Creston kicks off a six-stop tour of Iowa for wrestling filmmaker Tim Jackson Sunday afternoon.
“Wrestling With Iowa,” a documentary film project that follows the quest of Jake Marlin of Creston/O-M and Brandon Sorensen of Denver-Tripoli in becoming the state’s 22nd and 23rd four-time champions, will be shown at 4:30 p.m. at Strand Theatre, 309 West Adams St.
The event is sponsored by KSIB radio.
Jackson, who completed the project as his thesis as a graduate student in film at Ohio University (see related story), said admission is free with KSIB covering the $400 theater’s rental fee for the 81-minute film.
Chad Rieck, KSIB general manager, said approximately 150 tickets are available for the general public in the theater’s 270-seat auditorium. The first priority, Rieck said, was providing access to Creston/O-M wrestlers and their families.
“We worked with coach Frain and the team and determined their needs first,” Rieck said. “We’re left with about 150 tickets, and those can be picked up at the radio station on a first come, first served basis.”
Business hours at KSIB are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
“It’s a great project. We wanted to see the venue packed,” Rieck said. “The wrestling community is big here, and we’re happy to help out in providing (free) access.”
The tour of film screenings moves on to Forest City Monday and four other cities by Jan. 10. Attempts to line up arrangements with theaters in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids were unsuccessful, Jackson said.
The “home screening” for Denver-Tripoli fans of Sorensen will be Wednesday in Waverly.
Actually, there have been two other viewings. Jackson’s presentation of his thesis project for the Ohio University film school was held Dec. 3 in Athens, Ohio. He also showed the film privately to Marlin and Sorensen on the University of Iowa campus, where both are freshman members of the wrestling team.
“I did a screening for the boys in Iowa City three weeks ago,” Jackson said. “We watched it in the wrestling video room. They enjoyed it. I stuck around and watched a few minutes of wrestling practice. They were both working hard.”
Jackson said Marlin and Sorensen “don’t get many days off” from wrestling team workouts, even though both are redshirting, and Marlin will not be in Creston Sunday for the screening.
In addition to showing the film, Jackson will have approximately 200 DVD copies of the film for sale for $20 each. So, even if there is an overflow crowd interested in watching the film, DVDs can either be purchased Sunday at Strand Theatre or online at http://www.kickstarter.com by searching “wrestling.” DVDs are available on that site for a $25 contribution.
Jackson also has a website for the project at www.wrestlingwithiowa.com. A trailer clip of the film is available for viewing on the kickstarter site, which includes Creston/O-M coach Darrell Frain addressing his team and a “tunnel” of youth wrestlers for the Panthers to run through while entering a home meet.
The tour of screenings is the culmination of two years of work by Jackson, which started with conversations with the families of Sorensen and Marlin before the two prep standouts won their third titles at the 2012 state tournament.
“I approached both families at the 2012 state championships to set the ball in motion, explaining what I envisioned,” Jackson said. “They were super supportive.”
Jackson, a former editorial and sports photographer before enrolling in film school, said the unique nature of wrestling in Iowa and scarcity of four-time champions made for a good story.
“There have only been 23 of them in 88 years of wrestling,” Jackson said. “So, it’s a special event and I was happy to tell the story.”
Along the way, Jackson interviewed all of the previous four-time champs, starting with Bob Steenlage of Britt, who captured his first crown in 1959.
“They have some common denominators,” Jackson said. “The confidence, determination and work ethic. They all described the sacrifices they made. The running at 6 a.m. in January. The training at home, in addition to practice. There are no shortcuts in that kind of achievement.”
Jackson wrote a story plan in advance of filming in his attempt to follow the paths of two young men trying to become four-time champions. But, he said any documentary filmmaker encounters surprises along the way.
“I was struck by some of the serendipity of things happening when I just happened to be there,” Jackson said. “When Brandon committed to Iowa, I was in the house that night. Then (Iowa) coach Tom Brands shows up the next morning, when I happened to be in Denver.”
Jackson was in Creston the day after Thanksgiving in 2012, at practice as coach Frain received a chilling phone call from his wife, Kim. Team member Dalton Hribal had been killed in an auto accident earlier that morning. Coach Frain hurried to gather his team, which had started to scatter after the conclusion of practice.
“I was there when he told the team about Dalton,” Jackson said. “When you’re doing a documentary, you write the story the way you think it’s going to happen, as a guide to shooting. Then when you’re out in the field, stuff happens. Life happens.”
Jackson said despite the enormity of the task in filming 65 hours of video and editing it down to 81 minutes, he enjoyed the process of getting to know Iowa’s latest four-time champs, along with their teammates and families.
“I was a fly on the wall for things like Jake’s conversations at home with his parents,” Jackson said. “I was following him at school one day when he sat down with a counselor. Those interactions are priceless in providing insight into who Jake is as a person. I was fortunate that both boys accepted that I would be there, and lived their lives. There wasn’t a lot of acting.”
There is also a Facebook page for fans to follow at facebook.com/WrestlingWithIowa.