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Character Actor
Desmond Larochette Malcolm McDowell
Harriston Will Patton
Renny Jacobsen Chuck Carrington
Jo Johnston Hilarie Burton
Gus Eicholtz Pat Hingle
Daisy Stokes Mary Beth Peil
Harold Smithfield Nicholas Ryan
Mama A Elizabeth Omilami 
Al Jenkins Afemo Omilami
Bart Maxwell R. Keith Harris
Robert Roget Steve Ayers
Jerrod Weiss Richard Fullerton
Michael Flournoy Richard K. Olsen
Harold Smithfield Nicholas Pryor
Amos Candler Frank Hoyt Taylor
Thomas Layne Tim Ware

Directed by Gary Wheeler
Written by Michelle Hoppe, Johnston H. Moore, Gary Wheeler & Robert Whitlow


Independent filmmaker's "The List" released on DVD
By Phyllis Moore | August 4, 2008

    "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. 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.

Boone director's work makes DVD list
By Scott Nicholson
Watauga Democrat 7/29/08

    Boone filmmaker Gary Wheeler's "The List" is available on DVD and the writer-director is turning his attention to new projects. Wheeler, an Appalachian State University alumnus, filmed the movie on location in Wilmington, starring Malcolm McDowell, Hilarie Burton, Chuck Carrington, Pat Hingle and Will Patton. Its theatrical release was in August 2007. The script, co-written by Wheeler, was based on Robert Whitlow's best-selling novel and follows a spiritual story line. Renny Jacobson (Carrington) is stunned by his father's sudden death and the will that gives him the contents of a safe-deposit box with a "Covenant List." Actors Tim Ware and Hilarie Burton with Boone director Gary Wheeler at the Charlotte premiere of "The List" in 2007. Investigating the List, Jacobson and his new romantic interest Jo Johnston undercover the dark supernatural power behind the 140-year-old covenant. As Jacobson struggles with the lure of power, he draws on his faith to face the truth about the List. "It certainly turned out better than any of us imagined," Wheeler said.
    The film showed in 14 Southeastern cities and got a DVD distribution deal from Fox Home Entertainment. The DVD is available for sale and rental in local stores. The film broke the record for most ticket earnings for a weekend at the Ballantyne Theater in Charlotte, where it premiered. It earned $23,000 that weekend and went on to gross $140,000 over its theatrical run. The DVD market has already proven successful, with 350,000 rentals in the first three weeks of release. Wheeler has spent much of the year traveling to Los Angeles to negotiate the distribution deal and work on converting the movie from film to digital images, going over each frame to ensure quality. "The most exciting thing for me is we're reaching a new audience," Wheeler said. "All we want as independent film makers is a chance for a movie to reach its audience." Wheeler also parlayed the movie into another production deal and will be developing Whitlow's Christian legal thriller "The Trial" next year, with Burton and McDowell again attached. Wheeler said "The List" DVD had helped propel Whitlow's original novel back onto the Christian bestseller list, and the movie recently picked up "Best Drama" and "Best Screenplay" awards from International Christian Visual Media.

Boone-based producer's "labor of love" 
Written by Lauren K. Ohnesorge 8/1/07

Gary Wheeler is taking a trip down the red carpet Thursday- it's the premiere of his latest film, The List. Wheeler got his start right here in the High Country. Originally from Charlotte, Wheeler went to Appalachian State University in 1987. While ASU did not have a film program- he took broadcasting classes to get his hands on a camera. Get his hands on a camera he did - Wheeler made several films in college. While he claimed most of them were "bad," he obviously got better. Final Solution, a film shot in South Africa, won the Crystal Heart Award at Heartland Film Festival. Wheeler expects great things from his latest film, shot in Wilmington. It involves good people, a good cast and crew, he says. Those good people include Malcolm McDowell of A Clockwork Orange fame. It was truly a labor of love, Wheeler says of the piece he produced, co-wrote and directed. When not slating on set Wheeler relaxes in Boone with his wife, also an ASU graduate. Boone is an artistic place, a calming environment. It's hard to create art in a stressful place, Wheeler says.

So what is The List? 
Gary Wheeler 8/18/06

For starters, it is a faithful adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name. I first met Robert and Kathy Whitlow in 2003 and we shortly decided to work together to turn his first novel into a film. I could never have imagined how long, laborious, involved and rewarding the screenwriting process would be. How do you turn a 400 page novel with a very loyal following into a 100 minute movie? More importantly, how do you adapt it in such a way that everyone is happy with the result? For us, the answer was re-writing, re-writing, re-writing.
    In the Spring of 2004, we started with the elements we thought were important. The scenes from the book that stood out; the themes we wanted to get across; etc. Robert, Kathy and I worked with our fellow screenwriters Michelle Long and John Moore to come up with an outline. We then threw everything into the mix and came up with the 140 page epic version of the story. By this time it was late 2004. Next, we reworked the story; cut out some plot points; got rid of A LOT of dialogue and came up with a 116 page version that we sent to script consultant Linda Seger in January 2005. This is my third script that I’ve worked with Linda on and her notes are always helpful. She liked the basic story and particularly liked the character of Daisy. This really helped us to find our strengths and weaknesses and gave us confidence that we were on the right track. We wanted to tell a good story.
 So… from there we wrote and re-wrote. After about three new versions, we had the confidence to show it around. At this point, we felt pretty good about the script so I called my friend in Charlotte Bonnie Johnson and asked if she could put a table reading together for us. At the reading, Robert, Kathy and I listened and quickly realized that we had more work to be done. When we first heard the script read by actors so much of it seemed superfluous. Too much dialogue. Not enough showing instead of telling.
    Time to re-write again. For the next few months the Whitlow’s and I met on an almost weekly basis and continued to rework the story. What did we focus on? Dialogue; making it legitimately Southern; brush strokes to make the characters more believable; relationships; etc. Just before the end of the school year we did our second table reading in the theater department at my alma mater Appalachian State University. This time we knew we were closer. The reading went well. The actors liked the script and we had many helpful suggestions centering on deepening our character’s relationships.
    In June, we temporarily moved to Wilmington, North Carolina to get ready for a fall 2005 shoot. Well as is apt to happen in the independent film world, our funding slowed down and we waited almost six months (late October) for the funds to arrive. During that time, all I had to do was work on the script. My friend Timothy Sullivan is a script consultant in Wilmington and he made himself available to me anytime I needed to work on the script. We got together at the Atlanta Bread Company all the time and worked on the script. I’ll never forget the day that we went through the whole screenplay and cut everything that wasn’t necessary. There wasn’t a page that wasn’t marked completely red. The next day I implemented the changes and sent them to Robert. Now it was a tight 96 pages that Robert and I refined.
    Sometime in the fall, we decided to cast Chuck Carrington as Renny and he was included in the loop. Every new re-write we sent to him and his comments brought much depth to the film. In fact, his suggestions led to a scene that became one of both mine and Malcolm McDowell’s favorites. In December, we started scouting our locations and then those got incorporated into the film. The script was more location specific and the film was more rich. Just before Christmas, we cast Hilarie Burton as our female lead and she brought so much to script. Hearing her audition with the beach scene (chapter 7 in the book) we knew exactly how to deepen Jo Johnston.
    January 2006 - Tom Priestley comes on board and we begin making shot lists (about 80% of the scenes had shot lists) which tightened the script even further. Tom, myself, Hilarie and Chuck rehearsed three key scenes repeatedly and that help shape the script even further. Then auditions began and mid-January, after the film was mostly cast, we polished it one more time to incorporate specific ideas, character traits, etc. that came up during the audition process. But that’s not all. Just about every actor helped shape the film. I remember sitting in Malcolm’s trailer and going through all of his scenes with him. Cutting, pasting, refining. At the end of it all, I think that we’ve come up with a film that is faithful to book and artistically powerful in it’s own right.


Released 6/10/08

Making of

Gary Wheeler: Ultimately it's kind of a secret society story. It's about a group of Southerners during the Civil War who decide their Southern way of life should be preserved. So they all set up this secret society. Fast forward to modern times and this young lawyer found out his father died and has left him nothing, no inheritance whatsoever except for his share for his of the Covenant List.

Desmond: Welcome to the List boy



Premiere tickets SOLD OUT........but you may not be totally out of luck yet if you didn't get a ticket. Some of the blocks of tickets that organizations have reserved may open up at the last minute. Come support the cast & crew on August 2nd @ the Ballantyne Village Theater and you will have a chance to win the extra tickets, if any. We will give the tickets away early--so plan to line the red carpet at 6pm!


No word if Malcolm will be there.

The Red Carpet Premiere of The List is set for August 2nd at the Ballantyne Village Theater in Charlotte. Festivities begin at 6pm with prize giveaways including posters, DVDs, gift cards, tickets, and more. At 6:30 the stars will walk the red carpet to meet with fans and the media. Perhaps even more exciting, a special second showing of the film for fans will be held at 7:15pm...I have 25 tickets available for any MySpace users who want to come out and support the film! Tickets will be given out on a first come, first serve basis to those who message me through MySpace.



Desmond promo shot


"He's phenomenal. I describe him as electricity walking into the room." Hilarie Burton on Malcolm 10/06

Synopsis - Official

From the book

A sudden death tied to a list from the past leads to unimaginable evil. Fresh out of law school and full of hope for the future, Renny Jacobson is stunned by his father's sudden death - and then by the terms of the will: the elder Jacobson has left the bulk of his estate to charity. For his only son, he has left nothing more than the contents of a deposit box and interest in a company no one has heard of - the Covenant List of South Carolina, Ltd. When Renny encounters lovely Jo Johnston,  meets the members of "The List," and discovers the staggering value of his father's mysterious bequest, his hope is resurrected. But why is Jo, to whom he is deeply attracted, so reluctant for him to claim his rightful share? Renny feels the supernatural power of the 140-year-old covenant - feels it and wants it for himself. But when his life and Jo's begin to unravel, he is forced to face the truth about "The List." And nothing short of a miracle will save them from its grasp."

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