Movie “Touchback” features ample Ohio farm connections

By Heather Hetterick, Ohio Ag Net

The movie Touchback, that was released this past weekend has bushels of ties to Ohio agriculture and the Buckeyes.

Touchback tells the tale set in Coldwater, Ohio about a former high school football star turned farmer and family man. Scott Murphy (Brian Presley) finds himself with a unique opportunity to revisit his glory days during the Ohio State championship game where he permanently injured his knee in a game-winning play. Given a second shot at his destiny, Scott seeks counsel from Coach Hand (Kurt Russell), Scott’s longtime mentor on and off the field, to help him decide whether to let his fate unfold, or follow a path that will change his future. 

The film was written and directed by Dan Handfield, an Ohio State University graduate. That explains the Ohio State football tie-in. But, why Coldwater, Ohio? Handfield spent time in college working on a film near Miami University. While there, he heard stories about the town of Coldwater and their football team. That’s why he choose to base this football movie there.

According to the Coshocton Tribune, parts of the movie were filmed during football games between Coshocton and River View in 2009 and 2010, and during half-time at an OSU home game.

The lead character is a high school football star turned farmer, and the farming scenes in the movie were filmed two years ago in Coshocton County. Other parts of movie were filmed in Michigan.

For one scene in the movie, the director needed two things: green soybeans and an old combine. Some Ohio farmers were able to help him with both, even though it was October.

Ohio Soybean Council board member and Darke County farmer Jeff Weubker was called to help find the crew both items. Through his brother-in-law, he was able to locate a late double-crop field of soybeans that were still green near Warsaw, owned by Gerald Findley. The beans harvested in the film were his.

Sam Mullett had the John Deere 6600 combine they were looking for, but there was a catch. In a key scene of the movie, the combine header hits a chunk of wood and the flies apart, a theatrical sacrifice Mullett was not willing to make with his header.

“I took my combine down to run the beans and my neighbor had an old header he was going to scrap, so we used it,” Mullett said.  “After that, it definitely needed to go to the scrap yard.”

He did have to teach actor Brian Presley how to drive his combine. Mullett said that didn’t make him nervous, though.

“In parts of it they didn’t let him drive it, I had to, especially when the header hits the piece of wood, because the cameras were so close,” Mullett said.

Due to copyright infringements, they had to doctor-up the combine a bit with some movie magic.

“Instead of ‘John Deere,’ they took black tape and made it like Onon Der. Instead of a 6600 they made it an 8800,” he said. “It’s still that way, I told them not to change it back.”

He didn’t mind taking a few days off farming to help the crew.

“It was kind of neat. I enjoyed it,” Mullet said. “It was different for me. I had never done anything like that before. They treated me real good and fed us everyday.”

Mullet hasn’t seen the movie yet, so he isn’t sure whether or not he appears in the film. He does, however, look forward to seeing how it turned out and the chance to see his Onon Der on the silver screen.

Check out the trailer for the movie.

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  1. That is just tooooo cool. Farmers have always helped those who where in need.

  2. I love the movie Touchback, I have 3 sons two played High School football and one plays college basketball. The town the people and the actors are just great in this movie. I can watch it over and over and over. I also love the music in this move and a very touching end with Phil Vaser’s song “I Love my Life”, One of the Best Movies.

  3. Great movie. I saw Touchback for the first time 3-4 days ago and I’ve already seen it 3 times. Looking to purchase the movie but no luck so far.

  4. LOVVVVVED this movie….phenomenal writing, phenomenal cast! Really made me think about life….

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