From the Franklin County Times:

02-04-04 Lights, camera, action
Mike Prince
FCT Staff Writer

If a local film producer can secure more financing in the coming weeks for a feature film she wrote and plans to direct, she will attain a longtime dream and Franklin County will play a prominent role.

Tonya S. Holly, president of Cypress Moon Productions in Florence, said she needs approximately $2.8 million, half her total budget, to make her movie, “When I Find The Ocean.” And the 17-year veteran of the movie industry said she is confident that shooting will begin April 18 in Franklin County, where much of the story takes place. For now, Holly is moving forward with the project.

“Things are looking good,” said Holly, who in recent days has scouted Franklin County for talent and locations for her movie. “We have an important trip to California at the end of February, and I hope we will have all our financing by the time we return to Alabama in early-March.”

Although Holly expects to secure financing in California, she said she hopes to attract Alabama investors to the project.

“It would help our cause with Hollywood executives if some local investors got on board with us,” she said. “This could be a great thing for northwest Alabama, especially economically, and I want to make it happen.

“So many movies that take place in Alabama aren’t actually made in Alabama,” said Holly, who has family connections to Franklin County. “I want to shoot this movie here.”

In fact, Holly said she hopes that “When I Find The Ocean” will be the first of many feature films made in the region.

“I plan to make more movies here,” she said. “And I hope that other production companies will make movies here, too.”

Holly said she has a commitment from actor Louis Gossett Jr. to star in “When I find The Ocean” and is hopeful that Kris Kristofferson and Billy Bob Thornton will join the cast. Naomi Judd, Graham Greene and Richard Tyson will also have roles in the movie, Holly said.

“I’ve worked with Louis in the past,” said Holly, who said she plans to use the Russellville City Jail and a Bear Creek cabin, among other Franklin County locations, in the movie. “I sent Louis a copy of the script, and, thankfully, he liked it. We’re thrilled and fortunate to have him with us.”

Holly describes “When I Find The Ocean” as a family adventure. The story takes place in 1965 and follows the journey of an 11-year-old girl, played by Holly’s daughter Lily Matland Holly, from northwest Alabama to the Gulf of Mexico at a critical time in her life.

“If we can get this movie made and in theaters, it will do well at the box office,” said Holly, who said she plans to use several people from Franklin County as extras in the movie. “Once we get it going, the possibilities are limitless.”