‘Thunder Road’ movie to honor forgotten veterans

MARSHALL – In the summer of 2011, three young actors with a dream came to Granite Falls to listen to the stories of returning veterans afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Two years later, two of them came to Marshall to promote their movie project based on those interviews.

Matt Dallas and Steve Grayhm came to the Veterans Job Fair on Thursday as part of the next phase of getting the movie “Thunder Road” into production via a Kickstarter fundraising campaign. Their partner, Charlie Bewley, had a prior engagement.

“It is really wonderful to have them back,” said Yellow Medicine County Veterans Services Officer Michelle Gatz. “When they first came to Granite Falls, they touched our hearts, all of us.”

The three partners have traveled across the country collecting hundreds of hours of interviews with veterans, their families, neurologists and neuropsychologists.

“I think they’re a subculture of people that have been completely forgotten about,” Grayhm said. “Our government doesn’t know how to handle them, and Hollywood doesn’t think anyone cares.”

Grayhm said his screenplay was partly inspired by growing up listening to his grandfather’s stories about life as a POW during World War II.

“My mother and grandmother told me he was a very changed man from what he was,” Grayhm said. “So for this generation, I felt a call to duty to tell the story of what brings about that change.”

Grayhm created the roll of Sgt. Calvin Cole, a veteran of multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dallas plays his best friend from high school through the military, Pvt. Darryl Sparks.

“Two years ago we were working on research for the screenplay and character development,” Dallas said. “I can honestly say we’ve done more research than anything in the history of film. Hollywood does have a way of glamorizing, especially war. So it’s important to us to get as truthful account as possible.”

The partners’ present goal is to raise the initial $750,000 through Kickstarter.com by Sept. 12. Currently, they’re at $120,000.

“We decided to put the power into people’s hands, and we turned to Kickstarter.” Dallas said. “We’ve taken it all over Hollywood, and people tell us nobody is interested in doing a movie about PTSD, and we believe that’s not the truth.”