A beat-up pickup on a gravel road in Northeast Iowa isn’t unusual. But when it’s on a trailer pulled by another pickup with a movie camera mounted to simulate that truck driving down the road, it’s a sign that something is going on.
That “something” was the filming of a pilot for a TV series called “Prey.” Filmed in Delaware and Dubuque counties over the past three weeks, “Prey” is the brainchild of co-creators and co-directors Joanna Koss and Drake Shannon.
“It’s a cautionary tale,” explained Koss about the series. “It’s a little girl’s journey as she exposes a con artist who comes to town. There are elements of fantasy and a bit of fairy tale that has to do with subtle elements of Little Red Riding Hood.”
She continued, “In ‘Prey’ there is a con artist in town who preys on people’s faith when they feel they need it the most. The little girl exposes him and gets rid of him.”
While scouting possible film locations last October, they put the Dyersville area on their short list of possibilities. They returned in December and decided on the location.
With most of the film crew from Los Angeles, Koss said another movie shot around Dyersville helped get them to the area. “We inserted Kevin Costner and ‘Field of Dreams’ into the script, it’s mentioned in the story,” Koss admitted. “When we were here in October, we decided to go to the Field of Dreams site and see where it led us. We wanted to find the perfect farmhouse.”
The quest for the perfect farmhouse led Koss and the crew to Karla Thompson, executive director of the Dyersville Area Chamber of Commerce. “Karla was great,” Koss said. “She helped us enormously with finding the locations to shoot and the farmhouse.”
Russ Goerdt’s farmhouse, east of Dyersville on Vine Road, was secured with Thompson’s help. “Russ Goerdt has been great,” Koss said.
Other locations for filming included Memorial Hall in Farley as well as Regional Medical Center in Manchester and at sand piles at BARD Materials.
Koss said while she was back in LA waiting to film, Thompson was vital to the project. “After finding the other locations in December, we were in touch with Karla often. She became co-producer out here.”
Koss recognized line producer and production designer, Henry Aitken, for his efforts. “This couldn’t have happened without him,” she said.
The cast is a mix of professional actors, some from out of state and some from Iowa, along with numerous extras from the area.
Koss said “Prey” reflects other projects that she and Shannon have collaborated on. “We try to create projects that don’t only have an entertaining value, but also a message behind them, some kind of social message impact.”
Filming in the area wrapped up last week, with the crew now back in LA for post-production work. After that, Koss said they hope to sell the pilot as a series. “Whatever network picks it up, then we can move forward with the whole series.”
Should the pilot be picked up, Koss said they may return to shoot future episodes in the area. “That’s my goal. We’ve had a really good experience here. The people are so nice here and there are so many locations. Another goal is to help revive film production in Iowa. There is a lot of potential here. Perhaps ‘Prey’ can help revive that.”