"The Verdigris" is proudly the first official Project Launch from the Aviation Cinemas team (The Texas Theatre). A group of notable Oklahoma musicians and filmmakers have announced plans to create a documentary tracing the life of Will Rogers across the United States.
“The Verdigris: In Search of Will Rogers” will consist of two parts — a documentary film and an accompanying record. Oklahoma-born musician Beau Jennings, has spent the past several years writing songs about Rogers, his boyhood hero. Oklahoma filmmaker Bradley Beesley will follow Jennings across the United States as he performs these original songs at various locations where significant events in Rogers’ life occurred — from Oklahoma to Hollywood to Alaska.
“‘The Verdigris’ is something that has become very special to me — it’s named for the river that runs through both my hometown and Will’s — and I hope it can become something special to others, too,” Jennings said. “I think everyone knows Will as Oklahoma’s favorite son, but I also think he has faded into the past a bit, reduced to a few memorable quotes. Hopefully with this project, we can all rediscover what made Will Rogers so cool.”
The footage of Jennings’ performances will be interspersed with interviews and other narrative elements to tell the story not only of Rogers’ life, but also of Jennings’ attempt to explore through his songwriting the inspiration he finds in Rogers. The accompanying album will include songs performed on location, as well as songs recorded in the studio.
In addition to Jennings and Beesley, the project is presented by Aviation Cinemas (Barak Epstein, Eric Steele, Adam Donaghey, Jason Reimer) and the project team will include Producers Eric Steele and Adam Donaghey, co-producer Jonathan Fowler, and music producers/studio engineers Jarod Evans and Chad Copelin from Blackwatch Studios.
In a word, no. The goal of ‘The Verdigris’ is to honestly and faithfully explore a source of great inspiration for me. There are many reasons I find Will Rogers inspiring, and yet it is difficult to put into words the concrete reasons for retracing his footsteps from New York to Alaska. The idea is that by the end of the trip a better understanding of what made Will Rogers who he was can be used to reflect on what makes us who we are. If we can do this part properly, we can only hope that a new awareness of Will Rogers and his incredible life can be a fortunate result.
I grew up near the Will Rogers Museum, which is in Claremore, OK. I was assigned a book report in the 3rd grade, and so I chose some children’s book about Will’s life that my mom bought me in the museum gift shop, although I’m not sure I ever actually wrote it. I tend to think of ‘The Verdigris’ as finishing an assignment long overdue!
That’s so cool you’re covering Will Rogers’ songs, which is your favorite? -or- Will Rogers, cool that’s the guy with the fast food restaurants right? -or- Why did they name the airport after some dude who died in a plane crash?
I’ve learned there are lots of misconceptions about Will Rogers (he wasn’t a singer or songwriter, he’s a different person from Roy Rogers, and yes he died in a plane crash but he is also remembered as one of the first and most ardent champions of aviation). Like I mention above, the main goal of ‘The Verdigris’ won’t be to educate people per se, but a more accurate awareness certainly will be a positive aspect of a film that we hope gives a true and honest portrait of Will Rogers.
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