It isn’t often that it takes nearly two decades for a follow-up to a successful movie to appear, but that’s the case with “Pure Country 2,” which isn’t a sequel to the 1992 picture starring George Strait but comes from the same creative team and shares a similar spirit. Writer-director Christopher Cain and his son, the actor Dean Cain, who co-wrote the script and has a cameo in the picture, talked about the film during a recent Dallas interview, accompanied by the picture’s star, singer Katrina Elam.

“I tell you, it wasn’t easy,” Christopher said about bringing the script to the screen. “When we finished the first ‘Pure Country’ back in the 1850s, or whenever it was, Bob Daly and Terry Semel were running Warner Bros. at the time, and they both liked the movie, partially because it made them a lot of money, partially because they just happened to like what the movie was about. So they said, well, let’s do one of these ‘Country’ movies every year. So we started developing things and brought in a bunch of writers.

“But part of the problem is, if haven’t lived or spent some time in the real world of rural America, it’s hard to understand that sense of humor. It’s hard to understand that perspective on how people live. Most of the ventures that have gone into making this kind of country music-driven movie have ended up as some ‘Hee Haw’-ish kind of ignoramus stuff. But because someone has a southern accent doesn’t mean they’re ignorant.

“Dean and I wrote this fifteen, sixteen years ago. It was actually green-lit about three months after we wrote it, with LeeAnn Rimes. But during the process nobody asked her if she wanted to be in the movie. When they went to her to start the movie, she said, ‘I don’t want to be in a movie—I don’t know how to act. I’ll be terrible.’ And so it went on the shelf and I went off and did something else.”

“It is absolutely not a sequel—it’s the brainchild of that fellow right there,” Dean said, nodding toward his father. “He came up with the idea and started to tell the story, and he hooked me right in, as he does with all his stories. And I said it sounded pretty good, and he said okay, start writing. So I started writing and what we do is collaborate a lot as writers. He’d send me in a direction, I write a bunch of pages and he rewrites them and I rewrite that, and after awhile we wind up with a project. So it’s really a stand-alone project. But it shares the same heart and feel—that same sort of texture the first one had. In that sense it’s in the same genre.”

This time around, the narrative is about a young girl gifted with a great voice who breaks into the Nashville country-music scene big-time, even touring with Strait (who plays what’s essentially a cameo) until she breaks the cardinal rules of honesty and fairness that moved heaven to give her the talent in the first place and abruptly loses her pipes. In other words, it wasn’t intended as another vehicle for Strait.

“When we wrote it, we let the story tell itself, and there wasn’t an effort at that time to really put George in a major role,” Christopher said. “I remember, George got a lot of movie offers after ‘Pure Country.’ And he turned them all down. He said, look, I dodged the bullet once, I’m happy, I’m not going to stand up there and get shot at again.”

Asked whether he leaned on his own career experiencing in writing the script, Dean said, “I’ve been around the country-music industry quite a bit, and seen a lot of that. So for me it wasn’t personal experiences I went through, but things that I watched a lot of friends and acquaintances of mine go through. It’s a very common story.”

After some fifteen years, the Cains took the script out of the drawer when Elam was brought to their attention. “If you’re doing a movie about a girl with a gift, who do you get?” Christopher asked. “And she came along. The rest is history.

“She popped up about six years ago, and we flew her into Aspen. Made her stand out on a street corner and sing for people and see if they liked her. No, we read her and she clearly had this big voice. She looked a little different then. I had her read with my wife, who’s an actress, and she had some natural instincts for acting. So it looked like this was something that could work. We didn’t wait six years for her to grow up, it just took that long to get the movie made, for the obvious reasons, because you don’t see these movies on the big screen much anymore—[movies that are] simple and story-driven…something that’s positive, that you walk out of with a smile on your face and a tear in your eye at the same time.”

“I never thought someone would call me, having had six years to prep,” Elam recalled with a laugh. “I just thought that they didn’t like me. It’s the longest callback ever. I had never thought about being an actress. It still kind of even cracks me up. But I thought, why not? I’m an adventurous person, so I’ll try it. And it was fun. It was very exciting. I was very nervous—Chris can tell you, I was pretty sick to my stomach the first couple of days. I couldn’t eat, I was so nervous. But he’s such a sweet man, after a while it became really fun. Chris made me feel really comfortable, and I just trusted him. That’s how I prepared.

“My favorite part would have to be working with King George. I grew up watching the first ‘Pure Country,’ and obviously loved George Strait. Just to meet him for the first time was incredible. And to get to do scenes with him and see what a sweetheart he is was really great.”

Christopher looked back on the shoot with affection, too. “On this movie, and the first one, I was happy to go to work every day,” he said. “On other movies, sometimes you just didn’t want to deal with some of the people you had to deal with. But I was happy to get up every morning and go to work and see what was going to develop during the day.”

Dean seconded that, and expanded on it. “Our whole family was involved in the making of the film,” he said, “and just having everybody there just felt pretty wonderful. I look over and see my sister and my mom, and hear my dad tell me to do something. We were all together, and you don’t get that often. To be able to see my family every day, and be able to interact and collaborate with them, that was pretty special.”