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Scenes shot for Marshalltown movie

CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS — Jude Rawlins (right) directs of scene from “Little Johnny Jewel” in Tannin on Main Street. The scene was shot on April 25.

The COVID-19 pandemic might have hindered the progress of “Little Johnny Jewel” but the Marshalltown-made movie is back in action.

On April 25, filming of two scenes took place in Tannin on Main Street. Director Jude Rawlins was at the helm as he was backed up by cast and crew.

“We have had an amazing amount of support from the local community, and we are really pleased that the film has created such a positive buzz in Marshalltown, especially given the very difficult challenges the town has faced recently,” Rawlins said. “We are proud to be a small part of its recovery.”

Roughly 70 percent of the film still needs to be shot. Rawlins and the crew are taking care of scenes bit by bit. In September, the star of the movie — Juliet Landau of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame — will be in Marshalltown for at least two weeks.

“She’ll be working most days,” he said. “If we can, if the COVID situation allows, we will do a ‘meet-and-greet’ type event.”

Director Jude Rawlins is searching for a house — or the interior of one — such as what is pictured for “Little Johnny Jewel.”

“Little Johnny Jewel” is a comedy drama about second chances, about a drifter who is estranged from his parents and they are forced to take responsibility for him again.

Not all of the details have been figured out. Rawlins is still looking for a couple locations to film, such as an early 1900s family home.

“We are still looking for a couple of very specific locations, so we may come knocking on your door,” he said. “It’s not easy to find. We’re actually to the point where we’re going to start driving around, printing up a letter and leaving it at the right house. I’ve done that before. It can be very productive.”

If anyone is interested in letting Rawlins use the property, he promises to be very careful.

“Even breaking a cup would make me nervous,” he said.

Rawlins said they would need the home for a couple days, and would be willing to set the owner up in a hotel room during the duration of the shoot.

As Marshalltown residents go about their lives, they might see movie crews gathered from time to time as filming continues. Rawlins said they will shoot another scene next weekend, but was hesitant to give the location as he wants to preserve the sets.

The plan is to wrap up “Little Johnny Jewel” this year, and Rawlins intends to hold the world premiere right here in Marshalltown in 2022.

“It occurred to me only once before has Marshalltown hosted a world premiere of a film — Jean [Seberg’s] first film,” he said. “There’s no way we could make this film without Marshalltown, without the people of Marshalltown. The least we can do is show it to Marshalltown first.”

While he said the Orpheum would be ideal, it all depends on what is going on in the landmark theater by the time the premiere is held, and there is no determined date yet. Rawlins said it would be fun to do a red-carpet-type premiere, such as what has occurred at the Jean Seberg Festival.

As “Little Johnny Jewel” moves forward, Rawlins already has his next movie figured out and most of the cast and crew chosen. The next film, “The Secret Life of Wanda Hasty,” which will also be shot in Marshalltown, takes place in 1926. The star of that movie will be Georgia Mackenzie, who is best known for her role in BBC’s series “Outlaws.”

Rawlins came up with the idea for the movie during his time in Marshalltown, and he immediately began researching possible locations to shoot.

He is also open to engaging Marshalltown residents into his projects.

“We are always interested in hearing from talent, investors or getting tips on potential locations,” he said. “We can be reached by email at admin@bellalunaproductions.com.”

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Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com

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