Mason City native Tanna Frederick has the lead role in “Two Ways Home,” portraying a woman with bi-polar disorder who faces a series of personal challenges as she returns to the family farm.
“I wanted to show that having a mental illness does not necessarily mark you as having a handicap,” Frederick says. “It can actually bring strength and hope into a person’s life and create who they are and create a hopeful message as they move forward in life. It can make them more of a fighter and a superhero.”
Filming on the 90-minute feature began eight years ago as Frederick pushed to see Iowa represented less by horror movies and more for its heart and hard work. Speaking of hard work, the 1995 Mason City High School graduate’s name appears at least three times in the credits, as the lead actress, co-writer of the screenplay, and as producer.
“I love doing everything,” Frederick says, laughing. “I think that comes from my Iowa roots. It’s wanting to make sure that everything gets done right and it’s wanting to not sit back and watch things get done for me but to have a hand in everything.” The original story was written by Iowan Richard Schinnow, it featured a cast and crew of nearly all Iowans, and it was shot entirely in Iowa, including in Forest City, Garner and Mason City.
“You do what you have to do to get it done,” she says, “and that’s the Iowan way.”
“My mom helped set dress. It was my aunt and my uncle’s family farm,” Frederick says. “My dad and my mom were running and getting craft services and Subways and popsicles and picking people up from the airport.”
Frederick, who was valedictorian of her graduating class at the University of Iowa in 1999, co-founded the Iowa Independent Film Festival and launched “Project Cornlight” in 2011 to develop Iowa-based films showcasing in-state talent.
“I’ve learned that doing something with a smaller budget and with your family is, and this is very Iowan as well, it’s something that shows up in the end as having huge heart and huge staying power,” Frederick says. “It is a force to be reckoned with beyond all forces, especially artistically.”
At the moment, you’d have to fly to Los Angeles by tomorrow night to see the film on the big screen. Frederick is in the process of negotiating a way to distribute the movie and hopes an entity like Netflix or Lifetime will pick it up very soon. She promises, an Iowa screening is eminent.
Audio: Matt Kelley interview of Frederick. 9:30