MERIDIAN – A former missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who back in 1998 was kidnapped, beaten and tortured for a week, is now sharing his story on the big screen in a new movie called “The Saratov Approach”.
The former missionary now lives in Meridian and sat down with KTVB to share what happened 15 years ago.
In 1998, the story about Travis Tuttle and Andy Propst made international headlines.
Propst, who is now owns a property management company in Meridian, says feels indebted to his captors.
For a man who felt that time and time again, death was just moments away, Propst looks back on the week in March of 1998 in an unexpected way.
"I feel almost in debt to the kidnappers, for the life changing moment that they provided," said Andy Propst.
Propst and Tuttle were doing their normal everyday missionary duties when they were invited to share their message at someone's home.
"Never had I ever been approached by a Russian to ask me to come over to their house, so that took me off guard, and I just had a gut, uneasy feeling about it," said Propst.
However, he doesn't regret going, even now, with hindsight. Once inside the home, his life changed forever.
As is custom in Russian homes, Propst and Tuttle, bent down to take off their shoes.
"Between shoe number one and shoe number two, I just got whacked in the back of the head, no idea where it came from. Scared the living heck out of me," said Propst.
For nearly a week, Propst and Tuttle were beaten and threatened, guns to their heads, firmly believing that their lives were going to end.
The movie takes us back to those moments in 1998, and it's a movie writer and director Garrett Batty wanted to do right.
"Anytime that we wanted to say, 'Okay, what would make this the most interesting thing? Or how could we make this more compelling?' We always reverted back to the truth," said Batty.
It's that truth that drives the movie. It's about real human emotion.
"When people are in desperate times they do desperate things, and these guys were in a bad spot," said Propst. "I don't have a bitter bone in my body about it, honestly.”
Despite being hesitant about doing the movie because of how personal what happened is, Propst says he's pleased with the movie, and called Batty a few weeks ago to tell him.
"You did it,” said Propst with tears in his eyes. “You did it man, you did it. You changed my life, and I'm inspired again by this story.”
The movie premiered in Utah two weeks ago and is doing really well. It's playing on only 23 screens and has made $500,000, making it one of the highest grossing movies, per screen, in the country.
Friday it opens at the Edwards Theater in Boise at South Cole Road and West Overland Road and in Nampa at the Edwards off Karcher Road.
It also opens in Eastern Idaho; Las Vegas, Nevada; Mesa, Arizona; and California.
The plan is to take it nationwide in December.
Also in the movie is a face many KTVB viewers will recognize. Dale Dixon, the current CEO of the Better Business Bureau and former KTVB anchor.
He plays a news anchor reporting on the kidnapping.
It's Dixon's first time appearing in a movie.