Spraggs' film to play Aug. 27 in Cody - By BUZZY HASSRICK
Hollywood will come to Cody on Aug. 27 with the Wyoming screening of a film written by Mark and Virginia Spragg, "An Unfinished Life."
"It's ostensibly set in Wyoming," Mark said.
Starring Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Lopez, the movie interweaves stories of deep friendship (Redford, Freeman) and deep alienation (Redford, Lopez).
"Redford gave the performance of his life," Mark said.
The movie will premier in New York City earlier in August.
"I'm delighted it's going to be in my hometown," Mark said, adding the event will be daunting as well. "I want my friends and family to like the film more than anyone else."
Virginia agreed, saying, "It's wonderful to have the community share in this achievement." She also said the message of the couple's accomplishment is important for high school students.
"From here you can go anywhere," Virginia said. "You don't have to live in a big city."
The screening and preceding reception will be by invitation only. The Spraggs are compiling a list of invitees, which will be sent to Film, Arts and Entertainment Manager Michell Howard of the Wyoming Travel and Tourism Division. She will also receive lists from the Cody chamber, Park County Travel Council and area elected officials.
The film office started working with the project in 2003, scouting movie locations - including Meeteetse - but lost out to Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, Howard said. Still, when the film was finally released, she wanted to capitalize on the setting.
"Theater-goers will think it was shot in Wyoming," she said. "We didn't get the economic impact, but we can tie in tourist promotions."
Howard kept her contacts with Miramax, even providing props during filming, and then asked for an early screening in the state.
Along with Cody, "An Unfinished Life" will be shown in 17 markets in Canada with a vacation package giveaway at a Cody area location, she said. Canadian television spots will promote the giveaway.
Meanwhile, Howard said she will continue to try to convince the Legislature to provide incentive programs for filming, as Canada does. She estimated the state would have received about $8 million if "An Unfinished Life" had been filmed in Wyoming.
The screening will begin at 7:30 p.m. with seating limited to 350. Between 200-250 people will be invited to the reception 5:30-7 p.m., all coordinated through Howard. Any remaining tickets will be given away, not sold, she added.
While the main stars will probably attend the New York premier, the state will try to entice other actors, Mark said. The film had five different release dates which became tangled in the separation of Disney and Miramax, until it was resolved in March.
Part of the deal gave Miramax a fall deadline for releasing films that were already shot, he said. The national release will be Sept. 9.
Spragg said he'll be on a book tour starting Aug. 16, the release of the paperback version, but will return for the Cody screening.
"I'd desperately like it to be appreciated and well thought of here," he said.
The project has been in the works for seven years, when the Spraggs completed the first draft. The filming finished July 2003.
"To have it out in the world is exciting and scary at the same time," Virginia said, because the film will finally be subject to critics' reviews.