“Treasure Valley,” a western about a man who rebuilds his life after a fire destroys his family, was being filmed where Mr. Pickett grew up and had many connections, Mr. Mills said. During car rides through the valley to find places to film, Mr. Mills recalled, Mr. Pickett would make comments such as “That’s where my brother lived” and “That’s where I went to elementary school.”
Jan Larison, Mr. Pickett’s younger sister, said, “His passion was to come back and make films about the lives he was raised around.”
Jay Harris Pickett, the fourth of five children, was born on Feb. 10, 1961, in Spokane, Wash., to E. Richard Pickett, a cattle broker, and Virginia Pickett, who worked in agriculture for the federal government.
The Pickett family moved about 400 miles south, to Caldwell, Idaho, where Jay was raised, Ms. Larison said. He graduated from Vallivue High School in 1980 and attended Treasure Valley Community College, where he played football and met the woman he would marry, Elena Bates.
After community college, he attended Boise State University, where he continued to play football, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in theater arts, his sister said. Then, he went to the University of California, Los Angeles, where he earned a master’s degree, also in theater.