15 Minutes of Fame

By April Scarlett

When Emanuel Rentschler purchased his 216 acre farm back at the turn of the century, it would've been impossible for him to imagine the transition his homestead and farm would take this past week. More striking than the transition from horse to tractor or lantern to light bulb, is the ultimate transformation from a quiet museum of quaint and rustic artifacts to a busy and bustling set of a motion picture, straight out of Hollywood.

After many phone calls and planning on the part of Northland Production and Film Company and the Saline Area Historical Society, the first of the set productions to take place began on Friday, November 13, 2009. Carpenters, painters and the first set dressers began turning Rentschler Farm Museum of Saline into a fun and festive farm destination in Cedar Rapids.

Thus, the name of the film Cedar Rapids, a comedic film produced by Alexander Payne (Sideways) and directed by Miguel Arteta (Youth In Revolt). The film stars Ed Helms (The Office, The Daly Show, The Hangover), John C. Reilly (Chicago, The Perfect Storm, many others) and Anne Heche (Hung, Men In Trees). Originally planned to film in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the production sought out a new location when the state of Iowa suspended their tax incentive program for filmmakers. Michigan, called by some "The Hollywood of the Midwest", continues to attract film after film because of similar incentives. This is both beneficial to the production companies, as well as Michigan workers, who are called to duty when set crews are needed. By day two at Rentschler Farm Museum, more craftsmen were on site, to be followed on day three, by hundreds.

Builders constructed fencing and reinforced structures using recycled wood from the farm. Giant generators were set up and ran constantly. Yellow electrical cords were strewn from one end of the farm to the other powering up saws, drills and nail guns.