Tennessee production pioneers launch feature-film production company in Tennessee

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Tennessee production pioneers launch feature-film production company in Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, TENN. – Nest Features, a company dedicated to producing feature-length films in the American South, has launched in Knoxville, Tenn.  Nest Features is the first production company of its kind in Knoxville and is an outgrowth of television production pioneers Dee Haslam and Ross Bagwell, Sr.’s entertainment businesses which include RIVR Media, the company responsible for creating and producing award-winning programming including WHALE WARS for Animal Planet and TRADING SPACES for TLC.

Having produced thousands of hours of programming for more than 18 cable networks, Haslam and Bagwell are excited to bring their passion and experience in entertainment to feature-length filmmaking especially to Knoxville, the fifth largest area for television production in the United States.

Haslam explains Nest Features was created from the vision of Bagwell who began his television career as a page in the 1950s for NBC in New York City before working on such programs as Peabody Award-winning, HOWDY DOODY in the 1960s. In the late 1970s, Bagwell launched Cinetel Productions, growing the company to be the largest independent production company in the United States.  A few of the iconic programs Bagwell produced include Nickelodeon’s, HEY DUDE and TNN’s CLUB DANCE.  In 1994, Bagwell sold Cinetel Productions to Scripps Howard for the launch of HGTV, which has become a household name and cable television giant.

Haslam, Bagwell’s daughter, has worked for the family business since 1986 before joining with Rob Lundgren to open RIVR Media, RIVR Media Interactive, and Moving Picture Books.

“We spent our careers producing programming for television and are eager to bring a regional sensibility to the silver screen,” said Haslam.

In addition to her success in entertainment production, Haslam is a minority owner of the National Football League’s Cleveland Browns.

According to Bagwell, Knoxville is the perfect place to launch the feature-film company, a first for the city as well as the surrounding region, as the area’s pool of talented producers and crew, as well as those enthusiastic about supporting film, is great.  “Nest Features will showcase our region by hiring talent and crew that share our region-centric passion,” said Bagwell.  “We’re also committed to filming our feature-length projects within the many picturesque settings the region has to offer and further positioning Knoxville as a creative center of the American South.”

Nest Features aims to produce between two and four feature-length films over the next two years with a largely regional cast and crew. The first of this slate is SOMETHING, ANYTHING, written and directed by Sundance award-winning filmmaker Paul Harrill, who, along with filmmaker Ashley Maynor, has been tapped as Managing Producer for the new venture. Maynor was recently recognized by the Sundance Institute as a 2012-2013 Sheila C. Johnson Creative Producing Fellow.

According to Haslam, the filmmaking couple relocated to Knoxville in an effort to jumpstart the feature-length filmmaking community in Knoxville.  “Nest Features is proud that it will have the ability to showcase Sundance-recognized filmmakers like Paul and Ashley,” said Haslam.  “The creative talent they possess brings quality storytelling and a showcasing of our region’s artistic expertise to the production forefront.”

Harrill’s short films include GINA, AN ACTRESS, AGE 29, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking, and QUICK FEET, SOFT HANDS, a co-production with the Independent Television Service. In addition to SOMETHING, ANYTHING, his most recent feature-length script, JOY OF LIVING, was selected for IFP’s No Borders Co-Production Market. Called “one of America’s finest and most sensitive directors of actors” by film critic Ray Carney, Harrill’s films have screened around the world at festivals (Rotterdam, New Directors/New Films, etc.), museums (ICA London, Warsaw Centre for Contemporary Art, etc.), and on television. His work has been supported by the Aperture Film Grant, The MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. Harrill has also been named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine.

Maynor is a Tennessee-based filmmaker and producer. In addition to SOMETHING, ANYTHING, she produced the ITVS co-production QUICK FEET, SOFT HANDS, starring Greta Gerwig.  Her most recent film as director is the documentary FOR MEMORIES’ SAKE, which has screened at the Library of Congress, the Nashville Film Festival, the Maryland Film Festival, and on the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, among other venues. Maynor has been a visiting assistant professor at Virginia Tech where her community video outreach and creative research has been supported by the Southern Humanities Media Fund and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“We appreciate how Dee and Ross – two highly-successful entertainment executives – created the vision for Nest Features and we’re excited to work with them on this new venture,” said Maynor.

For more information about Nest Features, visit www.nestfeatures.com.


Media Contact:
Erin Freeman, Ackermann PR
Phone: (865) 584-0550

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