The Journey & The Filmmakers
The arduous, long, significant journey to find and tell the truth about Ruby McCollum and create the Documentary You Belong To Me began in 2001. After a casual lunch meeting between producer Jude Hagin and University of Florida English Professor, Dr. James Haskins, Jude's life would take a very different course than one she ever imagined.
Dr. Haskins wrote The Cotton Club and Mr. Bojangles: The Biography of Bill Robinson, on which the famous films were based. He also wrote books about Stevie Wonder, Pele, Scott Joplin, Lena Horn and Martin Luther King, Jr. amongst others. Jude and Dr. Haskins met often to discuss local politics, civil rights, women’s rights and film production.
On that afternoon in 2001, after lunch, he asked Jude to read Ruby McCollum, Woman in the Suwannee Jail written by renowned writer William Bradford Huie, (who also penned The Execution of Private Slovik, The Americanization of Emily, and The Klansman). Jude read the book in one sitting. She immediately knew the questions she had after devouring the book which had to be answered to her satisfaction. The facts told in that book just didn’t make sense to her.
She spoke with Dr. Haskins hoping he would answer her questions, and he told her she must go find out the answers herself and should make a film about Ruby McCollum. Jude reminded him she was white, and therefore probably not the right person for the job. He told her that was precisely WHY she was the right person! Little did she know that what she thought would be an easy journey, would take many years to accomplish.
Immediately securing an option on the Huie book with the help of Ocala Film Commission President, Kitty Potapow, Jude set out to make a feature film based on the book. She went through several drafts of scripts working with different writers. It was no easy task to tell the complicated story of Ruby McCollum, and they were not the first to try. At least three other producers had tried unsuccessfully to make a feature film out of the book.
The initial difficulty lay in the resistance of making a “Black" film. Apparently these films did not sell well in the United States nor overseas and there was no market for them. This excuse became over shadowed with such successful films as Precious, The Help, 42, Django Unchained, The Butler and 12 Years a Slave proving there IS a large audience for films about important and historical African American stories.
Producers Hilary Saltzman and Jude Hagin met in 2007, while developing the feature film version of the Ruby McCollum story. During this time, Hilary introduced film investor Marc LeBel to the project who financed the full purchase of the Huie book. After getting the screenplay in hand and all the years of research, Jude and Hilary agreed it would take a documentary to tell the truth in detail. Developing the documentary began in the earnest in 2009 when new information was discovered after locating family members willing to speak on camera about the events of 1952.
In 2012, knowing the difficulty Hilary and Jude had raising funds for the project and because of their continued research, passion and dedication to get the story told and swept out from under the veils of secrecy that had over the years descended on it, Kitty Potapow made a decision. She wanted them to focus solely on the documentary, and she agreed generously to fund it, the search to find the writer and director began...
Hilary knew of a documentary film maker she respected highly and who had a stellar background in that business. Hilary had grown up in the film world and had met Writer and Director John Cork when he interviewed her for a piece about her father Harry Saltzman, an acclaimed film Producer who produced the first nine James Bond films.
In 2011, Hilary suggested to Jude that they speak with John to get a handle on how to budget and set up for a documentary. John, from Alabama originally, was quickly intrigued with the story. He started reading and researching and even visited Live Oak where Jude met with him for the first time in 2012. By the time Kitty made her decision to fund the documentary, Jude and Hilary had made their decision. They needed to look no further for a writer and director having found in John Cork the same shared passion and dedication to finding and telling the truth about Ruby McCollum and the incredibly complex and difficult tale.
Along with John's producer, Lisa van Eyssen, Jude knew she and Hilary now had a solid team to work together to keep researching, uncovering and discovering even more layers to the story. Together, they realized the extent of the veil of secrecy and silence that had been pulled tight over the hidden truths of what had happened in the South, in Florida, in 1952.
Due to the team's consistent dedication to the project, family members and others associated with the story started to trust them. So many are still in fear of telling their truth about this time in history, and there were those who spoke with the team in secret sharing their stories. Finally the team started gathering these tales on film and after close to two years and 39 interviews with extraordinarily courageous and generous interviewees, You Belong To Me came to fruition.
Though the film can't contain all that was shared with us about that terrible time in American history much more will be shared through our website. The team from You Belong To Me is also planning to travel and speak to audiences in Universities, schools, Festivals and at community screenings about their journey which continues to this day...
JUDE HAGIN - PRODUCER
Producer, Jude Hagin served as the Ocala/Marion County Film Commissioner from 1995 to 2009 focusing on bringing commercials, print shoots and feature films into the North Central Florida region.
She successfully brought four feature films and numerous national commercials to the area. Jude worked on Jeepers Creepers with Francis Ford Coppola; The Hawk is Dying, starring Paul Giamatti; Nobody's Children starring Jeremy Sisto and Jamie Pressley; and Lonely Hearts starring John Travolta, Jared Leto and Salma Hayek .
Jude also worked with John Travolta on two Italian commercials, along with numerous national commercials. Jude produced You Belong To Me and has been developing and producing the upcoming feature film Ruby McCollum.
HILARY SALTZMAN - PRODUCER
Hilary is an established producer and writer, born in London, England - raised in the motion picture industry and growing up on film sets and locations all over the world due to her father Harry Saltzman being the producer of the first nine James Bond films starring Sean Connery and Roger Moore. She worked with her father in film development on his pictures Nijinsky and Time of the Gypsies (nominated for the prestigious Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or Award and winning Best Director), and in theatre production at H.M. Tennent at the Globe Theater in London, England including Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf starring Maggie Smith.
Hilary wrote and produced the very successful VUE Sur BOND event in Quebec, a celebration commemorating her father’s film legacy along with the James Bond films as an international benefit for UNICEF. She also wrote and produced Hippike an equine stage show for the CNE. Most recently, Hilary is participating in the documentary Everything or Nothing celebrating the 50th anniversary of James Bond and is currently producing the Documentary film You Belong To Me, the feature film Ruby McCollum and the animated 3D feature film, Bipolar.
Hilary’s major interest is in developing projects that will have high entertainment value, but most importantly will inspire, teach and create positive thought worldwide. Her credo is MEDIA THAT MATTERS.
KITTY POTAPOW -EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Kitty Potapow is a Floridian philanthropist based in Ocala, FL. She was Chairman of the Board of the Miss Florida Scholarship Pageant, a member of the Board of Directors of Pop Warner Belleview Panthers Football & Cheerleading, and the President of the Film Commission of Real Florida, Inc. She has championed this project along with Jude Hagin from the beginning and was instrumental in securing the rights to the William Bradford Huie book: Woman in Suwannee County Jail. She is a dedicated unwavering supporter of the Arts in both theater and film.
JOHN CORK - WRITER/DIRECTOR
As the creative force behind well over 100 documentary shorts and two feature-length documentaries, Carmen Miranda: That Girl from Rio and Murnau, Borzage and Fox (co-directed with Lisa van Eyssen), John Cork's experience at writing, direction, and producing non-fiction film is extensive. After graduating from the USC School of Cinema in 1988, Cork first entered the feature film world, penning the script to 1989's acclaimed Civil Rights drama, The Long Walk Home. Having worked for most of the major Hollywood studios as a screenwriter, Cork moved full-time to documentaries in 1999, forming Cloverland, a full-service production company. Aside from running the company and guiding each of its productions to completion, Cork has also co-authored three books for the James Bond film producers: James Bond: The Legacy, Bond Girls Are Forever, and The James Bond Encyclopedia. Cork has consulted on numerous other projects, designed content for interactive games and the web. He lives in Carmel, California.
LISA VAN EYSSEN - PRODUCER FORCLOVERLAND
Over the last twelve years, Lisa Van Eyssen has built a strong background in non-fiction film. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Lisa spent a decade in England, studying and working in theater and film before returning to Hollywood in 1998. While at Van Ness Films & Prometheus Entertainment, Van Eyssen produced a wide range of projects for The History Channel and AMC, as well as writing and producing biographies for A&E, including Making It After All: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Paul Newman: Hollywood's Charming Rebel, Harrison Ford: The Reluctant Hero, and Elizabeth Taylor: Facets. She co-produced the three hour specialUltimate Super Heroes for BRAVO and went on to produce the HBO First Look of Sam Mendes' film Jarhead. After working with Leva Filmworks, Van Eyssen joined Cloverland in 2006, and since has served as a producer, writer, and director on over 50 projects.
BRAD GROSSMAN - EDITOR
Brad Grossman is a native Los Angeleno, graduate of the infamous Buckley School and magna cum laude graduate of the prestigious UCLA Film School. His first cinematic effort was at age 13, winning first prize in a Los Angeles County Equal Rights in Housing video competition. At UCLA, his senior thesis film Rest in Peace was selected for the Panavision Young Filmmakers Program.
After graduation, Brad started as an assistant editor on The Crusaders - a weekly, one hour syndicated newsmagazine show featuring journalist/Olympic swimmer Diana Nyad and Emmy award-winning journalist William LaJeunesse. Within weeks, Brad was promoted to full-fledged editor.
Since then, Brad's career has gone from DVD bonus material documentaries (James Bond, Hitchcock, All About Eve) to reality television (Naked and Afraid) to feature documentaries (Hollywood Hair, You Belong To Me) and back again.
GEOFF GALLEGOS (AKA DOUBLE G) - COMPOSER
A charismatic composer/conductor with the skillset of a modern producer. Based in Los Angeles, he is the co-founder and musical director of the 70-piece daKAH Hip Hop Orchestra. Since 1999, this ensemble has been successfully translating hip hop into a symphonic experience. In addition to daKAH, he leads a nine-piece jazz group called NineNet, a jazz big band, a string quartet, a chamber orchestra, a jazz sextet and co-leads a chamber string octet.
Musicians in these times are often required to safely navigate the waters of the commercial music industry and the fine arts world. GG is one of these hybrid artists. In addition to winning grant awards and honoring composition commissions, he has conducted & arranged for live concert hall performances, recording sessions, film scores, TV awards shows, live theater and dance shows.
He first came to music through public school music education, starting on the saxophone, and then moving into composition and percussion. Awarded a scholarship to study at Berkley College of Music, he graduated with a Jazz Composition degree, and hit the road across North America and Europe. When not touring, he apprenticed with a symphony Maestro by day, and jammed on the sax with hip hop DJs at night.
After a short time, GG gained attention as a unique and capable arranger, and started getting hired for recording sessions. Initially getting work as an arranger & saxophonist, he moved into symphonic orchestration, conducting, and eventually producing recordings of his own.
His work attracted the attention of documentary filmmaker Christine Lee, and he became the subject of the award-winning film Hip Hop Maestro, which followed the journey of his ensemble from the street to symphony hall. He was also a featured artist in the documentary film Icons Among US.
He has a long and fruitful association with the L.A. presenting organization Grand Performances. He was also a resident artist at Stanford University and Montalvo Arts Center, and has appeared on the Conan Show & The Tonight Show.
His diverse approach to music has put him the company of many different types of musicians. He has recorded with many artists over the years, most notably George Clinton, Trent Reznor, Aloe Blacc, T-Bone Burnett, John Frusciante, India Arie, Ziggy Marley, DJ Quik, Ghostface Killah, Guru, Everlast & Cuban legend Francisco Aguabella. He has conducted in many great venues in the USA, including Hollywood Bowl and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Visit Double G's music page here.