We often hear the expression “dream big” because “dreams really do come true.” It is a positive mantra for parents to offer their children. Don Emerson Sr., a lifelong Fruitland, Washington, (due north of Davenport) farmer and logger, believed that his two sons, Donnie Jr. and Joe, had musical skills that, if honed, could provide a future for them in music.
In 1979, when the boys were still in high school, Don Sr. built a small recording studio, purchased instruments, and even built a concert venue at a cost of thousands of dollars. He sold off the vast portion of his 1,600 acres to finance the dream for his sons. Donnie and Joe practiced several hours a day after their farm chores were done. They were not playing rock and roll cover songs; Donnie was writing the songs at the rate of one or two a day.
To make a long story sort of short, the boys produced a record in their studio and named it “Dreamin’ Wild.” They hand-peddled the vinyl to the small communities around Fruitland, never reaching Spokane or Seattle. They brought the record to school in Hunters where classmates (class of 13 for Donnie) were less than impressed. Needless to say, the record never took off – until …
Decades later, a collector who haunted thrift stores digging through record bins, discovered an unopened copy of “Dreamin’ Wild” in a small antique store in Spokane. He had heard about the album on a collectors’ blog. “Dreamin’ Wild” was resurrected and distributed by Light in the Attic Records in 2012.
Fast-forward to 2021 when filming began in Fruitland on a movie version of the Emerson brothers and their family’s support of their “Dreamin’ Wild.” Beau Bridges plays Don Sr., Casey Affleck, Donnie, and Walton Goggins, Joe. Noah Jupe and Jack Dylan Grazer play teenage Donnie and Joe, respectively. And guess who plays their younger sister Rose: our Mazama neighbors’ daughter, Maeve Campbell.
I asked Maeve (age 12) what her most interesting experience was while on set of the film. She answered, “We actually had no idea who was in the film until we arrived on set. I kind of freaked out right away when I recognized the actors who play my older brothers. I knew Noah Jupe from ‘Wonder’ and ‘The Quiet Place,’ one of the scariest films I’’ve ever seen. I knew my other brother in ‘Dreamin’ Wild,’ Jack Dylan Grazer, from the ‘Shazam!’ movie, and he’s also the voice of Alberto Scorfano the sea monster from ‘Ron’s Gone Wrong.’ Noah and Jack even Facetimed with my brother Forrest to say ‘hi’ to him. Beau Bridges is my dad in the film; he was nice, super laid-back.”
Maeve’s brother Forrest (age 15) played in their mother’s movie “Maysville” that I wrote about in this column recently. That movie is just one of Forrest’s growing credits and activities. I asked Forrest how he juggles acting with schooling. He said, “Post-COVID, auditions are starting to roll in again. When they come in, we usually get a few days to submit them. I do need to budget my time with school, sports and music. It helps that they always have a deadline, which has helped me with other commitments such as practices for a band I started about a year ago. My hope and dream is that I’ll land a show one day. If that came true, our family would have to figure out whether I would move to home schooling. I’d really miss seeing my friends at school. Sports and music would need to take a back seat for a time, but I’d hope that I could juggle it. It would be worth it!” Dream Big!
Older sister Eden (17) has been acting since she was 5. I asked her how she became interested in acting. She replied, “I would credit my introduction to the industry to my mom, who’s always pushed me to try different things. The summer after kindergarten, she enrolled me in an acting class. I still don’t know why, but I just loved it. Not long after the class ended, the teacher was casting for a commercial for CenturyLink; she called me in to audition. I was cast in the commercial, which looking back, I think was a bit of beginner’s luck. After that, I got an agent who gets auditions for me. I’ve been working mostly in independent films and commercials on and off ever since.”
Michele Englehart, mother of these aspiring actors recounts, “One of the craziest times the family had juggling things was when Eden had to be in Atlanta to film ‘Fear Street.’ Forrest was filming ‘Maysville’ at that time and, since I was the producer on ‘Maysville’ and had to be there the entire time we filmed it, I asked several friends and family to be Eden’s guardian on the set over several weeks. They flew in from all over to meet up with her in Atlanta. Looking back, I’m surprised it all worked out!”