Local filmmaker making Evergreen movie magic

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By Stephen Knapp

At last, somebody’s going to show those myopic New York studio executives and SoCal-centric Hollywood producers what folks here in Colorado’s fly-over foothills have known all along.

Evergreen has star quality.

If everything goes according to script, longtime local and first-time independent filmmaker Julie Gallahue will start shooting her premier solo project, “Left Unsaid,” right here on nature’s perfect soundstage sometime next spring. And, while she’s already found her leading lady and main man among Colorado’s professional ranks, Gallahue is convinced that a hefty infusion of local character will help her project shine brightly on the silver screen.

“This is a very colorful community, with lots of people who can bring something to the table,” Gallahue says. “Go into the Little Bear on a Friday night, and you’ll see what I mean. I wrote in a lot of small roles hoping local people will take them; things like bank tellers, waitresses, store clerks and bartenders.”

Truth is, Gallahue’s husband, Dave (a.k.a. “Diamond Dave”), tends bar at Bistro Blue and should be a shoo-in for a cameo, at least. Should be.

“He said he wouldn’t be in it unless he could be the love interest.”

If Evergreen’s outdoors deserve to be immortalized on celluloid, the town’s indoors will also take a prominent role in “Left Unsaid.” Bistro Blue and Cactus Jack’s Saloon & Grill have already been tagged for stardom, along with a bank, bookstore, art gallery and coffee shop to be named later. For domestic flavor, Betsy and Scott Spinney have graciously volunteered the use of their Brook Forest home.

“There are a lot of great locations in Evergreen,” says Gallahue, a 1988 EHS grad. “We’ll just have to see which ones work.”

Granted, just about everybody who’s ever seen a movie has toyed with the idea of making one, but not everybody has Gallahue’s talent, experience and — above all — industry savvy.

“I’ve worked on many independent productions for free, just to see how making a low-budget film works,” she says. “I’ve done commercials, industrials, music videos, and I’ve done props, makeup, wardrobe, production assistant, and I’ve been an assistant director twice. You just do whatever is required. That’s how it works in the independent film industry. You have to share the love a little bit.”

And that love has come home to Evergreen many-fold, allowing Gallahue to assemble a top-shelf, Colorado-grown film crew. Even so, she couldn’t have snagged the talent she did without first-rate bait.

“There are a lot of projects out there, and they have a lot of choices. They’ve got to believe in the project, and they wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t a quality script.”

In fact, Gallahue wrote the screenplay five years ago. “Left Unsaid” tells a modern tale of loss and recovery, isolation and reunion. The star, a typical suburban wife and mother, wakes up to find her rock-solid middle-class world in ruins.

“Her perceived perfect life is suddenly not what she thought it was, and it deteriorates from there. It’s a multi-generational, female-oriented drama about how unspoken issues in a family — the things we sweep under the rug — affect us and the people we love. It almost wrote itself, which kind of surprised me because I usually write comedy. But ‘Left Unsaid’ explores serious ideas about family and individuality in a fairly entertaining way.”

This might be a good time to mention that not all of the available roles are bit parts and walk-ons. So far, no one’s been chosen to portray the protagonist’s mother, and Gallahue’s counting on Evergreen to supply the right co-star.

“I know there are a lot of women up here who would be great in the role,” she says. “I’m really interested to see what kind of local talent tries out for the part.”

Five years ago, “Left Unsaid” played out on Bainbridge Island in Washington state. As Gallahue learned more about the stern economies necessary for independent film production, however, Evergreen’s star began rising fast.

“The more I looked at it, the more I realized there was nothing we could do on Bainbridge Island that we couldn’t do here just as well, or even better.”

But if “Left Unsaid” will cost barely a fraction of what MGM or Dreamworks lavish on the least of their products, it won’t be cheap. These days, Gallahue’s new production company, Goldie Mae Productions LLC, is working hard to raise capital and lower expenses.

“My dream budget is $100,000,” she says. “I could make it for $30,000, but the more we raise, the better it will be.”

A sizable cast of mountain-area moviegoers have already made the scene, volunteering nearly $1,000 and an extra-large RV to use as a mobile production studio. Mountain Girl Organics has pledged the profits from its special-edition Goldie Mae soap to the cause, and Cactus Jack’s is hosting an all-day “Left Unsaid” benefit bash on July 19.

“I’m hoping to have the movie trailer done by then,” Gallahue says. “That would be the perfect time to introduce it.”

But even starry-eyed dreamers without talent or spare change can get into the act. Making movies is a labor-intensive business requiring lots of willing hands.

“I’m looking for people who are willing to work in any capacity for free. We’ll need grips, gaffers, wardrobe — there’s a place for everybody. If somebody would volunteer to provide just one meal for the cast and crew, it would help tremendously.”

From a distance of nearly a year, Gallahue expects filming to run about two weeks. Following several months of grueling post-production work, she hopes to release “Left Unsaid” to DVD in early 2010. Once she begins screening her masterpiece at prestigious international film festivals, there’s no telling how far Evergreen’s fame could reach. Even so, the audience Gallahue most wants to impress is the one closest to home.

“I’d like to hold a town premier,” she says. “I’d love it if we could all sit down and see it for the first time together.

“I want this to be something the whole community can be proud of.”

To learn more about “Left Unsaid,” or to arrange an audition, call Julie Gallahue at 303-523-8302, or e-mail julesville@juno.com.