Music Heals War Wounds In New Movie OILDALE
An aspiring country singer and her young brother befriend three homeless veterans in "Oildale," a new independent motion picture about the unique challenges often faced by veterans, after they return home from war.
The film, directed by David Mueller and written by Lynn Salt, will have its world premiere in Bakersfield, California, on Saturday, March 30, with some of the proceeds benefiting the Wounded Heroes Fund and the FOX Theater Foundation.
Set in the Bakersfield suburb of Oildale, the film follows 18-year-old "Carlie" (Jessica Castello) and her 13-year-old brother "Pete" (Caleb Brown), who are left alone, after their grandfather (Phil Painter) moves into a rest home. Desperate for money, they take in an Iraq War veteran (Cyrus Zoghi) and two Vietnam veterans (Michael David Farrow and Sonny H. King) as boarders. When the veterans learn that Carlie dreams of being a singer, they encourage her to enter a singing competition at a local theater, and even write a song for her to perform. Standing in her way is another contestant, "Jessie Ann Jessup" (Kelsey Bohlen), who doesn't play by the rules.
"This is an old-fashioned story with a universally appealing message," Mueller said. "It is about family, friendship and how people in small towns tend to take care of each other."
Mueller and Salt, both Hollywood veterans with a long list of credits, previously collaborated on the multi-award-winning Native American documentary, "A Good Day to Die," and the SURFING film, "Beautiful Wave." They consider "Oildale" to be their most personal project yet.
"My father fought in World War II and the Korean War, and I always wanted to write a screenplay about veterans," Salt said. "David and I had been driving up to Bakersfield for years, to see Buck Owens perform at the Crystal Palace. We would often see veterans on the street, so that became the inspiration for the film."
Rick Davis, former executive director of the Kern County Film Commission, came out of retirement to co-produce the film.
"I fell in love with the script and how it so fits our community," he said. "It's a beautiful story about how big everybody's heart is in Bakersfield. I helped round up some of the best musicians in town, including John Herrell, who did studio work for Buck Owens for years."
Several songwriters contributed original music for the project. Country-roots recording artist Grant Maloy Smith gave filmmakers permission to use "I Come From America," a song from his 2017 Billboard-charting album "Dust Bowl - American Stories." He also has a supporting role as "Brady Cooper," a guitarist.
"The producers liked my song, because it celebrates the common people who made America," Smith said. "There is also a line in the song, about Bakersfield."
Other musicians and songwriters in "Oildale" include:
- Real-life veteran Evan Morgan, who sings his song "No Good News," which is part of the film's score.
- Brant Cotton, an actor known for "Wag the Dog," "Cold Case" and "Beverly Hills, 90210." He is also the lead singer of the country band Von Cotton. In "Oildale," he sings his song "See You on the Other Side" as the character "Clyde Fenton."
- Therese Muller, who sings her song "Face the Fear" as a contestant in the singing competition.
- Will Branch, who sings his song "You" on stage. He also wrote the hero's song, and main theme of the movie, "Fog of War."
Despite its modest budget, "Oildale" has the look and feel of a much bigger movie, thanks to support from the Bakersfield community and help from many volunteers, including many Hollywood professionals who donated their time. In keeping with their grassroots business model, the filmmakers are planning an 18-month "Heartland Tour" to screen the film in all 50 states. They are currently seeking veterans and community groups with which to partner, to screen the movie and split ticket sales.
"Military men and women have sacrificed so much for this country, and many have come home carrying memories of their friends who died," Salt said. "There are twenty-two suicides by veterans every day. Our veterans cannot heal until their fellow Americans help them."
Salt has worked in the motion picture industry for more than 25 years as a writer, producer and director. She has written more than 20 screenplays, four of which have been optioned by A-list producers. A Choctaw (American Indian), Salt was a member of the American Indian Registry for the Performing Arts (AIRPA) in Los Angeles. She produced and co-directed "A Good Day to Die" (2010 Kino Lorber) and co-wrote and co-produced the dramatic feature "Beautiful Wave" (2011 Starz/ Anchor Bay), starring Aimee Teegarden, Patricia Richardson, Lance Henriksen and Helen Slater.
Mueller is an award-winning director, producer and writer, who began his directorial career with Universal Pictures on "New York Undercover" (Fox) and "The Wright Verdicts" (CBS), directing second unit ACTION sequences on the streets of New York. He has directed, written and produced dozens of documentaries, national commercials and feature films. He co-produced "Dalai Lama Renaissance" (2007 Horizon), which was narrated by Harrison Ford and won 12 Best Documentary awards. He also produced and co-directed "A Good Day to Die" (2010 Kino Lorber) with Dennis Banks, winner of six Best Documentary awards, and directed "Beautiful Wave" (2011 Starz/Anchor Bay) starring Aimee Teegarden, Patricia Richardson, Lance Henriksen and Helen Slater.
The world premiere of "Oildale" will take place at the FOX Theater, 2001 H Street, Bakersfield, CA 93301, on Saturday, March 30, at 7:00 p.m., with red carpet arrivals beginning at 6:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling the FOX Theater box office at 661-324-1369 or by visiting http://www.ticketfly.com/event/1818886/.
Information about "Oildale" is available at www.OildaleTheMovie.com.