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Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Film will feature historic sites in Iowa and Illinois From page 2 Hawleys also, to watch Earlene’s story come to life in a movie format,” said Tammy Rundle. “There is something stunning about seeing 50 actors dressed in period costume take their places in beautiful historic sites from the 1800s. You immediately feel transported in time.” Kelly Rundle describes it as a “fairly complex story about the beginning of the end of slavery in America. What happened at the seminary is an obscure but important turning point in American history.” In 1834, the controversial debates, led by abolitionist and firebrand Theodore Weld (played by actor Thomas Alan Taylor), were the first to publicly discuss the end of slavery in America. The meetings angered Cincinnati residents and Lane Seminary officials, who promptly slapped a gag order on the entire student body. This action was followed by a freedom of speech protest and mass exodus of Lane students to Oberlin College. A young Harriet Beecher (played by acclaimed stage actress Jess Denney) was exposed to the debates and Weld’s work to free the slaves, sparking a flame that led her to write “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Shooting at the Beecher house was an incredible experience, Kelly acknowledged. “We were standing there in Lyman Beecher’s office with Janos Horvath who plays Beecher and Taylor who plays Weld, right where those people actually stood 180 years ago.

Earlene Hawley, left, wrote the play the movie is based on, and husband Kent has a co-producer’s credit on the film. It was surreal. These were people of faith disagreeing about this issue, and the reaction in the city was close to mob violence.” The film also will feature historic sites in Iowa, Illinois and Connecticut. The most recent debate scenes shot in the historic Jenny Lind Chapel in Andover, Ill., featured nearly 40 extras, including Renee Roiseland of Waverly. “I had a wonderful time participating in the making of the film. The cast and crew were phenomenal to work with,” said Roiseland. Hawley’s script underwent some changes, in

particular making young Harriet Beecher the main female character rather than her sister Catherine, an author and teacher who also influenced Harriet. In addition, the Rundles added a prologue and epilogue featuring Frederick Douglass’ famous Fourth of July speech from the 1850s. “Thematically it’s beautifully connected to our story. When we showed the first draft to Earlene, she told us that she first s t a r te d h e r r e s e a r c h for a play on Frederick Douglass. She gave up on the Douglass idea, but that research led her to the Lane Rebels story,” Kelly

Emmy-nominated filmmakers Tammy and Kelly Rundle of Fourth Wall Films plan to release their docudrama in 2015. Rundle explained. The Rundles are wellknown for making documentaries, including “Villisca: Living with a Mystery,” “Lost

Nation: The Ioway” and t h e E m my- n o m i n a te d “Country School: One Room – One Nation.” Making a docudrama represents a departure for

Fourth Wall Films. “We’ve gone from two people used to working by themselves to 60 cast and crew members. We made the decision to go in this direction because the story had already been dramatized. I’m continually impressed by Earline’s work,” Kelly said. P r i n c i p a l p h o to g ra phy continues through July. The film is slated for release in 2015 and will screen in independent theaters and film festivals. It will be released nationally on DVD, with broadcasts on PBS stations to follow. Tentatively film premieres are planned in the Quad Cities and Cincinnati.

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