"We sent a letter to the Sun Valley organizers and said, 'We would love it if you would consider our film,'" said Heather Rae, Idaho-native and producer of Magic Valley.
Rae knows a thing or two about festivals, having showcased her productions Frozen River and The Dry Land at film fests across the planet.
"The difference between a good one and a great one is that a great festival really recognizes the value and significance of independent film," said Rae. "By the time a filmmaker gets to a festival, you're at a point where you've busted your ass for years, spent every dime you had, and you're now looking to engage an audience with your movie. A great festival makes filmmakers feel welcome and honored."
There's good reason to believe that Rae's Magic Valley will be welcomed in Sun Valley. In fact, there's dozens of reasons--not the least of which is that the film was shot on location in Buhl with native son Jaffe Zinn (who also wrote the original screenplay) behind the lens. The film was even cut in the basement of his parents' home in Buhl.
"The original title of the film was Buhl," remembered Rae. "But I received a phone call from the international sales company and they said,"--in a very thick French accent--"'Byooool, Idaho. Hmmm. This not a good film title.' I laughed and said, 'Fair enough.' So, it's Magic Valley."
Rae and Zinn cast 28 local actors for Magic Valley. But securing the film's lead actor proved a challenge.
"We knew that Scott Glenn would be absolutely perfect to play the sheriff of Gooding County," said Rae. "But he was filming a $100 million action movie [Sucker Punch] at the time. Well, the head of casting for Warner Bros. is a friend of mine, and it turns out that his mother lives here in Boise. I found out Scott's schedule and learned that he had a small window of time available."
Glenn was freed up for one week, which was ample time for an independent film. The entire shoot took 22 days. There's one more bonus: Glenn is a longtime Sun Valley resident.
"It's his home base. He and his wife Carol have lived there for more than 30 years," said Rae.
Glenn, Rae, Zinn and practically the entire cast and crew of Magic Valley will be on hand for its Idaho premiere on Saturday, March 16, at the Sun Valley Opera House as part of the inaugural Sun Valley Film Festival.