"I often wonder what our future. . . ."
The words hang in the air like bad perfume, full of promise and then a suffocating reality. In the next instant, before the sentence can find its verb, a drunken driver takes away the thought forever.
No one knows, of course, what Troy Caldwell and Tammy Hill were really talking about as they drove home from the movies on that June night six years ago. As Troy moved his Honda Prelude into the intersection at 39th South and Seventh East, a drunken driver barreled his truck into their car, and in an instant they were dead.
The 1982 deaths of the Brighton High School senior class president and the Brighton cheerleader enraged Salt Lakers, who successfully appealed to the Legislature the next winter to make the state's drunken driving laws tougher.
Now, in an effort to keep the lessons of that night alive in other ways, the State Office of Education is producing "An Early Winter," a 30-minute movie that will be shown to teenagers around the state.
Filming for the movie, based in part on a Deseret News story of the accident, was completed two weeks ago and it is expected that the movie will be available for school use sometime next spring.
The movie's director, Claudia Sisemore, hopes that "An Early Winter" will convey to teenagers the impact of drinking and driving - not through the usual dramatic footage of mangled autos, but through a quiet retelling of Tammy and Troy's story. The actual accident, in fact, occurs at the very end of the film.
Some of the dialogue, such as the scene in Troy's Honda seconds before the crash, is only supposed. But much of the dialogue is based on recollections from Troy and Tammy's families during extensive interviews with script writer Ross Richins.> The story shows the progression of Troy and Tammy's romance, their close relationships with their parents, and the events leading up to the crash.
A conversation between Troy and his mother, LaRue Caldwell, the day of the accident - in which LaRue worries about him driving all the way down to Trolley Square to the movies - sounds like a dramatic device to hint at the impending tragedy. But in fact, both LaRue and Tammy's father, Bob Hill, often worried that the roads were not safe.
For several of the cast members in the movie, "An Early Winter" is a disquieting reminder of an accident that has continued to haunt them for the past six years. Shauna Froelich, Tammy's cousin, plays the part of Tammy's older sister in the movie. Although Shauna volunteered for the part, she discovered that being on the set was hard to take.
For Lynda Tenney, who plays the part of a saleswoman in one brief scene, the movie is a way to reach out again to LaRue Caldwell. Tenney's children, Scott and Tanya, were friends of Troy's and Tammy's at Brighton, and after the accident she and LaRue became friends.
The movie is being shot for $35,000, a meager budget for a 30-minute film and about $100,000 less than the highest bid. According to Eileen Rencher, public affairs coordinator for the State Office of Education, many of the crew members are working at reduced rates because they believe so strongly in the project.
Cast members include Cottonwood High School students Trent Hanson as Troy and Brittney Lewis as Tammy; Ilene Wood as Tammy's mother; and Marilee VanWagenen as LaRue Caldwell.> The real LaRue has stayed away from the shooting. After 61/2 years, the memories are fresh enough without more reminders. After 61/2 years, she still tries to avoid the intersection at 39th South and Seventh East.