Actor Scott Glenn, a 32-year Blaine County resident, took a break from acting in a big-budget Hollywood movie last summer to help shed a little limelight on the obscure beauty and hidden talents of southeastern Idaho.
During a month-long break from the filming of "Sucker Punch," Glenn took a role in "Magic Valley," an independent film directed by Buhl native Jaffe Zinn.
The film was shot in and around Buhl, Idaho, last year and has since been screened at film festivals in New York, Europe and Asia.
"Magic Valley" was made for only $600,000 and has not yet been released for distribution. It will be screened at the Sun Valley Film Festival, scheduled for March 15-18 in Ketchum and Sun Valley.
The movie features Glenn as Ed Halfner, the fictional sheriff of Gooding County, as well as a number of professional and local actors. The movie weaves together fictional stories of a town's residents, all of whom are connected to a girl's disappearance.
"The character is a lot more colorful than the ones I usually get," said Glenn in an interview earlier this month following a cocktail party to celebrate the kickoff of fundraising for the Sun Valley Film Festival. "The bigger the film, the less opportunity you have to be edgy, oddly funny or disturbing or real—any of the things that turn on an artist.
"On a $90 million film, you're a corporate investment. The board of a multinational
conglomerate that has invested in it wants to know why this person was cast in this film. There is nothing wrong with that, but with such a large investment, the most important feature becomes predictability."
Glenn said "Magic Valley" had a positive economic impact on Gooding County, employing four actors, a production crew of eight from out of state and a "bunch of helpers" from Boise.
"Even when a small film comes to a community, there's a big economic and emotional impact," he said. "Its good for a community. For better or worse, this culture is excited about movies. Everyone wants to help out."
< The well-known Hollywood star had to sign a special Screen Actor's Guild contract to take a role in Zinn's film and work for less than union minimum wage. The film was cut in Zinn's parents' basement in Buhl, where Zinn's father works as a fish farmer.
"We did everything we could to make this happen," Glenn said. "The real star of the film is Gooding County, including the Snake River."
Zinn studied film making at New York University, winning accolades for experimental videos, including "The Seven Sins of Daniel Tucker," but he returned home to Buhl to make his first feature film.
"'Magic Valley' is a movie that examines the daily lives of people unknowingly in the midst of a tragedy, and what it means to be unaware of what's just around the corner. I like to think of it as a slice-of-life prequel to Roland Emmerich's 2009 masterpiece '2012,'" wrote Zinn on the Tribeca Film Festival website.
The director recently returned to New York City and could not be reached for comment, but he is expected to attend the screening of "Magic Valley" in Sun Valley in March.
Tribeca Film Festival senior programmer Genna Terranova called the film "an atmospheric vision," and a "ruminative look at a bored and numbed town on the verge of a wakeup call."
"His [Zinn's] keen voice also speaks profoundly to the disconnection of community and the decline of morale in a struggling recession-worn American society," Terranova wrote.
Glenn said he was convinced by Idaho film producer Heather Rae to read Zinn's script, and later decided to take on the project during a month-long break from filming "Sucker Punch," directed by Zack Snyder and released last year.
"I just loved the script because it's not predictable," Glenn said. "It's not a romantic comedy or an action movie or a horror film. There is a lot of humor in it, but it turns serious in a good way. It's something anyone can relate to. It's about how when you wake up in the morning, the things you think are most important in life can change."
Glenn addressed a small crowd of film enthusiasts and potential festival sponsors at the Sun Valley Film Festival party, saying he had more fun working on "Magic Valley" than he has had working on some films that cost 20 times as much to make.
"Independent films on their own are often the best for an actor because the parts allow him to dig more and to show more of his emotional resources," he said.
"It's great that it will be shown here because a lot of the people who worked on it can come see it."
Sun Valley Film Festival: March 15-18, 2012
"Ketchum, Idaho has been welcoming the film industry since Averell Harriman opened America's first ski resort in 1936. In 2012, the Sun Valley Film Festival will bring the area's rich cinematic tradition into the 21st century by welcoming cutting-edge independent films, premieres, exciting children's programming and previews of new television and web series. This spring, filmmakers from around the world bring their vision to the Sun Valley Film Festival and you're invited to watch it come into focus."
From the Sun Valley Film Festival website, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony Evans: email@example.com