The movie, a thriller starring Teri Polo, Chazz Palminteri and Tia Carrere, was produced by Elaine Hastings Edell and Jeffrey S. Edell, the sister-in-law and brother of Bell Buckle attorney Linda Edell Howard. Howard invited the Edells to hold a screening in Bell Buckle as a benefit for the Ordinary Hero Foundation, a Brentwood-based child advocacy organization working in Ethiopia.
"She is as persuasive a person as she is an attorney," said Jeffrey Edell during Saturday's event.
The black-tie event included a red carpet on which attendees could pose for professional photos, a reception, a screening of the film and then a question-and-answer session with the Edells.
The movie will see a very limited theatrical release this month but will be shown Dec. 28 by the cable channel Lifetime, under the new title "Taken For Ransom." It's also being sold in international markets.
The movie, directed by Barbara Stepansky, is the story of Brooke Holton (Polo), a successful entrepreneur thrown into despair and substance abuse by the tragic death of one of her children, for which she blames herself. Her husband (Matt Socia) and her most-trusted business associate (Carrere) watch as she seems unable or unwilling to stop her downward spiral.
Just when she's at her lowest point, she's kidnapped by a team headed by the mysterious Jerry (Palminteri) and must overcome her despair if she is to find the resolve to save her own life and that of a fellow captive (Luke Eberl).
The story had been around for 15 years, said Elaine Edell, and was originally written with a male lead character. When the Edells began talking with a company called Marvist Entertainment about potential projects, the old script was pulled out of the file and the suggestion was made to swap it to a female lead. The change strengthened the movie, she said.
"I think it came out great," she said.
Steven Edell, a cousin to Jeffrey Edell and Linda Edell Howard, had been involved with the script and was originally supposed to direct, but visa problems with his normal director of photography kept that from working out. Stepansky, a Polish-born, German-raised graduate of American Film Institute training programs, was chosen instead.
"She was just so strong, and so wonderful," said Elaine Edell.
The movie was shot in Cleburne, Texas, south of Fort Worth. Jeffrey Edell recalled driving through a Texas town and not noticing a change in the speed limit. He was pulled over for speeding -- and the other three occupants of the car were Palminteri and actors Morgana Shaw and Paul Vincent Blue, who play enforcers working for Palminteri's character.
All three of the actors were in costume and carrying prop guns, and at first the police officer was skeptical of Edell's story that they were all on their way to make a movie. Eventually, they were allowed to go, although Edell still ended up with a $350 speeding ticket.
Elaine and Jeffrey Edell said they were charmed by Bell Buckle and the hospitality they received. They stayed with B&B operator Katie Felices. When asked if they might ever consider shooting a film in the small town, they responded that Tennessee needs to improve the tax breaks it extends to movie productions.
The Edells' next project will be "Vinny The Elf," a holiday-themed comedy about organized crime taking over Christmas. It's possible, but not yet definite, that Palminteri will be involved with that project as well.
TV producer, music supervisor, author and columnist Anastasia Brown moderated the Q-and-A session with the Edells.
Others in attendance included representatives of the Nashville Film Festival and the film program at Watkins Institute in Nashville.
Ordinary Hero Foundation founder Kelly Putty was also in attendance. The foundation works to raise public awareness of the worldwide orphan crisis and provides outreach and adoption opportunities.