GATLINBURG (WATE) – It’s hard to believe it’s been almost three years since the death of 12-year-old Regen Morris, the boy at the center of the Rootin’ for Regen phenomenon.
The East Tennessee community and beyond rallied around Regen and his family as he bravely fought a rare form of brain cancer, never losing that bright smile.
In the months after Regen’s death, JC Films started work on a movie about how Regen’s courage helped transform the lives of so many people. Many have asked why the film hasn’t yet made it to the big screen.
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The whole process presented a new set of challenges for the Morris family. When on-location work began on Regen’s movie in spring 2015, it brought our community together again, everyone working together re-enacting big moments in Regen’s journey, like the scene showing the huge outpouring at Regen’s homecoming parade.
The full length Christian-based feature film was to be produced and directed by JC Films, owned by Jason Campbell, who said at the time he was excited to work on the story of such a special boy.
The final scenes were supposed to be shot last winter, but that didn’t happen. Weeks and months went by without a movie release.
Regen’s mom Tishia posted on the Rootin’ for Regen Facebook page saying: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, and circumstances beyond our control, we are no longer and do not wish to be associated with Jason Campbell the individual, JC Films, or any other entity associated with Jason Campbell.”
Regen’s dad, Dan Morris says the film is still on, despite being stalled earlier.
“We filmed about 80 percent of the film. There were still scenes left to be finished and those scenes were not finished,” he said.
Now that the film is no longer in the hands of JC Films, it’s now a project for another film company and changing direction from the original plan.
“We filmed many scenes in this area. Some were factual, some were more a fictional version. Now, we’ve taken kind of the best parts of the real story and the actual people that were interviewed. It’s going to be a docu-drama. We’re going to blend the filmed scenes with the actors and the real interviews with the real people who were part of Regen’s story,” Dan Morris explained.
The new trailer has been posted on YouTube. Dan Morris says director Heath Gleason has overseen new footage shot over the summer that will help tell Regen’s story.
“We went to Virginia, my hometown, my home area, got lots of people that are close to me, lots of family members that were part of the story. So we got them on camera and we also, my wife’s family is here. We did several interviews with family members and coaches and teachers and the actual people that were really part of it. We got their interviews,” Morris said.
There is no official release date yet, but Dan Morris says he’s hoping for spring 2017. He won’t say a negative word about parting ways with the project’s original film company.
“We’re very thankful to Jason Campbell and JC Films for coming to us and getting this project up and going and getting it started, and we’re just thankful to Heath Gleason for coming in to finish the project.”
The Morrises are very hands on with this project. Right now, along with the director, they’re going through 20 to 30 hours of interviews that must be pared down to a 90 minute film, so it’s a big undertaking to get to the final product.
JC Films has not responded to a request for comment.