Based on characters from the short story “The Scheme of Things” by influential short story writer and essayist Charles D'Ambrosio, Iowa is a breathless portrayal of two lost addicts learning how to turn their fraudulent scheme into a money-making venture. Competitive, testy, and, hopelessly wedded to each other, Kirsten and Lance decide to capitalize on the prevailing late-80s fear of urban decay, brought on by the since discredited 'war on drugs', by going door to door petitioning for donations for 'BAD', or 'Babies Addicted to Drugs', and pocketing the proceeds instead. But an unforeseen twist on their first visit to a suburban resident, involving Kirsten's nascent psychic abilities, yields an unexpected boon and, finally, a reckoning with the true terms of their relationship.
Directed by and starring actor, writer and musician Carlos Dengler, (of early Interpol fame), Iowa is edited “Nicholas Roeg-style”, with constant overlapping scenes and dialogue, and jump cuts between time and space. Dengler said he “wanted to create a sixteen-minute encounter with timelessness, an attempt to replicate the nature of memory and consciousness, but also maintain stakes for the characters actions.” Dengler scores the film, as well, with a light touch, using a simple piano motif carefully placed during key moments of action.
”For some reason I’m obsessed with the color scheme of film from the 70s and 80s. I want to go very far with that, and play with that natural, antique patina, from the Kodak era. I also love coarse, brittle audio that’s recorded straight from a boom which brings in a lot of that old-timey room ambience. These days, with the power of digital, it’s rare to see movies with mistakes in them. It’s so easy to ‘fix them in post’ as they say. But I think we’ve lost something in all of that so, while I certainly did things that could only be done with computers, such as with the editing style, I wanted to keep a lo-fi, DIY aesthetic, a kind of 'scrappy', Casavettes-like look. I think when you mix it with the sort of hyper-kinetic digital editing it creates a unique hybrid of old and new.”
Watch an excerpt here below: