SALT LAKE CITY — It started with an idea.
And a sick day.
“It was something I’d always had brewing in my head,” Lucas McGraw, director of the Community Film Project, said. “I was sick one day and I wrote it all out on paper.
McGraw's idea, which he set down in 2015, was to create a beacon for filmmaking, musical and acting talent in northern Utah’s Davis County. He wanted to take the best aspects of community theater and fuse them into a volunteer film organization.
Fast forward two years and the project’s debut feature film, “Before Your Time,” is set to premiere at Kaysville Theatre on Oct. 20.
The movie takes place in fictional Bountifield where 17-year-old Dylan and his two younger sisters are forced to move after the death of their mother. While their father is keen to leave the past behind, Dylan finds his father’s guitar and a bucket list of activities he wrote years before.
With the help of his siblings and new friends, Dylan becomes determined to complete the list for his father and recently departed mother, even though it could push his father to face unresolved memories. The film explores themes of togetherness, forgiveness and hope during difficult times.
McGraw said “Before Your Time” is the first of many planned feature and short films. Profits from the film will go directly to upcoming productions.
McGraw, who works as a film and video producer for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, intended the all-volunteer Community Film Project to be a foundation and springboard for rising film talent, both cast and crew, in Davis County.
“And I mean, you’re dealing with volunteer crew. Most of the actors, this is the first time they’ve appeared in anything — which is awesome. That’s part of the reason why we are doing this.”
Another reason McGraw started the Community Film Project was to bring community members together and mark Davis County as a place on the map for quality filmmaking.
“It highlights community, and that’s huge,” McGraw said. “I wouldn’t have known about the city of Astoria, Oregon, had it not been for the movie ‘The Goonies.’ We wanted to bring those kinds of stories to our community in Davis County.”
Karlie Mathews, marketing director, musician and an actor in “Before Your Time,” was on the brink of letting go of her dreams when she came across the Community Film Project.
“I had kind of given up on myself. All the work I had done musically didn't seem to make an impact like I wanted it to and I lost confidence in my talents,” Mathews said. “I submitted my music to the project. Then, they asked me to come to meetings and get more involved, so I did.
“From this, I've been able to do a commercial for Deseret Industries and have my music in another video for the church. It was a dream come true for me. Then, to be able to act in the film — my second love — was another dream come true.”
Mathews, who plays Blair in the movie, expressed her concern about the inaccessibility of the film industry, but said because the Community Film Project is organized like community theater — anyone from the nearby community can become involved and gain valuable filmmaking experience.
“We’re creating a place where people can come and explore any part of filmmaking that they want,” Mathews said. “Whether they’re interested in production or acting or music — there are so many elements that go into making a movie that it’s just a great place for people to connect and to network, and to just learn and grow.”
Mathews said she was blown away by the talent Davis County and its residents had to offer, and she was glad they could be featured in this way through film.
“You always think the talent is somewhere else,” Mathews said. “But it’s not. It’s right here in our own community.”
If you go
What: Community Film Project's “Before Your Time.”
When: Oct. 20-21, 7 p.m. (4 p.m. matinees on Saturday, Oct. 21); Oct. 23-26, 7 p.m.
Where: Kaysville Theatre, 21 Main Street, Kaysville