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Created in the Corridor: Spiral

"Spiral" is a new psychological thriller written, produced and directed by Coralville-based Backrow Studios.  It is the company's fifth feature film. 

When ‘Amelia 2.0’ hit the big screen this month, CBS2/FOX28 News showed you how the filmmakers overcame some challenges to produce their movie in Iowa. With the state no longer providing tax credits, financing a film here can be difficult. But people who are passionate about their art form seem to find a way with a circle of support Created in the Corridor.

Backrow Studios shot the cute, talking dog Christmas movie ‘Up on the Wooftop’ almost entirely in the Corridor. Since its release in late 2015, the film has seen distribution in ten different countries and opened in South America opposite ‘Star Wars Rouge One.’

Backrow’s founder and director Joe Clarke is now stretching his creative horizons in a new direction. “(We) really want to give an opportunity to both the cast members and the crew members to try something completely different than what we’ve done before,” said Clarke.

‘Spiral’ is Clarke’s newest film, the tense tale of a bachelor party that turns upside down. “It kind of evolves into a psychological thriller and takes some twists and turns that…expect the unexpected,” explained Clarke.

“I think it’s an interesting exploration into how people change,” added Ben Handler, the film’s director of photography. “It’s a story about people who reunite with a group of friends and realize their life isn’t what they thought it was.”

Having worked on both Adam Orton’s ‘Amelia’ and Clarke’s ‘Wooftop,’ this is Handler’s first film as chief cinematographer. He says ‘Spiral,’ like the others, features a number of iconic locations but believes you’ll see them in a new way. “Everybody’s shot something in the Ped Mall…and it looks like the Ped Mall. We were able to, I think, make it look like oh! This is different than what I’ve seen. It’s still Iowa City but it feels like our approach to it.”

“I think that we’ve put stuff on film that people and audiences haven’t seen from Iowa before,” added Clarke.

Filmed in and around Iowa last September, Clarke said ‘Spiral’ actually evolved as production progressed, including the role of a familiar face. “I asked Angela what she wanted to do in terms of her creativity and that’s what we did with a lot of the actors. What’s cool about Iowa is that someone like Angela Billman who was just in ‘Amelia 2.0’ can find herself in a different Iowa project. So to see all these crossovers from different projects and see what roles people play and different people’s creative visions is really fulfilling to see.”

Collaboration is something Clarke and Handler discuss frequently as they ponder ideas over ping pong in Backrow’s new Coralville offices. And they know they wouldn’t be close to releasing the company’s fifth feature film without help from the community.

“For ‘Amelia,’ there was a huge amount of local support. I think our film equally is something that Cedar Rapids-Iowa City people are really proud of and from here I think it just keeps growing,” said Handler. “People have the bug to make movies.”

Backrow Studios is now putting the finishing touches on ‘Spiral’ with plans to premier the film later this year.

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