British filmmaker to set next movie in Marshalltown

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Jude Rawlins, an award-winning English singer, songwriter, filmmaker, author, poet and music producer will set his film “Little Johnny Jewel” in Marshalltown.

Jude Rawlins, an award-winning English singer, songwriter, filmmaker, author, poet and music producer will set his film “Little Johnny Jewel” in Marshalltown.

He had originally planned to set the movie in his native London, but during a visit to Marshalltown in late 2017 to attend the Jean Seberg Festival, he reconsidered.

“I was attending an event in the Black Box Theater at the Orpheum and it suddenly popped into my brain. The whole tone of the film, from the humor to the color palette was suddenly obvious to me. I turned to the person standing next to me, Tammy Losing who worked for the Orpheum, and immediately told her that I wanted to make a film in Marshalltown, and she literally took my arm and led me across the room to meet Liz Gilman from Produce Iowa, who just happened to be there at that precise moment,” Rawlins said. “Liz was very enthusiastic about the idea and offered to support me in whatever way she could, and that was that. My imagination was on fire. A week later I was in Hollywood writing the screenplay and had already cast two of the leads. It was a very magical moment.”

MCC Professor and Seberg event coordinator, Nancy Adams, was also present when Rawlins decided to set his film project in Marshalltown.

“I first met Jude in 2001 in London, specifically to talk about the efforts to save the Orpheum Theater,” Adams said. “We knew Jean Seberg (history) was going to be part of the theater, and that he was a bit of an expert on Jean.”

In 2005, the Orpheum Centre, Inc. joined forces with the Iowa Valley Community College District (IVCCD) to repurpose the theater. It was decided the building would become a “multi-use facility” whereby the community would have access to educational programs and materials.

“He’s attended four of our seven Jean Seberg Festivals, so he’s gotten to see Marshalltown often from a couple different angles. Relationships have been built. He has favorite places he likes to go,” Adams said.

The plot of the movie centers around the character of Johnny, who is attacked and left brain damaged at the beginning of the film while he is on his way home to Marshalltown to see his estranged parents.

Along with his former flame Dotty, who now runs a local diner, the parents set out to figure out why Johnny was coming home in the first place.

“It involves them confronting their own past to some extent, whilst at the same time trying to uncover the identity of his attacker,” Rawlins said. “When I describe the plot in this matter-of-fact way it sounds ultra serious. But it is in fact a comedy. And without saying too much it does involve a supernatural element that we have unashamedly borrowed from William Shakespeare.”

Rawlins said he is still securing funding for the project. Once that is in place, the actual shoot would consist of cast and crew spending three weeks in Marshalltown, using the Orpheum Theater as a headquarters.

“Iowa in general is America as I always imagined it as a kid,” he said. “When you’re in a big city like New York, or Chicago, they are not that different from London or Paris or Berlin in many ways … The people in Marshalltown are amazing, they are the kindest, sweetest people I’ve ever met anywhere in the world. When I try to tell folks in other countries about Marshalltown it is almost impossible to convey in words and I get very emotional about it. But if I can show it in a film, I really want to do that. The best I can come up with that folks in Europe might understand is explaining that you would never find Snoopy in a backyard in New York or Los Angeles, but Marshalltown? Yes, that’s exactly the kind of place he would be. That is where you find people with the richest inner worlds.”

Many of the parts have been cast from local talent, with a few more roles to be filled. Adams’ husband Jeff Braddock will play the role of Lorenzo and Moon Jean Chaplin will portray Candida Munn. Others in the cast include Veronica Cartwright, Ian Seeberg, Juliet Landau and Jack McKeever as Johnny Meeker.

He said the finished film would run at least an hour and a half, but no longer than two hours. Electric Films is a London-based film production company that exclusively produces Rawlins’ work.

He mainly plays rock music, mostly with his band Subterraneans, which he formed in 1992 with guitarist Carl Homer. He has written several books pertaining to music and film. In 2009 he directed his first feature-length film “Albion Rising.”

You can support the funding of “Little Johnny Jewel” at desmoinesfilm.org/little-johnny-jewel

To learn more, contact Rawlins at jude.rawlins@electricfilms.net and visit http://www.electricfilms.net/ljj