Actress Tanna Frederick founded Project Cornlight, an arts initiative that strives to expand the film and performing arts in her home state, because she couldn’t believe how little the film industry was utilizing the natural resources and talent in Iowa.
Films that have been shot in the Hawkeye State — Bridges of Madison County, Field of Dreams and The Music Man — are memorable for their beautiful locations, but after a scandal alleging abuse and misconduct involving the state film tax credits, Iowa’s reputation in Hollywood began to suffer.
A native of Mason City, Iowa, Frederick is also the founder of the annual Iowa Independent Film Festival. Each year when coming to the festival from her home in California, where she works in film and theatre, she was astounded by the local talent on display.
Inspired by this largely untapped talent pool and by the natural resources and sense of community in the state, she spearheaded Project Cornlight with the goal of developing local filmmakers and actors by giving them the chance to work with seasoned Hollywood professionals and rehabbing the Iowa film industry’s image for other filmmakers.
Garner, Iowa, the project’s first film, was shot almost entirely in the state and was written by on IIFF co-founder Richard Schinnow. Frederick took on the challenging dual roles of Kathy, a former teen mom returning home to face the past, and that of first-time producer. The film also stars veteran actor Tom Bowers and Iowa native Joel West and features many other homegrown talents, both on and offscreen. An early cut of the film will premiere at the 2013 IIFF. Project Cornlight is hard at work lining up their next feature film project and future plans include stage productions, industry workshops and a screenplay competition.