Scott Siepker
Scott Siepker
February 18, 2013

Mount Carmel native Scott Siepker, a Des Moines filmmaker, star of the iconic "Iowa Nice" video and Drake University professor, will join U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, an eastern Iowa Democrat, for a conversation about Iowa, politics and other topics at Wartburg College in Waverly Tuesday night.

"Being Iowa Nice: A Conversation with Congressman Bruce Braley and Filmmaker Scott Siepker" will be presented in Whitehouse Business Center 214 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Siepker, 30, a Carroll High School alum, has other activities planned at Wartburg Tuesday so he asked for the participation of Braley, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Tom Harkin.

"I thought, well, I'll reach out to him on Twitter and see if he wants to come," Siepker said.

Siepker's "Iowa Nice" short film - produced on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day of 2012 in response to stereotyping of Iowa by the media - has well over 1 million views. The 2-minute video seeks to debunk certain coastal narratives about Iowa being a cultural monolith of prejudiced reactionaries. Siepker, and "Iowa Nice" director, his longtime theatrical collaborator, Paul D. Benedict, have seen their work go viral with features on CNN International, MSNBC and BBC World News.

Siepker is a registered independent. The event at Wartburg College is about discussing ideas, not advancing an ideology or platform, Siepker said.

"It's not my endorsement of him (Braley) or anything like that," Siepker said. "It's not a campaign rally."

MSNBC in 2012 termed "Iowa Nice" "the single-most-entertaining ad to come out of Iowa this political season."

The Atlantic Monthly, Huffington Post, Omaha World-Herald and other media published stories on "Iowa Nice."

In the video, Siepker, pictured near the state Capitol and in farm settings, defends agriculture and champions the state's history of tolerance - the legalization of gay marriage and opportunities for women as attorneys, for example. It also spotlights the science involved in modern farming.

The video went live at about 10:30 p.m. Jan. 1, 2012 and earned instant street credibility online.

"By the next day I was getting recognized in the mall," Siepker said.

Siepker said he's humbled that Braley would join him for the Wartburg session.

"I think that's something, that a Senate candidate is willing to share the stage ... with a guy whose known for swearing, if you will," Siepker said.

Siepker said he is interested in developing similar events with other Iowa politicians. He mentioned U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.

"I would love to sit down and have an open conversation like this," Siepker said.

Siepker said Wartburg College is expected to make video of the event available online. He said more details would follow on how the event can be viewed online.