News Column

'23 Blast' to be shown in theaters

May 30, 2014

By Jeff Noble, The Times-Tribune, Corbin, Ky.

May 30--Since the full-length feature movie "23 Blast" was previewed last September in Corbin, many people who saw the film -- or missed the "sneak peek" -- have asked when it will be shown again.

That answer is here.

It will be shown on Friday, Oct. 3, in 600 theaters nationwide.

The independent film -- loosely based on the life of former Corbin High School Redhound football player Travis Freeman -- will be distributed by Ocean Avenue Entertainment, in association with Toy Gun Films.

The announcement was released Tuesday in the online edition of Variety, an entertainment-trade publication.

In an article written in Los Angeles by film reporter Dave McNary, he called the movie, "An inspirational sports drama."

So far, there's been no word on where the movie will be shown. It's expected more information on that will become available as the Oct. 3 show date gets closer.

The man the movie is centered around said Thursday some "minor tweaking" has been done, as it prepares for a fall showing.

"They added some music to the movie, made some minor technical adjustments to it, but aside from that, the movie's still pretty much the same as it was when it was seen here in September of last year," Freeman said.

"23 Blast" was filmed entirely on location in Corbin in March and April 2012.

The movie is co-produced by Dylan Baker, Gary Donatelli and Toni Hoover.

Baker, an actor, director and producer who recently appeared in the 2013 comedy film "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," played Freddie Shapp, who represented the 24-hour news network, GNN.

Donatelli has directed several daytime television dramas, including the soap opera "One Life To Live." "23 Blast" marks his debut as a film producer.

Toni Hoover co-wrote the screenplay for the movie with her son, Bram. He plays Jerry Baker, one of the main characters in the film. Toni's husband and Bram's dad, Vin Hoover, played football and coached in Corbin.

Getting a distributor for "23 Blast" was a big coup for the movie's producers, who will now be able to get audiences across the country to see the film in October.

And that's the job Ocean Avenue Entertainment will be doing as those days get closer.

The company is based in Carmel, Calif., and has key relationships with major studios and smaller distributors looking for a target audience.

According to their Facebook page, Ocean Avenue Entertainment develops, produces and distributes films and television programs that are "engaging and redemptive," and target an "audience looking for inspiration and entertainment."

They also develop and produce stories for general and "faith-based" audiences.

"23 Blast" has received a PG-13 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America.

The movie's executive producers include Brent Ryan Green, Daniel Snyder and Misook Doolittle.

Green is a director/producer who runs Toy Gun Films, an independent production company based in Oklahoma City, Okla.

The company is also working with Ocean Avenue Entertainment on distributing the movie, which Toy Gun Films calls "a family-friendly drama."

Snyder is owner of the Washington Redskins professional football team in the National Football League.

Doolittle is a philanthropist, and was founder and president of Exclusively Misook, Inc., a designer and marketer of upscale women's knit products. That company is now a subsidiary of W Diamond Group Corporation, a clothing company based in New York City.

Along with Bram Hoover, "23 Blast" stars Mark Hapka as Travis Freeman, Dylan Baker as Travis' dad, Larry Freeman; his wife Becky Ann Baker as Travis' physical therapist, Patty Wheatley; Max Adler as Cameron Marshall; Alexa Vega as Ashley; Stephen Lang as Coach Farris; Timothy Busfield as Duncan; Kim Zimmer as Travis' mom, Mary Freeman; and Fred Dalton Thompson as Coach Powers.

The movie tells the story of Travis Freeman, who played football growing up until he was stricken with a severe sinus infection which resulted from bacterial meningitis.

The ailment destroyed his optic nerve and left him blind. He had to decide whether to live a safe life at home, or return to his former life and his love of football.

Freeman persevered through the perils, and returned to compete on the gridiron, coming back to the front line as a starter for Corbin High School from 1996 to 1999.

In the Variety announcement, Freeman noted, "This movie is so much bigger than me. It represents the gift of a community coming together to help its own, and how faith manifests itself in many ways in the face of a tragedy; such as in hope, love and personal courage."

The film's producers gave Corbin and the region a treat on a Thursday evening, Sept. 19, when they had a "sneak peek" of "23 Blast" for free at the Tri-County Cineplex. All eight screens at the cineplex showed the movie, in order to accommodate the crowd of over 1,400.

Every seat was filled.

A little over a month later, the movie was shown at the 22nd annual Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis, Ind.

In competition with 134 other independent films from 76 countries, "23 Blast" won the festival's Audience Choice Award for Narrative Feature.

Since that time, Freeman says the success and attention the film has gotten hasn't changed him, and feels the message the movie gives is true to its new phrase -- "Vision Comes From Within."

"Have I changed? I don't think so. I want people to see my story on overcoming obstacles and impacting people's lives. We're really excited about it, we have people excited about seeing it, and we hope they'll come out and watch the movie," he pointed out.


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Source: Times-Tribune (Corbin, KY)

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