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Laramie Movie Scope:
Jordan Brady interview

An interview with director Jordan Brady

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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June 7, 1999 -- Jordan Brady, the writer and director of "Dill Scallion," a movie premiering in Laramie on Friday at the Fox Theatre, said he is thrilled at the opportunity for his Country-Western film to go mainstream.

Brady has gotten good reactions from his movie about Country-Western singer Dill Scallion, played by Billy Burke, at film festivals. Now, he hopes to see the film do well in Laramie so he can get the film into wider release.

"Bring it on!" Brady said of the world premiere of the movie in Laramie, "The film will have a chance to prove itself."

Brady said he thinks the film will appeal to a wide audience that is generally not usually catered to by film makers based in Los Angeles and New York. "They're not in touch with anything in between."

The movie premiered Friday, June 4 to a very small audience at the Fox Theatre. After a packed house "sneak preview" of the film on June 3, where most of the tickets were given away free.

"Dill Scallion" is the story of a young Country-Western singer-songwriter who suddenly bursts on the music scene the way that Billy Ray Cyrus did a number of years ago, with a catchy tune and a catchier dance step.

The movie is filmed like a documentary, but the characters are fictional. The story is similar to those in "The Commitments" and "That Thing You Do," but it is the first mock documentary of its kind using Country-Western music instead of rock and roll.

Dill Scallion is a school bus driver who dreams of fame and fortune as a singer. He gets a break when he is discovered at a talent contest. He writes a hit song, "You Shared You" based on his girlfriend's cheating ways, but it his crazy broken-foot dance step that catches the public's imagination.

The film's comic tone is sustained throughout, but Brady doesn't really make fun of the music so much as he makes fun of what fame and money do to people.

Another character in the film, Bubba Pearl (well played by David Koechner of "Primary Colors" and "Wag the Dog"), remains decent and level-headed throughout the film, and has a price tag hanging from the brim of his hat. He seems to represent more traditional Country-Western singers who perform mainly for the love of the music. Also in the film are Henry Winkler of "Scream" and "The Waterboy."

There are cameo appearances by Willie Nelson, LeAnn Rimes and Travis Tritt. Original music for the movie is written by Sheryl Crow.

Bryan Mercer, vice president of Trans-Lux's theater division, said he liked the movie when he saw it at a film festival and decided to give it a try. He said, "People loved it." The movie sold out screenings at several film festivals, Brady said.

Mercer first saw the firm at the Taos Film Festival, Brady said, at Trans-Lux's Storyteller Theater. When Brady and Mercer started talking it turned out that they had met 12 years ago when Mercer was operating a night club in Huntsville, Ala., and Brady was a stand-up comic there.

Brady will be in Laramie for the world premiere of his movie, as will be Dill Scallion (Billy Burke) and Bubba Pearl (David Koechner) and Scott Fedro, an investor in the film.

For Brady and Fedro, the premiere Friday at the Fox Theatre is the realization of a three-year project. Brady wrote the film in 1996. He originally sold it to the Disney studio, but bought it back in order to produce it himself. Filming was started on June 10, 1997 and editing was completed in 1998.

The film cost about $114.5 million less than "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace," at a mere $499,000. Brady said he was able to film the big outdoor concert scenes by booking the "Dill Scallion and Dillionaires" band into Country-Western concerts in Texas and Minnesota. Brady's film crew was able to get needed concert footage at both places.

Brady said the tight budget gave him the discipline to make a tighter, more focused film. He calls it "Guerrilla-independent film making."

Reaction to the film has been good enough that Brady has been offered a Warner Brothers picture called "Dysfunctional," about the Partridge Family, and he has started pre-production work on "The Third Wheel," which is being produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon of "Good Will Hunting." Damon and Affleck also will have cameo roles in the film.

Brady hopes the film does well in Laramie and that he can bring that momentum with him to the Nashville Film Independent Festival on June 11, where the print will be rushed after playing in Laramie.

Brady plans to re-create Dill Scallion's journey to Nashville using the same 40-foot Dill Scallion tour bus used in the movie. It will be almost two years to the day that Dill Scallion will show at the Nashville film festival since filming began.

"This is why Laramie is so cool," Brady said. "I'm calling on all the people of Laramie to catapult us into the mainstream."

For more information on this film, including director's column, trailer, soundtrack, film festival, reviews, cast, crew, production notes, e-mail dill etc, click on this link to the official home page of Dill Scallion.

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Copyright © 1999 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)