The Reel Legacy (DVD)
The History of Filmmaker Judge Whitaker and the BYU Motion Picture Studio(edit)
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A phenomenal illustration of the LDS Church's pioneering efforts in film.
About the film:
“A Reel Legacy” is an award-winning documentary that unveils the true story of Walt Disney's head animator Wetzel (Judge) O. Whitaker, who left a very lucrative career at Walt Disney Studios in the 1950’s, to come to Utah to start a film studio for the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and to pioneer a film program at Brigham Young University.
For the first time ever on camera, veteran filmmakers who knew and worked with Judge, sit down and talk about his life, his trials, and the challenges he faced - with no film crews or sufficient funding, to building a state-of-the-art Hollywood style studio in the 1950’s.
Featured LDS filmmaker interviews include: TC Christensen (director of Ephraim’s Rescue and 17 Miracles), Reed Smoot (cinematographer of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Homeward Bound, The Work and The Glory 2, and Academy Award Winner: The Great American Cowboy), Karl Wesson (Emmy Award winning make-up artist of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Santa Clause 3, Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, and Dumb and Dumber), Peter G. Czerny (film editor of John Baker’s Last Race, Cipher in the Snow, Uncle Ben, and The Gift), Peter Johnson (director of How Rare A Possession, A More Perfect Union, Mountain of the Lord, and Walt Disney’s The Witching of Ben Wagner), David K. Jacobs (director of The First Vision), Scott Swofford (director/producer of The Work and the Glory films), and many more…
“A Reel Legacy” will transport you back in time, as we journey from the Walt Disney Studios to Provo Utah. This special documentary features over 15 filmmakers, as well as dozens of rare and never-before-seen images, released by family members and friends. This film is a true tale of faith, toil, sacrifice, and humility, and will not only inspire the LDS (Mormon) community, but others who share Christian values and beliefs, who seek to be uplifted and inspired - as was Judge s mission as a father, husband, friend, and filmmaker.
For those looking for an authentic, real glimpse into what independent filmmaking was like back in the 1950’s, this documentary offers insights into LDS Church s untold and sensibly unique film-making history from the filmmakers point of view, and the inner workings of studio. Unlike LDS special topic videos or books written by experts, historians, teachers, or professors, this documentary allows viewers to see and feel the Spirit of what really happened, from the original filmmakers who were there in the beginning as the LDS Church grew into using film to spread the gospel of Christ and to train church leadership and members in the 1950’s.
About the Director:
Tom Laughlin moved to Utah from Kansas in 2001 and attended Utah Valley University, where he studied screenwriting and producing. After graduation, Tom produced international training media for Gartner Productions in Salt Lake City, and later produced and edited educational documentaries for the School Improvement Network - started by former LDS Church film producer John Linton. It was during Tom's collaboration and travel with John, hearing John's stories about the "old glory days of filmmaking" while working at the BYU Motion Picture Studio in the 1970s, which influenced the making of documentary "A Reel Legacy", a historical preservation of Judge Whitaker and the BYU Motion Picture Studio. Tom currently works as a freelance producer/editor and lives in Layton with his wife Sara and their busy four children. He has written over 15 feature film screenplays, has several projects in development and seeking funding, and recently received a Bronze Telly Award for his post-production and documentary series work.
2013 "Best of State" - Utah - Documentary
2012 Aurora Awards: Best of Show – Platinum Award – Documentary Editing
2012 Aurora Awards: Golden Award – Directing
2012 Aurora Awards: Golden Award – Documentary
*Official Selections & Honorary Screenings:
2013 LDS Film Festival – Feature Documentary
2012 Mormon Media Symposium – Feature Documentary
- Region: All Regions
About the Author
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