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Don Tjernagel gets everyone positioned for a scene during a movie shoot Aug. 8 at the Russell Lamson building in Waterloo.

WATERLOO — This November, movie theaters in Cedar Falls and Waterloo will roll out the red carpet for a film featuring local faces and destinations.

The Brown Bottle, Newton’s Cafe and Bryan’s on Fourth are just a few local establishments to be featured in the film “Bros.,” written and directed by Oelwein native and local comedian Don Tjernagel. The movie, being shot with local cast and crew, will premiere Nov. 8 at Marcus Theatres Crossroads in Waterloo.

“The crew is all from here, and they’re really, really good,” Tjernagel said. “They never yell at me or complain.”

Tjernagel originally wrote the R-rated comedy script while attending film school at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas about 20 years ago. He became a regular on the Las Vegas comedy circuit at the young age of 22 before headlining his own show on the strip.

He refers to himself as a “big Norwegian” on his Facebook page and said he was dubbed “Donzilla,” a moniker that stuck after a Comedy Central announcer observed “he was so big he could eat the city of Phoenix.”

Tjernagel said he also has been on the BBC, performed at some of the biggest hotels in Las Vegas, toured nationally and released multiple CDs and DVDs.

When he decided to put his full-feature script to work, his investor from Los Angeles offered him four times the money to do the movie elsewhere.


A movie crew shoots a scene Aug. 8 at the Russell Lamson Building in Waterloo.

Tjernagel wanted to do it here. Production began in Waterloo in May.

“He (the investor) has been thrilled with the footage,” Tjernagel said. “He had no idea it (Waterloo) looked like that.

“You’ve got so many points to shoot, you have parking ramps downtown where these guys can get high shots. You have buildings like this (Russell-Lamson building) with just really opulent sides that just really look beautiful. ... The bars in town are really cool-looking. ... I think the actresses and actors look just as good as anyone in a Hollywood movie.”


Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart, right, and former Waterloo mayor John Rooff make a cameo appearance during a movie shoot Aug. 8 at the Russell Lamson Building in Waterloo.

The one-hour, 22-minute feature will have somewhat of a Kevin Smith feel, according to cinematographer Skott Green. The IMDB site lists the film as a rated R comedy, for language, with no violence or nudity.

“This movie focuses on places we actually hang out, and people that we hang out with are in the movie,” Green noted. “It just showcases Waterloo.”

Which is why Mayor Quentin Hart and former mayor John Rooff happily agreed to appear in the film.

“Any time I can do something positive for the city of Waterloo, I’ll do it, regardless,” said Rooff, who served as mayor from 1994-2004 and was active in the Waterloo Community Playhouse years ago. “I love the community. ... I hate to hear people say negative things about Waterloo, and I think we have a strong, hearty group of citizens. I think it’s improving.”

To accurately highlight some of the city’s eccentric features, Tjernagel hired drone photographer Matt Rafferty of Iowa City to capture images of Waterloo, including the Fourth Street Bridge over the Cedar River and the neon lights of downtown at night.

“Waterloo looks so good at night. I was so happy. It really is a beautiful town,” Tjernagel said.

Thomas Ian Nicholas, who starred in “Rookie of the Year” and the “American Pie” film series, was in Cedar Falls last week performing with his band, the Thomas Nicholas Band.

Nicholas agreed to film a few scenes for “Bros.” and joined the crew on set last Sunday for several hours, performing scripted parts as well as ad-libbing and firing back jokes with main characters Tanner Bollinger and Matt Lee Ingebritson.

“First thing he did was come up and shake hands with all us camera operators,” Green said. “He was a class act.”

“Bros.” follows Bollinger and Ingebritson, both currently of Waterloo, through trials and tribulations of two young men in their late 20s.

Bollinger recently moved to Waterloo to be closer to family. He had been in Los Angeles performing standup comedy. He also has performed musical theater in New York, where he held parts in “Altar Boyz” and The Berenstain Bears Live!”

“I think people are going to be surprised at the quality of how good it is, and if you’re from the area, it’s kind of an homage to your hometown,” Bollinger said.

“Bros.” will premiere at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at Marcus Theatres Crossroads, Waterloo. The movie also will be shown at 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at Wehrenberg Galaxy 16 Cinema, Cedar Rapids; 7 p.m. Nov. 13 at Marcus College Square Cinema, Cedar Falls; 7 p.m. Nov. 15 at Mayan Theater, Denver, Colo.; and 7 p.m. Nov. 16 at Fleur Cinema, Des Moines.

“And if it works out and investors are happy, this will be one of many (movies) that’s done around here because I’ll convince other people to come here and do it,” Tjernagel said.

“Bros.” also will be on Amazon Prime along with all of Tjernagel’s standup comedy.

“Wonderful project, I love the theme,” Mayor Hart said. “I love everything that’s been done to show the best of what we have to offer, and it’s funny as well, looking forward to it in November.”

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Copy Editor/Staff Writer

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