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By: Texas FFA
May 01, 2011


Texas FFA to Hit the BIG SCREEN!

As you may have heard, the Texas FFA was afforded a unique opportunity to participate in the making of an independent film about a major Texas FFA supporter, Mr. Dick Wallrath.   Because the Texas FFA is highlighted in the movie, we want to make sure you can stay up to date and follow movie updates and releases.  There are two Facebook pages you can follow:

• Deep in the Heart (Official)


• Deep in the Heart (Texas FFA)


Each Facebook site can be accessed to keep up to date with news, information and scheduled release.  Additionally, the Texas FFA page has information unique to the Texas FFA and the involvement of our members in the project.  The movie is currently in “post production” in Los Angeles.  Our Facebook pages will be a great way to keep informed.

About the Movie

DEEP IN THE HEART is a feature film documenting the true story of Texas entrepreneur Richard Wallrath.  The movie was filmed on location outside Austin, Texas, with actors Jon Gries (Napoleon Dynamite [Uncle Rico], Taken and September Dawn), Val Kilmer (Top Gun, Batman, Tombstone), D.B. Sweeney (Hear No Evil, Fire in the Sky and Memphis Belle) and Elaine Hendrix (Superstar, The Parent Trap, and Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion) in leading roles. 

Richard “Dick” Wallrath’s personal demons caused him to hit rock bottom. After losing everything – jobs, hope, and his family – Dick found faith, picked himself up and trudged on to eventually earn back the love of his children, build a nationally successful window company and become the leading all-time individual donor to Texas 4-H and Texas FFA Association.

The film -- directed by Chris Cain (Young Guns, Pure Country, Pure Country 2, and September Dawn) from an original screenplay by Brian A. Hoffman and Josh Fasulo -- is produced by Scott Duthie and Brian A. Hoffman.  The executive producer is Jay Hoffman.  DEEP IN THE HEART is independently developed and financed through 28 Entertainment a Los Angles based company.  Cain, Duthie and Jay Hoffman previously worked together on the films Pure Country 2 (Warner Bros. Pictures) and September Dawn (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment). DEEP IN THE HEART filmed entirely in Texas, post-production work is being conducted in Los Angeles. 

Texas Governor Rick Perry appears in the film as himself, reenacting his real-life presentation of an award to Wallrath acknowledging his contributions to the Texas FFA.   Gries plays the role of Wallrath, while Kilmer plays the pivotal role of an inspirational character known only as The “Bearded Man.”  Actor James Haven plays a supporting role.  Additionally, approximately 200 Texas FFA members appeared as part of the “convention scene” filmed in Austin.

Also making cameo appearances in the film are Dwight Armstrong – CEO, National FFA Organization; Ron Whitson, Director of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources – Texas Education Agency; Tom Maynard, Executive Director – Texas FFA Association; Blaze Currie, Leadership Coordinator – Texas FFA Association; and Aaron Alejandro, Executive Director – Texas FFA Foundation.   

Texas FFA and Dick Wallrath

In 2002, the Texas FFA Foundation was encouraged to contact Texas Rancher, and Philanthropist, - Dick Wallrath about getting involved with the FFA directly.  Mr. Wallrath had a reputation as a philanthropist who supported youth.  Between the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo and Rodeo Austin, Mr. Wallrath had purchased champion animals in excess of $5.3 million dollars.  While he was no stranger to the caliber of our young people, he was not as aware of all our program had to offer.

Mr. Wallrath began his support of the Texas FFA with a gift of $500,000, and later three additional generous gifts.  He eventually gave a total of $1.5 million dollars directly to the Texas FFA Foundation – making him the largest individual donor in Texas FFA’s 83-year.  Wallrath’s support grew to include scholarships from his foundation – Richard Wallrath Educational Foundation.

In 2008, Mr. Wallrath was approached by Jay Hoffman about making a movie telling his life’s story.  Mr. Hoffman believes there is a niche’ in Hollywood for positive stories/movies – scripts of people who have triumphed over adversity or those films with a message of high morals and character.   Mr. Wallrath didn’t put much thought in the idea at first, but as time passed he saw the value in sharing his personal story as a way to help/encourage other families who have been effected by alcoholisms devastation.  Brian A. Hoffman and Josh Fasulo began the process of interviews and research for the screenplay.  At the request of Mr. Wallrath, both Hoffman and Fasulo attended the Texas 4-H Round Up and the 82nd Annual Texas FFA Convention in Corpus Christi, Texas.  From that point on, the screenwriters were sold on the value of the FFA and the role, both FFA and 4-H, played in Mr. Wallrath’s life.

Texas FFA Association and Foundation staff worked with the screenwriters, producers and executive producer to ensure the story of the Texas FFA (and 4-H) were highlighted in the movie.  We are proud of our involvement and the “positive” story that came out of the calamity of Mr. Wallrath’s life. 

Scope of Wallrath Scholarships in Texas

“Education is what kids need to help their dreams come true.”

– Richard “Dick” Wallrath

Dick Wallrath and the Richard Wallrath Educational Foundation annually invest in the young people of the Texas FFA.  Here are the scholarships currently supported by Mr. Wallrath’s generosity:

• Dina Wallrath Robertson Memorial Star Awards

The Star Award – given at the Greenhand, Chapter, Lone Star, and American levels – is based on an exceptional overall Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) program and active FFA involvement. The four divisions – Production, Agribusiness, Agricultural Placement, and Agriscience – reflect the diversification of supervised agricultural experience programs and FFA student populations in the state.  16 — $1,000 Star Awards are given annually to Texas’ top FFA members.

• Agriscience Fair Awards

The Agriscience Fair recognizes high school students who are studying the application of scientific principles and emerging technologies in the agricultural industry. The program provides scholarships to FFA members planning to pursue a college degree in agricultural science while helping to provide a reliable supply of Agriscience graduates to meet the private and public agribusiness sectors’ needs.  30 – $1,000 Agriscience Fair Awards are given annually to those Texas FFA students who have excelled in their agriscience fair projects.

• Proficiency Awards

The Agricultural Proficiency Awards program encourages members to set personal goals and learn practical skills within specific disciplines of agriculture.  There are approximately 50 proficiency award areas annually FFA members can apply for, ranging from Agricultural Communications to Wildlife Production and Management.  Each Proficiency Award is $1,000. Mr. Wallrath has endowed 4 of these Proficiency Awards given annually during the Texas FFA Convention.

Richard “Dick” Wallrath Academic Scholarships

Established in 2006 by the Richard Wallrath Educational Foundation, 71 – $10,000 scholarships were given annually through 2010.  Today 35 - $10,000 scholarships are given to Texas FFA members who excel academically.   Recipients are selected based on academic performance and active FFA involvement.  Strong academic performance is expected in obtaining this scholarship.