Shelton and Al Reinert wrote the script to the feature that depicts the true-life events that led Ed “Hacksaw” Jones to break out of 14 prisons and become the first person to ever be put on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list without ever committing a violent crime.
Escape Artist centres on Jones, who after being falsely sentenced to ten years of hard labor in a chain gang, escapes and begins a life on the run as a master escape artist. The charming and charismatic man becomes a folk hero to many as he continually re-invents himself until the FBI finally catches up with him.
Shelton said: “I got to know Ed well when he rented a house in the Hollywood Hills from me after I moved out. Ed was the greatest tenant in history - the bed was always made with the sheets tucked in without a wrinkle. The house was spotless. He changed the locks so even I couldn’t get in. And he paid six months in advance - all cash!”
“We’d sit around drinking his beloved Chivas Regal and the stories would start flowing till the bottle was drained. Though much of his life was stolen from him by a cruel and flawed criminal justice system, he managed to live a thousand wondrous lives with the time he had.”
Gold Star Films co-chairman Joey Tufaro, Signature Films founder, Marc Goldberg, and production executive Sarah Gabriel are producing the film. John Watson and Kellie Davis will also be producing alongside Gold Star Films co-chairman Todd Trosclair who will serve as an executive producer.
Shelton marked his directorial debut in Bull Durham, and followed that with White Men Can’t Jump andTin Cup. He wrote the screenplay for Bad Boys II and is currently in post-production on Just Getting Started, starring Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones.
Gold Star specialises in films with budges ranging from $5-$25m, and frequently films in southern Louisiana to utilise state tax credits. The company produced Halle Berry drama Kidnap, and Maggie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigale Breslin.
London-based Signature Films most recently produced Scott Mann’s action film Final Score, which stars Dave Batista and Pierce Brosnan, and last year’s British action hit The Hatton Garden Job starring Matthew Goode and Stephen Moyer.
Tufaro said: “Ron is an incredibly talented director with a track record of hit films with unique points of view. His personal way of storytelling will add so much to this story about a man who faced and overcame insurmountable obstacles.”
Goldberg added: “It’s so rare to find a story as fascinating and compelling as that of Ed Jones. I read the script and immediately thought, ‘This can’t be true.’ Ron Shelton has done a phenomenal job bringing this story to life, and we are honoured and excited to work with him.”
The film is slated to be shot in the greater New Orleans, Louisiana area.