Growing Iowa

Podcast with Kevin Brewbaker of Media Adventures

Listen on Spotify

Listen on Spotify

Growing Iowa

Supporting local businesses seems to come naturally for most, but sometimes small creative industries that belong in that category are forgotten. Supporting creativity is a great way to help your local economy thrive.

In this episode, Sarah and June speak with Kevin of Media Adventures about the importance of the local film industry. Kevin shares how his passion for film came to be and why it’s so important to let talent shine, locally. He also dives deeper into some of the issues holding the industry back.


Sarah: Welcome back to the Banowetz Marketing podcast, we’re glad to have you. Today our guest is Kevin Brewbaker. How are you, Kevin? 

Kevin: I’m well, thank you. 

Sarah: And we have June back with us. 

June: Good to see you guys. 

Sarah: And I’m Sarah Banowetz and let’s just jump right into it. So, Kevin welcome. Thank you for being on the podcast.

Kevin: I’m glad to be here. 

Sarah: So what is the name of your company? 

Kevin: Media adventures. 

Sarah: Perfect. And, what do you do at Media Adventures? 

Kevin: Probably be a shorter list if I said what I don’t do. 

Sarah: Wash dishes?

Kevin: Well, some of that too, but, basically, I’m, I guess you could say a Hydra in a sense, I have two other partners and we’re all three presidents of the company.

And, I am more, or I guess you could say the face of the company. My position is to try to drum up business, to try to advertise and promote the company. My other partner, he does a lot of the writing of scripts. When we do movies, he does a lot of the support. When we’re on a shoot, like with a wedding, he’s also an officient, so he, sometimes, officiates a wedding. And my wife is a fantastic photographer and videographer, trained from Hawkeye Tech from years ago.

So, we, we keep ourselves pretty busy and we support each other. 

Sarah: You said you do weddings, seniors, commercials, you create movies. 

Kevin: Yeah, we, we make movies and we’ve got one on Vimeo right now that you can rent purchase as well, if you wish. It’s called Morris, it’s a fantastic film. It’s a real in your face, hard hitting project dealing with childhood sexual abuse.

And it is, it’s a very heavy subject and we don’t pull any punches with the show because it’s actually my business partner’s life that he had to deal with. And we didn’t want to pull punches on it because it’s a very serious situation. One that, people need to get real about. And I think if you pull punches, you’re giving excuses and we didn’t want to do that.

It’s hard to watch. It’s hard for people to accept it, especially if they’ve had any experience themselves with such a touchy situation. It can be a little triggering. It can be a hard to accept that somebody could have had that as their life experience. But when you look at the statistics, and we post at the end of the film, a lot of the national statistics, as well as the suicide hotline, on that.

So, people can, not only see the realism of this, but also can look for help. Those who are going through that, that maybe can’t get out of the past, that are stuck in the past that are considering negative behavior, they can turn to this hotline hopefully, and get the assistance that they need.

Sarah: So it’s called Morris? 

Kevin: It’s called Morris. 

Yup. And Vimeo, it’s on Vimeo. So if you go to that you can rent it. It’s like $2.99 to rent. It’s about a 10, 12 minute film. It can be purchased, I think for $7.99, if you want to own it. It’s done fairly well. We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to get it on Amazon.

We have to get closed captioning finish on it. I’m talking to a lady later today about implementing that for the film so we can get it submitted over to Amazon, and hopefully we’ll get more attention once that happens. 

Sarah: Have you heard of 

Kevin: Which one? 

Sarah: Rev That’s who we use for our closed captioning.

You can just turn in the file. They’ll caption it within two days or less. 

Kevin: Okay. Okay. I don’t think I have, but I definitely would like that information. Yeah. Cause I’ve got another production I’m going to be doing. It’s going to be a lot more fun and lighthearted, It’s a spy thriller thing, a small short one for next year, and those are services that a lot of the streaming’s are wanting. So it’s good to have that. 

Sarah: We use it a lot an it’s been great.

June: So Kevin, I have three questions for you. The first one is why Media Adventures? Why did you name it that? And we’ll start with that one. 

Kevin: Well, A couple of reasons. First of all, when I first started the company, it was known as Fun and Game Productions. And, we felt that with some restructuring that we did that it doesn’t really that that name didn’t really encompass who we were and what we did. So we thought about it. And my business partner, who is the officient, whose name is Michael Helgens, he has always felt that life is an adventure and every event should be another adventure. 

And so we put in several different options when we were looking to do the LLC for our company and get names out there, that kind of better described us. And this is the one that no one else really had, for our business and for this kind of a thing, at the time, so. It was kinda like, well, that’s the one that worked after the five or six other ones that failed. So let’s just go with this one.

June: What an intriguing name. It really is.

So, my second question is that I know people, we all know people that are intrigued by this industry, by the film industry, by the audio industry, the video industry.

Give us a little bit of your backstory on that. What brought you to what you’re doing in 2019? 

Kevin: Well, I sometimes say it’s because I was just dumb at one point in your life.

Sarah: You’ll have to explain that one a little bit more. 

Kevin: What I mean by that is that, my dad, when I was growing up, he loved film and he, would get his super eight camera and takes pictures of stuff around the area, the floodings, when we’d have them, and it was intriguing and I liked it and I always was kind of drawn that way. I always wanted to see if I could act. And like my wife always said, you know, don’t go through your entire life, end up on your death bed wondering “what if” 

June: That’s a big thing that resonates with all of us. 

Kevin: Yeah. I think it does. I don’t think any of us should go to that part of our life and say, man, I wish I would have done more fishing or I wish I’d have done this. You know, whatever it is, we need to do it because even if you fail doing it, you at least can say to yourself, I didn’t have to wonder.

You know,  I might want to try for American idol, but if I don’t get on it I might have said, well, maybe that wasn’t the path I should be going. I mean, it should be something else, but at least you tried. 

nd I think that’s the important thing is how many people live lives of quiet desperation, as they say, because we don’t take the risk to try.

Sarah: Well, we’ve always talked about starving artists and I just feel like artists are in. The perfect spot in our society today because I don’t think in the next 10 years it’s going to be starving artists. I really believe that it’s going to be the artists that are going to be doing stuff in marketing. Because it used to be, in the traditional media, that you could make one or two commercials and put it on TV and radio and be okay, and your company could get leads and it’s not that way anymore. Now it’s producing a ton of content, a ton of creative content, and that’s going to take a lot of creators.

Kevin: Yeah, I agree with you. I think that there is a need for a lot of creative content. I think the sad thing is, there’s a difference between creative content and good creative content. You can go to YouTube and see all the cat videos you want, but unfortunately I think you get so much content that the good content gets lost. And I think that’s why you see things like Vimeo and some of these other things start getting a little bit more attention because they gear themselves toward more professional type of product, or at least semi-professional type product. They’re, geared more toward broadcasting an actual movie or story or an event, less of, I mean, if it’s going to be a cat video, at least make it a cavity story. You know how they rescue these people by traveling the country, you know, 

June: And that’s how people connect. if you create an effective story, you know, and this kind of leads me to my third question, as I indicated to you earlier, I have a son who lives in California and I just talked to him this week and he’s been in the process for the last three to four years.

Producing an album. And now it’s finally all coalesced, it’s coming together and it’s going to be out there in the next two weeks. So that’s been exciting to hear, which leads me to my question for you. So as you are in the film industry, from the conception of an idea, let’s take Morris, for example, to it being out there on Vimeo how long does that take?

Sarah: That’s a great question. 

Kevin: That’s a very encompassing question because if you’re talking about like the work, like Morris took two or three months to put together, because we had to, well, I guess I take that back. We wrote the story and then it got submitted out to the Snake Alley film festival that accepted it on their film festival down in Burlington, Iowa. And what they did, and I still do, I think pretty much for the most part, they actually do, script reads on stage with actors. So they don’t just take the script, give you a grade or some kind of accolade or award or whatever for the best of the scripts, they actually take the best of the scripts that they’ve selected and they hire, or bring upon volunteers, actors to onstage, in front of an audience, perform your work. 

They did it. And the writer, Michael, this was his life story, he got to see it off the page and in front of his face.

And it was very difficult for him to do. But he was able to start a good dialogue with the actors that were in that. Then about a year later, it took about a year later to get everything in place, we had those actors from that stage read to be in the film. 

And I encourage you guys, if you have the courage to watch it, because these guys I’ll put them against anything, Hollywood, they knocked that film out of the park. They were fantastic. And I’ll tell you right now, actors make your film. No matter how, I mean, you can write great, have all the lighting, all the sound and you don’t have good actors really telling this story, forget about it.

And these guys knocked it out of the park. All these guys are just quality individuals that are strong actors and even the guy who plays the villain, one of the nicest guys you ever meet Scott Blow. It’s just so fun. And he’s like, he’s got a lot of act, energy and he’s very animated, very wonderful guy when he plays the villain in this film and you hate him, but if you meet him in life, you love him. And he just carried that film. And Dylan Yeager, who’s from Mount Vernon, he played Morris so real, so honest, that you just are drawn into the entire story. 


And Michael, the writer he worked with Dylan for a year on getting to become Morris on the screen. 

So that’s probably the beginning steps that we’re talking about there.

Then you have to edit it, which takes, you know, several more months to make sure you get your sound right. You get your music in there, right. At the right places. That you get your lighting, right. Get your color correction right. Get all of it. And then, once you have a finished product, then you have to start marketing it.

And then I would have to say that is probably one of the weakest points of independent films in Iowa, and probably one of the reasons why you don’t see a lot of independent filmmakers in Iowa creating epic films. You do get, every once in awhile, like the Quiet Place,   Amelia 2.0, that was an Iowa film. I mean, they’re not just giving away for free. I mean, you get some benefits from working in Iowa. So you can save money. But it still costs money.

And so even taking a 10 minute film costs you some money. My very first film smoking gun that I did, was an hour and 42 minute long when we finally get it all done. Took four months to film, it took another three months to edit it, and it was not my best work. It was the first thing I did.

I figured if you’re going to do a film, do an hour movie or more, to get all the dumb out of the way, and then you can start making movies, you know? 

The process is the P and A, or print and advertising, the marketing aspect of it too. You know, a lot of people, in Iowa don’t have the connections, first of all, to investors and they don’t have the connections to P and A or distribution systems.

And they can’t afford sometimes even the legal teams necessary for all the right paperwork to be done and all that stuff. So, yeah. So, and when you have the tax incentives taken away, because the government had stupid people doing stupid things, and instead of creating a system that can have the right checks and balances have the right framework in place to develop a system that can grow an industry this state, they’ll give tax incentives to everybody else. And I don’t know how many watchdogs they have on that program, but I guess if they can have it on them, why can’t they have it on the film industry? I don’t know, but that’s on them, I guess. 

But the nice thing is, is that because of the internet, because of YouTube and Amazon and Vimeos and these companies out there, there are resources for independent filmmakers to get their product out there, to get revenue on a private basis, to compensate and grow with their thing. 

Sarah: Since the connections are out there with those companies that you said, are filmmakers having trouble learning how to use these to effectively market?

Kevin: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of thought process, involved.

I mean, first of all, when you’re dealing with artists, you’re not dealing with businessmen. You’re dealing with creatives. They are all about the content and the product and all this stuff. And if it costs them a couple of hundred bucks, oh well, It was cool to make the content.

 But if you think of it as a business and as a business owner, you are thinking, how do I manufacture a product? To get me a return so I can manufacture another product. And if you’re in a environment like Iowa is, that does not have tax incentives that don’t have investors beating down the door, looking for the next talent to produce the next epic film that’ll make even Marvel wish they could have made that. Or Disney would have wished they could have made that. 

Then you really struggle. I mean, I had a guy from California come to the film festival and said to me, he says, I’m amazed at the content you guys make here considering you are so far out in left field, you would be great if you were in left field, he says your, we don’t have like rental houses here in Iowa.

You can go and pick up equipment and look at it and say, okay, great. You want me to go to Chicago and see some stuff. If you want to drive four hours in a day to take the time, to look at some stuff and get an education, or to go online and try to use those reviews and stuff and rent something for a weekend to produce good, kind of, and believe it or not, amazingly enough, they still do.

Iowans can still rent this stuff and still go to these places and still get equipment and still make incredible content sometimes with stuff that is amazing when it doesn’t even have anywhere close to the big Sony cameras that can do 3D out of Hollywood and stuff like that. We can create incredible stories.

And if you go to a film festival, and I hope everybody goes to all the independent film festivals in Iowa, we have several of them. You can go to and see all the different ones all over the entire state that happened throughout the year. And just some amazing content that occurs. 

Sarah: It is fascinating that you’re saying this because, I had told you before we started recording that I actually started as a professional photographer.

And two people off camera right now are another professional photographer, Jenn with Photo Jenn Inc and then Annalise, who is a videographer. And, what’s fascinating to me is that knowing that business, knowing the creative business and now having a marketing business, I totally get what you are saying.

Balancing the creative with the business, because what’s very interesting is that’s how I got here with Banowetz Marketing, was that I am a creative and I create, and I knew that I needed people to balance me in my weaknesses, which is the implementation. 

And so I put a team of people around me, June being one of them, to help with that implementation.  Annie Moody is my marketing specialist here at Banowetz Marketing and she is very good at the releasing and the content. So we, so the creatives here at bandwidths marketing can, create the content and then there’s other people on our team who can help release it.

Which is interesting listening to you talk because I think that’s probably one of the things that’s going well here at Banowetz Marketing and that, may actually, if I was going to give any advice, cause that’s one thing I like to do is how can I help? What advice can I give? How can I help, would be to just say to all of the creatives out there listening to this is just pull people around you who are strong in your weaknesses.

One of them being, what we’re talking about here, time management, for creatives is a big thing because we can dive in and we could spend hours upon hours upon hours in our craft when really it’s getmo, good enough to move on. And then to have people out there who I work odd hours, but I have people on my team who work those structured hours that can help put the content out there once we’ve created it.

Kevin: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think a couple of things that’s really hurting our industry, other than money, is infrastructure. We have a decent structure through Produce Iowa for bringing outside content in. So in other words, if Hollywood wants to produce something or if Netflix wants to produce some original content, or if Amazon wants to produce some original content, we have somewhat of a structure to where they will reach out to people in Iowa and say, who wants to be the PA for this project, which is production assistance. Who wants to maybe help with some of the camera work behind the scenes work maybe even do some acting, but they’ll bring outside us to create.

Sarah: So then where’s it falling short on the interior?

Kevin: Interior structuring is twofold. One, since we don’t have tax credits and monies, we don’t have a centralized focus where people that are internal filmmakers can levy their creativity. 

So since we don’t have that financial infrastructure, we have a lot of creatives, which have a tendency to be individualized, and they don’t have a creative structure to where this production company in that production coming in, that production company. And I, and we’ll we’ll band together and create something epic. 

Okay, well, who’s camera are we gonna use, well, what’s, who’s going to do the sound. Well, why should we do this? Why should you do that? And, so there’s not a cohesive, framework of easy collaboration. 

Sarah: I think that what I could hear the argument against that is that you’re afraid you’re not going to make money, and so you’re just wanting to grab those on your own. But the problem is, and I’ve thought this for a while, is that places like Atlanta, Georgia, and LA get to be who they are in the, film scene because they have that collaboration. And if we want to get on the map at all, If I wants to get on the map at all, for something like this, we have to have the collaboration.

It’s a non negotiable. 

Kevin: Right. Well, another reason is too is because when you are competing with States like even Ohio and, to a degree, even Illinois and some other ones in the Midwest, you’re putting yourself in an uneven playing field.

It’s not like every state across the union has tax credits, so that someone from Hollywood, oh yeah, I’m going to go into Iowa because it’s no different than going to Illinois. And they’ve got the open fields and they can do the storyline I want to do, because I’m going to get the same tax credit benefits as anybody else here in this country is going to get.

So, when you’re automatically putting yourself up against the eight ball, in a sense that these multi-millionaires that want to make these films can get 30-40% savings by going into Ohio or whatever, compared to Iowa, it’s hard to compete with it. You’re not putting yourself on the same playing field.

And so to be significant, you’ve got to create good content with a team that will collaborate to produce something that can compete. And if you can put something out on the theater, like the Quiet Place, like Amelia 2.0, you’re going to get the A-list actors to want to come in because they know they’re going to get paid to do the work.

They’re going to be able to produce the content.

Sarah: if there was a group of people in Iowa that were doing this, I’m sure that we would have people speak out in the big areas and bring notice to what Iowa is doing 

Kevin: I’m also a member of the Iowa motion picture association, which also does a lot to, not only, award every year filmmakers in Iowa for the great content that they produce.

And, I go around and, and I do things like this and I, you know, the podcast or just talk to people in general, filmmakers in general, about what we can do as Iowa 

June: So it’s an educational aspect of it as well. 

Kevin: Slowly, the educational aspect of workshops we do and things like that.

And so the thing is, is that. We try to grow from inside out. We try to develop the, the filmmakers here in Iowa. And, you know, if we can get people thinking in terms of not only creativity, but also in product development and exposure and development, then that wealth comes in. 

June: Yeah. I hear even beyond that, Kevin, as I sit and, you know, listen to what you said is that you also need those people that are that conduit that I can speak creative and I can speak business and I can speak that connective person.

Sarah: So the people who are listening, let’s try to, I like to end on a positive note. I feel a little depressed by this conversation. 

Kevin: I do apologize. It’s not my intent.

Sarah: No,it’s good. I like talking about real things and I feel like we talked about some real things here.

So today’s the first day that I’ve met you, so I don’t know the answer to this question, but for the creatives that are listening to us and the business people who are listening to this, what next steps would you give? Small, actionable, next steps that you would give for anyone listening to this, to work in this direction?

Where would you want people to go? What would you want people to do? 

Kevin: I think the two biggest areas that creatives need to focus on is, if they have the ability to be on notice for when something does come in, like from Netflix or Amazon or something like that to be available, to be on their projects is to get on the, Produce Iowa, website, let themselves be known.

Okay. the second of all, they need to get involved with organizations like the Iowa Motion Picture association or others out there that. Iowa Films has got a great online outreach to people. 

But beyond that, you need to also be involved. You know, it’s one thing to be a member of something.

It’s one thing to have your name associated with something. It’s another thing to outreach. 

You need it to get on podcasts and talk to people about what your projects are and what you’re doing to grow the industry of Iowa. Well, what you’re doing to inspire others to be greater, to reach out to other creatives. 

Because, I’ll be honest with you, until this moment I didn’t know you guys were here. I didn’t know you guys existed. I got fortunate enough to meet you at, in my office where I work as an optician. And, you talk about things and you open up and develop dialogue and conversation. But if you don’t, how are you going to know? And as long as you stay small, You’re going to create maybe fun content and neat stuff that YouTube would love or whatever.

And that’s wonderful if that’s all you want to do. God love you for it, but if you will want to get even recouping the investment that you’re making, if you want to be an inspiration to others, creatives who are looking for an avenue. Why are we having this creative brain drain in Iowa? Because we educate them to be filmmakers at school so that they can go to LA or New York.

Yeah. We live in a technological age. This is the time of the internet. This is the time of digital everything. I mean, why are we doing this? If we would inspire each other for greater things here and band together, and we can make quality content that would make the world sit up and go. This came from corn Iowa.

Sarah: I love it. 

Kevin: We have the technology. We have the ability. There’s no reason why we couldn’t send a video file to this person in California or this audio over to this guy in New York and say, we don’t have to go there anymore.

So somebody who graduates from University of Iowa or D Mac in film, you can build your life here. You don’t have to build it in LA where the competition and the crazy is. If you don’t burn up! Look at what’s going on in California right now. But the thing is, Iowa is a growing state, not just in our agriculture. But in our people, where else can you go where you can walk down the street and say, hey, how’s it going to a perfect stranger? And they’ll waive back! 

Sarah: Schools here are amazing. I’ve always lived in Iowa, but I travel a lot, but our schools are great. Our cost of living is low. People are friendly. 

Yeah, they are. And the nice thing about it is like, relationship back to the tax credits that we were talking about with, when they had it, the guy that had the store out in Des Moines for America Pickers, I think it was. And even during the election years, when they would bring like CNN and stuff set out in their, in their corner of their store and do the reports when their primary is going and stuff like this, this is financial influx that comes into the state, big time. And like he was saying to me, the owner of this place, was telling me, you know, it was great, we had that cause people were coming in all the time. And I was doing really great business and everything was wonderful. And he said, they took that away and it hurt all the other small businesses too. 

So it wasn’t something that was just a negative on film. It’s a negative to our entire economic structure. 

So we need to be talking to our politicians, also.

Kevin: They’re saying to us, and then some conversation I had with another friend that’s a filmmaker out of North Liberty, he worked on GI Joe Cobra, and he’s had some conversations with some of the congressmen and they said, well, can you show that you’re going to be totally inclusive to like even high school kids and different diversity groups and all this kind of stuff. And it’s like, well, you know, we could, but you know, sometimes it has to be available and that network and that infrastructure has to be available so that we can. And I think if you actually looked at some of the independent stuff, there actually is.

So, I mean, I think we just need to be honest and real about it and say, let’s just quit pounding policies and stating of wonderful things that we think, and let’s go on and on and research it and find it. 

June: What I hear you saying then, as, as I know, we’re getting ready to wrap up is that it’s really important to be proactive.

Kevin: It is important to be proactive on an individual creative standpoint, reaching out to other people as well as government to try to ask these things. If we can give subsidies to other industries in this state, we can do it for the film industry too. We just need to figure out how to do it right.

But we got smart people in the state, very smart people in the state, it can be done. And there’s no sense stabbing in the back an industry that has the potential to be doing commercials interiorly with our own people, doing content interiorly with our own people and growing Iowa. Which is what we’re all about, is growing Iowa.

And we can do it if we want to. 

Sarah: Kevin, it’s been an absolute pleasure to have you on the podcast today.

Kevin: Thanks for inviting me, I really appreciate it. 

Sarah: Thank you. Thank you. 

So everyone else out there, if you have found this information helpful, make sure that you reach out to us and follow what Kevin suggested if you’re a creative or a business person and wanting to get involved in the film industry.

Strong return on investment. Is something that we really care about for your company. If you’re listening and you have a company and are interested in marketing, so reach out to us at and we hope to see you next time.

Thank you. 

June: Thank you.