©2011 Idaho Press-Tribune

CALDWELL — Some kids dream of being astronauts.  Others dream about belting a walk-off homer in Game 7 of the World Series. For local boyhood friends Jay Pickett and Gary Hollie, it was always about making a movie together.

This coming Saturday, at the prestigious Beverly Hills Film Festival, that lifelong dream will become a reality when the two Caldwell natives and Vallivue High School graduates screen the world premiere of their independent film “Soda Springs.”

The two go back to their days in seventh grade at Vallivue Junior High and remained close friends despite the fact life took them in dramatically different directions.

“In high school we would actually have these heart-to-heart talks about making a movie because we were both interested in the film world.”

Pickett went to Boise State University to study theatre arts and then the University of California-Los Angeles while Hollie began a successful career in management with Microsoft Corp. and then in international business.

A decade ago, Pickett rekindled their shared aspiration.

“It originally started from me wanting to take more control of my career,” Pickett said. “I’d spent a lot of time on soap operas, but felt that world was shrinking. As good as they’d been for me and as good a training ground, I felt the whole business changing. I didn’t feel creatively it was giving me what I wanted and needed, so I started to think about writing a screenplay or coming up with a feature film idea of some sort.”

That’s when Pickett received a CD from another old friend and Idaho native, Dyrk Godby.

“It was this very cool CD of country songs he’d written and performed in Nashville and it started me down the road to writing a screenplay with a kind of country music backdrop to it,” Pickett said.

Pickett finally completed a full version of the screenplay and sent it to his old friend, Hollie, to get his feedback.

“We started to collaborate and pretty soon the ideas really started to take off,” Pickett said.

“We’d always talked about doing this project, but it was never the right time,” Hollie said. “When he was ready I was in the middle of something and when I was ready he was in the midst of some project. This time the stars aligned …”

Hollie said it was obvious his lifelong friend had “reached deep into his heart to put this thing to paper … and so I said yes, ‘Let’s do this now.’”

From that point on, the film took on a life of its own, the two men said. They brought on another co-executive producer and friend James “Jamer” Rousch, who shared their vision.

Actors, film crews, family and friends all contributed to the film that has its world premiere Saturday. Pickett and Hollie enlisted to help of hundreds of local residents, businesses, ranchers and others in the making of Soda Springs.

Big day approaches for locally grown filmakers

Jay Pickett and Gary Hollie have a lifetime goal approaching, and it stirs plenty of emotions for the locally grown filmmakers whose movie, “Soda Springs,” screens Saturday at the prestigious Beverly Hills Film Festival.

 “For me it has been the experience of a lifetime to see this come this far and to do it with my best friend and my family,” Pickett said. “We have had so many people that have helped us and made contributions along the way.

Pickett admitted he feels some pressure as the premiere approaches, along with his friend and fellow filmmaker, Hollie.

“We feel it (pressure) and hope that what we’ve done on film translates to other people watching it … that they feel the passion and the heart we put into it. That’s what we hope comes across.”

“When you think about all the details that have gone into this … into a scene … the painstaking efforts to put a 30-second spot in the movie together,” Hollie said. “I’m still caught up in those, but I’m also looking forward to being able to watch it for it for what it is instead of all the pieces it’s taken to get there. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster at times to put this thing together, but it’s been an incredible experience I wouldn’t trade for anything ... to be able to do this finally with Jay.”

The business side of Hollie has also been firmly focused on marketing the independent film.

And what about another project? Both men say plans are already in the works for another feature film that they plan to film once again in the Gem State.

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Stars of “Soda Springs”

When Jay Pickett collaborated with longtime friend Gary Hollie to write the screenplay for Soda Springs, their goal was to create complex characters.

“These characters are not cardboard cutouts,” Pickett said.

They took inspiration from the film “High Noon” and its complex characters. There is nothing in the human psyche or human nature that is simple. Everything is clouded and complicated.

“We feel like our actors really came through for us and we have some great performances in the film,” Pickett added.

The two said they felt fortunate to get several top actors to be part of their independent film project including Tom Skerritt, Patty McCormack, Michael Bowen and Victoria Pratt.

Tom Skerritt

“Jay had written this with someone like Tom to play Eden’s father and for us to be able to get him was very fortunate,” Hollie said. “The energy he brought to the character and how he was able to morph himself from a healthy man to this not-so-healthy older man was amazing to watch.”

Patty McCormack

Veteran actress Patty McCormack plays Eden’s mother. An Academy Award nominee as a child for her role in “The Bad Seed” McCormack recently played in the movie “Frost, Nixon.” “She is a terrific, terrific actress,” Pickett said.

Michael Bowen

Plays the antagonist in the film. He’s appeared in the movies “Magnolia” and “Jackie Brown,” a host of television shows and a number of Quentin Tarintino films.

Henry Darrow

Another veteran character actor who has appeared in “The High Chaparral,” “Magnum PI,” and “Hawaii 5-0,” he traveled from his home in North Carolina for the shoot in Idaho. “”He enjoyed his time here,” Hollie said. “He said he hadn’t been on a horse in forever, but when he got going he was a real champ.”

Jay Pickett

Plays Eden Jackson, the central character of the movie. Eden is a troubled man sent to prison for manslaughter who returns to his hometown hoping to rebuild his life.

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