Hollywood shines light on local family's story - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hollywood shines light on local family's story

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WAVERLY (KWWL) -

Small town Iowa is lit up in lights for the world premiere of a Hollywood movie, filmed in eastern Iowa and based on the true story of one local family.

The City of Waverly took center stage, Friday night, as Mike and Jen Jensen and their daughters walked the red carpet. The family taking it all in before the world takes in their story.

Mike and Jen Jensen have been long-time members of the Waverly community, both graduating from Wartburg College. Mike was a music professor for the college and a minister at an area church when, four years ago, he began a battle with brain cancer.

The movie, This Day Forward,captures the ups and downs of life; the faith, family, and love that carry us through.

"This is a voice for him to continue that; to be a missionary in everything he does in music and religion. His life motto, 'Everybody Love Everybody.' His E.L.E motto," said Jen Jensen. "But really, whatever the struggle is, we hope that you feel less alone in that struggle. It is not a cancer story, it is a story that is life. And life is hard, but there are a lot of beauties in life, as well, and what are you going to do with that?"

It's a message that wouldn't be possible without the community of Waverly. The people who opened their arms to the film crew, who spent three weeks filming in Waverly last May.

It's a Hollywood movie, but it doesn't have a huge studio backing the project. The non-profit movie was funded by All Saints' Church in Beverly Hills.

The movie's director, Brian Ide, is a member of the church, as well as a Dubuque native, Wartburg graduate and a friend of the Jensens. 

Because it's a non-profit, many of the talent and crew donated their time.  And the City of Waverly came through, donating thousands of meals, places to stay, and man-hours during the filming.

"It literally wouldn't have been possible," said Director Brian Ide, referring to the support the movie received from the community. "I hope that we gave them a really fantastic experience, too, so it wasn't like they were just giving something to us and we disappeared. That is what is so fun about us coming back and sharing this with them. It is their story, as well."

The movie will be playing at the Waverly Palace Theater for the next two weeks. After that, Ide and producers will work with a distribution company to put This Day Forward in theaters around the country and on video streaming services, like Netflix.

The profits from the movie will be split with half going towards All Saints' mission projects. The other half will be given to the Jensen family for Mike's medical bills and a college fund for the three daughters.

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