local casting call at FilmScene

Audition Opportunity: Ironmen

FilmScene — Saturday, June 22 at 9 a.m.

The roles of Grant Wood and Elizabeth Catlett (as a young woman) will be cast for a film based on the book ‘Nile.’

On Saturday, June 22 from 9-11 a.m., FilmScene will be hosting open casting calls for the roles of Elizabeth Catlett and Grant Wood for the upcoming Hollywood production of Ironmen, an adaptation of the book Nile by Tom Lidd produced by Iowa City native Joseph Grandy Heath. Actors must arrive to the line at FilmScene no later than 11 a.m. in order to be included in the short reading audition and to be put on tape.

Ironmen focuses on the life and legend of Nile Kinnick (1918-1943): a student and football, basketball and baseball player at the University of Iowa. If the name ‘Kinnick’ sounds familiar to local residents, it is because Kinnick Stadium is named in his honor and memory.

Kinnick was student body president his senior year at the University of Iowa, a devout follower of Christian Science, a member of the Young Republicans club and, after college, a Navy aviator. While Nile will serve as the film’s protagonist, the Ironmen press release states that the film, “tells the story of the 1939 Iowa Hawkeyes football season,” with Kinnick in the lead. At its heart, this film is about team spirit, camaraderie, family, faith and overcoming adversity against all odds.

“I’ve wanted to make this [film] my whole life,” producer Joe Heath said in a recent conversation. While he originally wanted to be a physical therapist, Heath has spent the past 13 years actively working to bring this story to the silver screen, in between his own acting jobs, on films such as The Final Season (2007), and various producing credits.

“Sports give us something to rally around and cheer for,” Heath added, “People love to see people doing inspirational things. Whether it’s writing a story, making a movie — people will always crave things that haven’t been done before. Sports are just a microcosm of that: It’s very relatable.”

As an Iowa native, Heath understands and values the importance of casting a lot of the smaller roles locally, such as Catlett and Wood. Elizabeth Catlett was a 24-year-old art student of 48-year-old Professor Wood at the University of Iowa during the time when the film takes place. Grant Wood is most famous for the oil painting “American Gothic” (1930), the portrait of a farmer, bearing a pitchfork, and a woman, believed by some to be his daughter.

Those auditioning for the roles of Catlett and Grant will want to roughly match those age ranges and can expect these parts to be minor speaking parts, yet integral to maintaining the historical accuracy and regional specificity of the film. All Iowans are encouraged to drop off headshots and resumes at the call, even if they are not auditioning for the aforementioned roles.

Heath describes finding local actors in his hometown as “making opportunities for other people through your own opportunities.” He’s dedicated to lifting up and giving back to his community through this passion project.

Andrew Sherburne, FilmScene’s associate director and marketing director, echoes Heath’s enthusiasm for supporting the local arts community in downtown Iowa City.

“We’re excited to be hosting this casting call at FilmScene. Our mission is to both present great film but also to cultivate a creative community that supports film production. Watching this project progress towards reality is another positive step in building the greatest small city for the arts.”

For those looking for acting opportunities in the area, Ironmen is a golden opportunity. On June 22, it won’t just be a great day to be a Hawkeye: it’ll be a great day to play one, too.

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