Filmmaker Discovers Jake's Corner

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Jake's Corner will soon be going to the big screen, and people across the nation will be seeing the charm of the very small community on Gila County's Highway 188.

"Jake's Corner," the film, was written and will be directed by Jeff Santo, who previously wrote "This Old Cub."

Santo said the movie "This Old Cub," written about his father and Chicago Cub legend Ron Santo. The film tells the story of his father's battle against diabetes, which is what led him to Jake's Corner.

He said there is a man, Bill Holden, who became inspired by "This Old Cub," and watched the movie seven times.

Holden asked if he could meet with Santo at Jake's Corner to discuss the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

When Santo arrived in the community, located on Highway 188 four miles off the Beeline Highway, he realized immediately that a good movie could be shot at the location.

Santo said he was inspired by the rustic charm of the community that consists of a general store, a bar and the trailers people in the community live in.

Jake's Corner is small, centered around one corner built to look like the Old West.

While the movie is fictional, the premise of the movie was conceived by the real-life tragedy of Santo's grandparents who died in a car accident on their way to visit Ron Santo and his family during spring training. The Chicago Cubs spring training home is in Mesa.

But the story also focuses on the real Jake's Corner community, and Santo said he plans to have many of the roles go to locals.

The main character in the film is former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Dunn, who was drafted by the National Football League after winning the 1988 award while playing at Arizona State University.

Dunn played one year of pro ball, and tragedy struck when his parents died in a plane crash while coming out to see him play.

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Mike Gauvin, right, owner of Jake's Corner Bar, with Jeff Santo who has written a film that revolves around the Jake's Corner community.

Dunn, the story goes, decided to leave the NFL and disappeared before resurfacing in the small community.

Dunn moved to Jake's Corner and purchased the town, including the bar and the general store.

The story line then makes a turn when Dunn's sister and brother-in-law are killed in a car accident in which their 8-year-old son, Spence, survives.

Dunn is given the responsibility of raising Spence and delays telling him that his parents died in the accident.

Spence, throughout the movie, believes his parents are recuperating at a hospital.

The accident weighs and delays Dunn from dealing with the truth as he still harbors pain from his own parents' death 15 years earlier, Santo said.

"There is a drama and uniqueness of this desert town," Santo said. "It's been great."

Most of the footage will be shot at Jake's Corner Bar, where most of the cast will be playing employees of the business.

"Jake's Corner has all the elements in place to be a huge success," he said, adding that the town has a huge heart as big as the story line of the movie.

Mike Gauvin and Rick Heppler, co-owners of Jake's Corner Bar, said they are currently seeking investors to fund the movie.

"Jake's Corner," the film, is budgeted at $2 million and they are selling 100 shares at $20,000 apiece.

Santo hopes to begin shooting the movie in the fall. Shooting will start no later than January 2007.

For more information, visit jakescornerthemovie.com.

-- To reach Michael Maresh call 474-5251 ext. 112 or e-mail mmaresh@payson.com.

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