GARNER | The red carpet was rolled out and not a seat was empty in the Avery Theater Thursday night as a rough cut of the movie "Garner, Iowa" premiered.

"I'm speechless," actress and Mason City native Tanna Frederick, who stars in the movie, said about the sold-out crowd. "When you make an independent film you give your heart and soul for no money.

"It's a blessing," she added. "I feel so lucky."

The film, written by Rock Falls native Richard Schinnow, is about a woman who returns to her hometown to help take care of her dying grandfather. However, she must face different things in her life including being bipolar, past prison time and a daughter who was raised by her parents.

Originally called "The Farm," the movie was filmed in North Iowa over the past two years and only features actors from Iowa or with ties to Iowa, Frederick said. It's the first complete movie from Project Cornlight, which is an initiative to make movies in Iowa.

Frederick said the title of the movie was changed to "Garner, Iowa" to make it more special and to recognize how much she and the crew enjoyed filming in Garner and the surrounding communities.

Garner also has a special place in her heart because both of her grandparents have rural Garner farms. A lot of Frederick's family was on hand for the sneak preview.

"It's very exciting," said Frederick's aunt, Mary Thos, Garner. "It's very exciting for our family."

Thos noted that many of them were extras in the movie and Frederick's other aunt, Bee Chizek, Garner, had a role in the movie as a friend in rehab.

"I think it's wonderful," Chizek said about the movie showing in Garner. She was hopeful her part wasn't edited out.

Frederick said the showing Thursday night was a rough cut, which means the sound, color and some scenes still need to be edited. She and the rest of the movie crew were  still filming on Thursday.

Frederick said she hoped to receive input after the movie was shown as to what accurately represents North Iowa in the movie and what doesn't.

"We need the feedback," she said about the decision to show the rough cut in Garner. "I need the feedback. I didn't want to show it in Hollywood."

A final cut of the movie is expected to premiere sometime in February in Iowa. It would then be released nationwide and likely shown in independent film theaters. Frederick said they're also hoping to show it at places such as the Sundance Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival.

"Garner, Iowa" will also be featured at the Iowa Independent Film Festival Oct. 25-27 at the Historic Park Inn. For more information, visit

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