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About The Production
It is an American folktale that has been passed down by storytellers for decades, spreading across distance and time to take on the proportions of a larger-than-life legend: that of the eccentric hermit known as Felix "Bush,” who temporarily came out of hiding to throw a grand funeral bash for himself -- while he was still very much alive and kicking. Now, the story has taken on another incarnation: inspiring a motion picture that peers behind the folklore to unfold the colorful drama of a man's last-ditch quest for redemption.

Like many classic American yarns, the story of Felix "Bush” is based in truth. The real Felix "Bush” Breazeale lived in Kingston, Tennessee in the 1930s. Born into a prominent Southern family, he was nevertheless renown for his wild and offbeat ways. For years, Felix famously dwelled completely alone, refusing all company save for his beloved mule, in the deep, deep woods. Then, suddenly, Felix decided that, before he died, he'd like to know in advance what people were going to say about him after he was gone. Thus was born his wild idea for a "living funeral,” which would soon command national attention.

To draw a crowd to this highly irregular memorial, Felix sold lottery tickets offering his valuable plot of land as the prize; and the ploy worked. In the end, it was said that as many as 12,000 "mourners” from at least 14 different states showed up on June 26, 1938 -- including a Life Magazine photographer and major newspaper reporters -- to pay their respects to Felix . . . . as he watched it all transpire. Afterwards, Felix explained to the Roane County Banner: "Just wanted to hear what the preacher had to say about me while I am alive.”

The story has been told and retold since that day, and a few generations later, screenwriter Chris Provenzano (Mad Men) was at a Thanksgiving Dinner when the entertaining yarn was spun once again, this time by his friend Scott Seeke - whose grandfather-in-law, a retired undertaker, had been sharing the tale of Felix's offbeat funeral for decades.

Provenzano, however, was more than just amused. He was struck immediately by the magic, mystery and open questions at the heart of the story. He wondered: Why had Felix done it? What was he looking for? What terrible, gnawing secrets might have driven him into his unusual backwoods life and what might have suddenly urged Felix, late in life, to so openly and urgently seek amends before it was too late?

Those questions lie at the heart of the screenplay Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell (Blood Diamond) would ultimately write, as they dug deeper into the legend and fictionalized the facts that had been lost to time. (When it came to inner motives, the real Felix "Bush” had kept largely mum, mentioning only in passing that there was a woman he wanted whom he could never have.)

Imagining the background to Felix "Bush's” story, Provenzano and Mitchell carved out an array of both historical characters (such as the Reverend Charles Jackson, who did indeed preach at Felix's funeral party) and fictional characters (including the morally challenged funeral home owner, Frank Quinn, and the alluring widow, Maddie Darrow, whose undisclosed past with Felix leads to shocking revelations of an unsolved murder), each of whom is seeking the answer to why Felix is planning a funeral . . . . and each of whom has his or her own reasons to care about the outcome.

Felix himself was fully fleshed as a man filled to overflowing with secrets and regrets, a tough, rugged , diehard individualist whose seclusion and primal backwoods knowledge has won him a supernatural reputation that has, up till now, allowed no one to know his true heart. The resulting tale unraveled in the tradition of big-hearted Southern storytelling – with its broad cast of quirky, heartbroken characters; its haunting riddles of the past; and its themes of thwarted love, unpunis

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