Los Angeles, New York, Austin, Toronto—all have major movie industries and hot-ticket film festivals. For actors, directors and writers in Iowa, career opportunities are more limited, mostly because of our less accessible location and lack of industry buzz. However, Project Cornlight and the Wild Rose Independent Film Festival aim to change that.

Project Cornlight is an Iowa-based film initiative hoping to foster movies that will eventually be picked up for wider viewing. “We intend to establish a series of high-production-value, independent feature films shot in Iowa, primarily employing Iowa-connected casts and crews,” says Kimberly Busbee, who co-directs Project Cornlight with her husband, John. “Our challenge is to find distribution—to build a pipeline that gets these films out into the world.”

Currently, Project Cornlight works on films with budgets under $200,000. Its first feature, “The Farm,” will create 40 to 45 jobs while being shot in locations around Mason City, says John Busbee. Alongside employment, the Busbees hope to provide movie-related internships, workshops and classes that will educate Iowans hoping to move to bigger markets. “Project Cornlight plans to raise the visibility of local talents as they work in our productions,” John Busbee says. “If they’re motivated to work in big cities on either coast, we’ll try to pave their way.”

Burgeoning social media help spread news of Project Cornlight’s efforts, as does the (again, Busbee-sponsored) Wild Rose Independent Film Festival, scheduled this year for Nov. 8–15 at the Fleur Cinema and Cafe in Des Moines. The festival’s website hails it as “a celebration of the vast, diverse, bizarre, hilarious, beautiful cinema art created by moviemakers outside the mainstream.” It presents awards in 30 categories and conducts panels and workshops for Iowans intent on entering the beguiling world of movies. “We see a stream of eager, gifted actors emerging from Iowa,” Kimberly Busbee says.

For more information, visit projectcornlight.org and wildrosefilmfest.com.

Written by Kelly Roberson

Friends of writer and editor Kelly Roberson call to get her thumbs-up before they’ll see any movie. She’s also dependably current on the hottest fashion and home-design blogs. Traveling with her architect husband last summer, she checked out the construction progress at Antoni Gaudi’s still-unfinished Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona.

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