SHEFFIELD, IOWA, U.S. — Sukup Manufacturing designed and built a bin for use in a movie that depicts 24 hours in a small U.S. Midwestern town where a young farmhand gets trapped in a grain bin.
Sukup built a 42’-diameter, six-ring bin for filming in a Sukup Steel Buildings-designed hangar at North Iowa Air Service in Mason City, Iowa, U.S., about 25 miles from the company’s headquarters in Sheffield, Iowa. The bin roof was fortified to support lighting and other equipment. Four sidewall panels were left out to provide access for a camera boom and other equipment. Flooring was modified to give the effect that there was about 15’ of grain in the bin. In addition, the set included a partial bin roof for above-the-bin scenes.
Sukup also designed a 42’-diameter, 12-ring bin at the main filming site on a farm in Kentucky. The movie is expected to be released next summer.
The opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of farm safety is what interested Sukup family members in helping with the film, Sukup said.
Two years ago when scouting out filming locations, the New York-based producer, Samuel Goldberg, learned about Sukup and asked the family-owned company to design bins that could be used for filming. Goldberg met with Steve Sukup, vice-president and chief financial officer, and his daughter Emily Schmitt, general counsel, to get the project rolling.
In talking with Goldberg, “you could see he was passionate about the topic and the movie,” Sukup said. Throughout the farming community it’s often hard to talk about grain entrapment because so many people have been hurt or killed, he said. Besides focusing on a way of life that most people really don’t know, the movie “will be something that people can really learn from.”
Goldberg said he knew nothing about grain entrapment four years ago. The more he learned, the more he became interested in doing a feature film on the topic. The extensive research included interviews with multiple grain entrapment experts and meetings with entrapment survivors and with families who have lost members in grain bin accidents, he said.
Since 1964, a total of 1,156 farm workers have died in confined spaces, including more than 200 teenage boys, according to silothefilm.com, the website for a short documentary that Goldberg and his team produced to market the full-length film.
The filmmakers are still seeking a title for the longer film, acknowledging that “silo” was a bit of a misnomer. Grain tanks are called silos in some regions, but are mainly called grain bins throughout the United States.
Main actors include Jeremy Holm, who portrays Agent Nathan Green on the Netflix series House of Cards; Chris Ellis, who played the part of Flight Director Clark in Armageddon; Jill Paice, a regular on major Broadway productions like An American in Paris and Matilda; and Jim Parrack, best known for playing Hoyt Fortenberry in the HBO series True Blood.
The cast also includes many up-and-coming actors like Danny Ramirez and Jack DiFalco, Goldberg said, explaining that he was looking for cast members who are “of the world” — people who viewers can relate to well.
Production for the film began July 30 at Affinity Farms in New Haven, Kentucky. The crew of 45 arrived in North Iowa on Aug. 10. Filming there was completed by Aug. 24. Three members of the Clear Lake (IA) Fire Department were enlisted to help depict actual grain bin entrapment rescue techniques.
Goldberg said the more he learned about the Sukup family, the more he wanted to work with them.
“I know the Sukups are very passionate about farm safety and very loyal to the farming community,” Goldberg said.