Arguably, the most popular fiction movie ever made about Idahoans is “Napoleon Dynamite.”
When it comes to fictional TV shows, there are a few but most use Idaho only as a setting.
The creators of the web series “Idaho Boys” want to change that.
Written and produced by Potlatch born and raised brothers Cameron Crain, 48, and James Russell, 29, “Idaho Boys” is about three politically diverse and dysfunctional brothers working to save their family farm.
“A redneck ‘Arrested Development,’” is how Russell describes it.
Russell plays Jerry Ozeander in the series. Liberal-leaning Jerry went to college, traveled the world and is now back at home on the family farm living with his good ole’ boy brother Troy, a bit of a wild card who never left home. There’s also an anxious middle brother, Darren. In the show’s first season, short skit-length episodes dealt with the brothers’ opposite reactions to the 2017 election, Russian meddling and Troy’s discovery of a dating app for Idahoans called “Who-da-ho.”
The show is inspired by the people and places they grew up with. It doesn’t pick sides when it comes to politics. At the end of each episode, the fictional brothers always end up listening to each other, and family wins over ideology.
“They’re real people. That’s always been real important to us,” said Crain, who plays the entertaining instigator Troy. “The characters are not caricatures. I think there’s some sensitivity to that. I want Idahoans to be proud. If they’re not, we’re missing the mark.”
The series premiered on the Idaho Boys Facebook page in 2017, and the videos have received more than 100,000 views. The brothers are working on a second season to be released this summer and started a crowdfunding campaign on seedandspark.com to pay for it. Depending on the level of contribution, donors can earn T-shirts, have their name written into the show or even star in an episode.
Ultimately the brothers want to make “Idaho Boys” into a TV series for Netflix, Hulu or another major distributor. It’s a tough industry to break into, but there are more opportunities than there used to be.
“Hollywood is more decentralized now because of Netflix and YouTube,” said Russell. “Web series like ours are disrupting the industry. We think that’s a good thing, because there are stories that need to be told about other people in rural places.”
While “Idaho Boys” opens with shots of Potlatch, for financial and logistical reasons indoor scenes are shot in Reno, Nev., where Crain lives and works as a development director and fundraiser. Russell lives in Los Angeles, where he works in hotel sales. The opening song is called “Company Town,” a reference to Potlatch history. Some episodes feature the 1885 family farm now owned and operated by their cousins, Ty and Teresa Kerns. If they had the funding, they would shoot all the episodes on location there, Crain said.
“We want to be as authentic as possible.”
At this stage in the show’s development, people can support the series by liking, commenting and sharing videos on the Idaho Boys Facebook page or by contributing to and/or following the crowdsourcing campaign.
“We need to make a case there’s an audience out there to go to the next level. We feel confident there is,” Crain said.