Braxton Thalberg, 12, a sixth-grader at Grinnell Middle School, received the Award of Achievement for Best Actor for the lead role in a yet-to-be-released Iowa feature film, Charcoal Skies. Braxton, the son of Wade and Cecelia Thalberg, filmed the movie in June 2021 in Cedar Rapids.
By J.O. Parker
The Iowa Motion Picture Association recently honored a Grinnell Middle School student with the “Award of Achievement for Best Actor” in a feature film earlier this month.
Braxton Thalberg, 12, the son of Wade and Cecelia Thalberg and a sixth grader at GMS, received the award for playing the lead role of Justin Travers in the Iowa-based feature movie, Charcoal Skies, filmed in Cedar Rapids in June 2021.
The award was presented at the IMPA Awards Banquet held Saturday, May 14 in Ottumwa. Braxton was up against five adults and another child actor in receiving the award.
Braxton, who from a very young age loved being in front of the camera and making self-taped improvisational videos along with a part in a commercial, was cast in the role through a connection his dad, Wade, had with the writer and producer, Beth Hinde.
The movie, which is set to be released at a future date, is about a reclusive, artistic 11-year-old boy (Justin Travers) who ventures from the solace of his bedroom where he experiences more than he bargained for. His difficult, single mother finds a meaningful connection in an unexpected place.
“Braxton was an absolute joy,” said Hinde. “This is his first feature movie, plus he carried the lead. He always knew his lines and followed direction very well. The cast and crew adored him.”
The movie features 56 actors and actresses along with additional staff and was under the direction by Bill Cooper. Wade said filming took place during an 18-day period.
The movie was originally slated for production pre-COVID. Hinde had cast a lead actor for the Travers’ role four years ago. With the later than anticipated production of the movie, that actor left for other obligations. Hinde said she knew Wade through other projects and that is how the connection with Braxton was made.
“I told Wade, ‘Hey, let’s have Braxton read for me,’” said Hinde.
Hinde had worked with Braxton on a 15-minute short project about five years ago when he was a little boy.
“It only took a little bit of his day, but he was a professional even back then,” recalled Hinde.
Wade, who has been acting in commercials, movies and a few television shows during the last five years, helped with casting of some of the actors and actresses in the movie.
Wade and Braxton work through the Peak Agency in Des Moines.
Wade said Hinde is currently looking at different distributors to release the movie, but nothing has been set in motion to date.
When asked about the experience, Braxton said it was a learning adventure.
“I like playing a different character and making a lot of friends,” he said.