08/04/08 — Independent filmmaker's "The List" released on DVD

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Independent filmmaker's "The List" released on DVD

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 4, 2008 1:43 PM

"The List," a North Carolina-based film released on a limited basis last November, is now out on DVD.

Filmmaker Gary Wheeler lives in Boone but has Goldsboro ties -- his wife and business partner is the former Jodie Sutton of Goldsboro. Father-in-law Allen Sutton, former personnel director at Wayne Memorial Hospital, has a small role in the movie's opening scene.

The movie was based on the book of the same name by Charlotte attorney Robert Whitlow. It stars Malcolm McDowell, Will Patton and Pat Hingle, as well as Chuck Carrington, who played Petty Officer Tiner on TV's "JAG" for seven years, and Hilarie Burton, currently appearing on "One Tree Hill."

It's been "really cool" to see the project released nationwide, said Wheeler, director, writer and producer.

"I think what every independent filmmaker wants, it's like a parent with a child," he said. "You want them to grow up and be productive citizens and to do great things. That's what you want with your movie."

When the movie first came out in November 2007, it only played in about 50 markets. Because of Wheeler's Goldsboro connection, Premiere Theaters was among the first 20 cities to screen the film.

He was fortunate to receive several offers from studios to release it on DVD, opting to go with 20th Century Fox.

"We just felt like 20th Century Fox was a great partner," he said. "When the film division made us an offer, they had a specific release day, around Father's Day. At that point, it was all systems go."

The DVD can currently be found in video stores, as well as such locations as Sam's Club, Wal-mart, Target and Christian bookstores, Wheeler said.

"To have the opportunity to be out there and in the marketplace, most independent filmmakers never get that shot," he said. "A lot of them don't even make it to the shelves. Getting it on the shelf means that it's got a chance."

It seems to be doing well, Wheeler said -- in the first three weeks, 350,000 rentals were reported across the country.

"The cool thing, apart from that it's out there now, is we have started to get stories back from people that the movie has made an impact," he said. "What I'm finding is that we seem to be doing really well with the people that really want to just see a good movie."

While certainly the fact that there is a spiritual theme and a Christian element is "the cherry on top," Wheeler said it's rewarding to be able to offer a wholesome family movie.

For now, he said he's pleased that the film is being seen.

"It's getting its chance. It's on the shelves with every other movie out there," he said. "At least it has a chance to find its audience and that's all we can ask for."

The movie also received recognition at a national Christian competition, The Crown Awards, held in July in Florida.

"We were nominated for best picture, best drama under $250,000 budget and best screenplay. We won for all three," Wheeler said. "We were there and excited. It was doubly exciting to win."

Up next, Wheeler is working toward his next two movies, both based on Whitlow books. He is currently in the screenwriting phase for "The Trial," with plans to begin filming next year, followed by "The Sacrifice" the year after that.