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Local girl featured in movie premiering in eastern Idaho this weekend

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IDAHO FALLS – A new movie that premiered in eastern Idaho this weekend features an appearance from a local girl.

“Once I was Engaged” opened Friday in Rexburg, Idaho Falls and Blackfoot and is the spinoff to the 2015 film, “Once I was a Beehive.”

Maclain Nelson, the film’s writer and director, describes it as a faith-based romantic comedy that combines a touch of “Father of the Bride” with “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

In a conversation with EastIdahoNews.com, Nelson said the film takes place two years after the first film, which was about a teenage girl who reluctantly joined her new stepcousin at a summer camp for girls in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints following the death of her father. This film focuses on another character named Carrie Carrington, played by Lisa Valentine Clark. In the midst of so many other important life decisions and plans, she’s grappling with her biggest one yet — relationships and marriage.

In the same way that the first film poked fun at the LDS culture surrounding girls camp, Nelson says this film focuses on the faith’s culture of getting married at a young age and the emotional ride that comes along with it.

“Fans have been screaming for a sequel ever since we released the first film,” Nelson says in a news release. “And we are beyond excited for everyone to get back to the movie theatre and experience the next chapter in the lives of their favorite campers.”

“Once I was Engaged” brings back all the original cast from the previous film, as well as a few new faces. Among them is Bart Johnson, known for his portrayal of Coach Jack Bolton in “High School Musical.” Tanner Gillman from BYUTV’s “Studio C” also makes an appearance.

Avery VanSteenkiste, a 13-year-old actor from Menan, makes her film debut with a small role in the film. She plays the part of young Hannah.

“She really doesn’t care what other people think and just likes to be herself,” Avery says of her character.

Avery is the daughter of Sarah and Mike VanSteenkiste, who is a managing partner at Kelly Canyon Ski Resort in Ririe. Avery has always been involved in musical theater and when she heard about the audition for “Engaged,” she jumped at the chance to try out.

“My mom was like, ‘You should try out.’ And I was like, ‘Oh ok,'” says Avery.

Avery says being part of this film project was an amazing experience and she enjoyed meeting new people and making new friends. She’s hoping to pursue a career as an actor and is looking forward to pursuing other film roles.

Avery and several other members of the cast attended the film’s premiere at the Paramount 5 in Rexburg Saturday night. Nelson attended a premiere in Arizona and he says the response has been fantastic.

Though it’s a followup film that’s LDS-centric, Nelson says you don’t have to have seen the original film to enjoy this one and its themes of making important life decisions are relatable to everyone.

“I won’t give away too much, but old and new fans alike get to learn so much more history of
the girls,” Clare Niederpruem, another actor in the film, explains in a news release. “Audiences will absolutely adore them, and who knows, maybe there’s a prequel story to ‘Beehive’ that needs to be told.”

“This movie is the warmest and funniest thing you’ll see this year,” Lisa Valentine Clark adds.

“Once I was Engaged” is playing at the Paramount 5 in Rexburg, the Paramount Theater in Idaho Falls and the Blackfoot Movie Mill. Watch the trailer in the video player above.

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