(Above) Local filming locations for Strong Tower included the Clausen House on North 5th Street, as well as Main Avenue businesses. - Reporter photo by Chris Barragy.
Clear Lake chosen for TV pilot
by Marianne Gasaway
Could a story rooted in Midwestern values and filmed in Clear Lake, Iowa become a television show? You’ll have to stay tuned.
Filming wrapped up Friday on “Strong Tower,” a pilot television show being developed by Renovo Media Group and ODB Films. Renovo is a partnership between Kingland Industries, located in Clear Lake, and Chicago-based ODB Films. The show is about a recently widowed woman who moves back to her hometown in the Midwest with her two teenage sons to open a brewhouse.
The show will star Claire Coffee, Michael Gross and Miriam Flynn as the top three billing cast members.
Doug Tooke, executive vice president of Renovo, had the concept for “Strong Tower” and wrote the original script. He then worked with Dean Batali, who wrote and produced hits such as That 70s Show and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The collaboration helped to take the project to a whole new level.
Filming has occurred at various Clear Lake and Mason City locations since cameras began rolling May 17.
“We’ve done a seven day shoot with 12-hour days and then some,” said Tooke. “It’s been a very busy week, but we are very excited about the work and very thankful to the entire Clear Lake community for supporting us.”
Tooke noted Jo Shannon, owner of the soon-to-be open Skip’s Kicks shop on Main Avenue, along with Jennifer Coffmann at Starboard Market and Al Hejna at Rookies were especially instrumental in helping film crews. Locals watched with interest as Skip’s Kicks and Starboard Market signage was replaced last week, transforming the buildings into the Strong Tower community. Other filming locations included Ventura, the Clausen House and other, the Mason City Brewery and St. Joseph’s Church in Mason City.
The production team’s call for extras was well received and about 50 persons helped as background figures, extras and crews, according to Tooke.
“We also need to thank the Clear Lake Police Department, who helped us tremendously,” he added.
Strong Tower will take months to process, so there is no timetable as to when the show might appear on TV. Tooke explained he is currently pitching the show, as well as others to possible outlets.
“We know the data about family-friendly television and we know there is a market. Right now, we are kindling those relationships and hope to sell five different shows. We feel there is an opportunity for deep themes with good virtue and value.”
Once the show has a streaming service partner, Renovo will film the following seven to eight episodes. Tooke said more filming could occur in Clear Lake, as well as other Midwest locations.
“The ball is rolling now,” he said.