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Texas film crew heads home

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
May 14, 2002
A group of aspiring young filmmakers from Austin, Texas, left Meridian on Monday with more than two hours of digital video, pads full of notes and heads full of ideas.
Five editors and writers of "Distant Son," about a famine-relief tour Jimmie Rodgers and Will Rogers sponsored in 1931, were in Meridian the past week to shoot film, visit landmarks and enjoy the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Festival.
Andrew Leranth, the film's executive producer and president of Austin Signal Corps Production, said Jimmie Rodgers and Will Rogers helped feed millions during the 1930s famine.
In the end, the group, all under the age of 35, said they hope to have a 90- to 120-minute feature-length documentary ready to show in theaters around the world later this year.
During their stay in Meridian, the filmmakers attended the festival's nightly concerts. They also attended gatherings of The International Singing Brakeman Association and interviewed people about Rodgers' legacy.
Leranth said he and his fellow filmmakers are excited to return to Austin so they can look over the information and video they gathered last week and continue working on the film.
The more than two hours of footage the group shot while in Meridian will be available within the next few weeks on the film's Web site at
Nevie Owens, co-producer and editor of the film, said the group found a lot of people who didn't know about the 1931 famine tour.
Leranth said once the group has secured $1.5 million in necessary funding to complete the film, they will return to Meridian to shoot more footage and interview more people.