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Taft Midway Driller - Taft, CA
  • Redemption: Former Taftian's film hits theaters

  • Bill Nelson's prodouction, based on actual events, is being pitched for national release

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  • A Bakersfield film production company managed by former Taftian Bill Nelson has secured limited theatrical and national broadcast and DVD release of a feature film about a grave robber who is captured and exiled to an island in the Great Salt Lake.
    “Redemption – For Robbing the Dead” was released earlier this month at selected theaters in Utah, where the period film was shot.
    Monterey Media Inc. has acquired nationwide broadcast and DVD rights to the film.
    “We hope it will be nationally released,” Nelson said, “I expect it will be pitched to HBO or Showtime.”
    Nelson and his Firstlight Independent LLC oversaw the entire production.  He’s executive producer but had a hand in virtually every element of the project.
    “To consider that we took an idea and followed it all the way through and then to see the quality of the finished product was just an exhilarating experience,” he said.  “It was great fun.  People were just so full of energy.  Everybody was just a joy to work with.”
    He got to work with a cast that included film and television veterans like Margot Kidder  (Lois Lane in both Superman movies), Barry Corbin “No Country for Old Men” and television series like “Northern Exposure”), Emmy-award winning Ed Hermann (FDR in made-for-television movies and Herman Munster in “Here Come the Munsters”), Rance Howard (father of Ron Howard), Larry Thomas (the Soup Nazi of “Seinfeld” fame), and Jon Gries (“Napoleon Dynamite”).
    “They all were very professional, “ Nelson said.  “They really brought their A-game.  They gave marvelous performances, and when they saw it they were blown away.  They were just floored by the production.”
    Nelson credited his new RED digital camera with producing a cinematic quality that has drawn rave reviews.
    “I really didn’t realize how good it was until I saw the finished product at the premiere,” he said.  “It shoots 4,000 pixels per second.  I was astonished at how it pulled it off.”
    “Redemption” is a western set in 1860s frontier Utah and weaves a tale of conflict and compassion based on actual events.
    After a grieving lawman – played by John Freeman – buries his young daughter, he discovers that a strange immigrant has been robbing the dead in their graves.  Torn between his grief and anger and his sworn duty to protect the grave robber from a hostile community, he discovers a measure of peace.
    Freeman plays Henry Heath, whose great grandson visited the set during filming.
    The film gave Nelson the opportunity to collaborate again with Slamdance award winning screenwriter Tom Russell, who also directed “Redemption.”
    Nelson hired Russell “right out of college” to work for him at Bill Nelson Media Group doing video production work in Bakersfield.
    After Russell moved to Utah to teach film, Nelson wanted to work with his former employee again.  The two had collaborated on two other independent film projects (“Mental” and “mr. dungbeetle”) with Russell writing and Nelson acting in the lead role.  
    Page 2 of 2 - Russell’s story about a Utah grave robber provided the spark for the reunion.
    “This feature is the culmination of that effort,” he said.  “We’re gratified that we found distributors who share our enthusiasm for the film.”
    The 1971 Taft High graduate credits his education here with providing the foundation for success.
    “My education in Fellows (Midway School) and Taft prepared me to do this,” he said.  “It was at Taft High and Taft College that I learned things like visual composition.  That background and training is what led me into this profession.
    Nelson was able to serve as a teacher and mentor on the movie set.
    Students and graduates of the media arts department at Brigham Young University worked on the film too.
    “We literally couldn’t have done it without them,” Nelson said.  “They were incredibly enthusiastic and capable.”
    After the 28-day location shoot, post-production was done at the LDS Motion Picture Studio in Provo.
    A half-hour documentary about the making of “Redemption” is in the works, Nelson said.
    Watch the trailer at  HYPERLINK "http://www.forrobbingthedead.com" www.forrobbingthedead.com.  For more details, check out the film’s Facebook page at  HYPERLINK "http://facebook.com/RedemptionTheMovie" http://facebook.com/

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