Hartington — Jul 25, 2012 6:00 pm

Hartington makes connection with new Payne film

LINCOLN — An Oscar-winning director’s next project has Hartington written all over it.
Two weeks ago, when Joan and Juli Burney auditioned for Alexander Payne’s newest movie project “Nebraska,” they had no idea what they were about to discover.
Hartington is at the heart of the production.
The casting director for the movie, John Jackson, put out a call in Lincoln seeking actors 18-80 years of age for an upcoming Alexander Payne feature film titled “Nebraska,” particularly seeking rural-farmer types, wives, and adult children.
The Burneys decided they fit that description, so they gave it a try.
They submitted their pictures and before the week was out they were auditioning for two of the speaking roles. Although the Burneys don’t know the results of their audition, what happened as they chatted with the casting director shows the true meaning of it’s a small world.

First of all, Alexander Payne, director of “The Descendents,” “Sideways,” “About Schmidt,” etc., is himself a Nebraskan. John Jackson, the casting director, is from Council Bluffs, Iowa. Payne acquired the original script for “Nebraska” from Robert Nelson eight years ago and was waiting for the right time to film it.
Nelson, who is from Snohomish, Wash., was inspired to write the script on his childhood memories of visiting his father’s relatives in Hartington every summer. In the movie, the fictitious town is called Hawthorne.
Payne has rewritten the script and is planning to start shooting this fall.
The movie will star Bruce Dern as Woody, an elderly gentleman from Montana, who believes he has won a sweepstakes in Nebraska and convinces his son, played by Will Forte, to drive him to Lincoln to claim his prize.
On their road trip they stop in Hawthorne, Neb., for a few days to visit with his family.

Payne’s production crew is now scouting Northeast Nebraska for different sites to film the movie.
They are particularly interested in finding a run down, abandoned farmhouse that was once on a working farm, with chipped paint and weeds growing out of control, on a country road.
Casting Director Jackson also continues his search for actors, both for speaking roles and for extras. He told the Burneys he is especially looking for actors to play Woody’s family, rural family types in their early 70s to early 80s.
If anyone in the area is interested in auditioning, Jackson encourages them to send a photo, recent snapshots perfectly acceptable, and phone number to the attention of John Jackson at Nebraska.casting@gmail.com.
The casting company will then contact you if they want to set up an audition.

Also, anyone that knows of a rundown rural farmhouse that would be a good place to film, should contact Juli Burney at (402) 423-5034 or send a picture, contact information, and address to juli@jburney.com.