“Red Fern” Company Owes More Than $700,000; Producer Says Film Will Be Finished

Tuesday, December 21st 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

It's lights, camera and possible legal action on the set of the movie "Where the Red Fern Grows." The film's crew stopped working when their salaries weren't being paid. Now they have hired an attorney who’s trying to collect the money owed to them. The producer has vowed to pay up and finish the film.

It was an exciting taste of Hollywood for Tahlequah: celebrities coming to town, along with a few of the jobs that also come with a feature film. But production on the movie folded the week before Thanksgiving, when the payroll ran dry for the mostly California-based cast and crew. The film company owes an estimated $700,000. Most of the balance is owed to a single transportation company.

The Oklahoma Film Commission is monitoring the situation. "We try very hard to make sure that the people who do the work including the catering, the housing, the acting and the writing do get paid, but we have no control over it whatsoever,” said Oklahoma Film Office director Bob Davis.

Lyman Dayton is producing the movie. He says the film’s backers fell behind in supplying the money he needs to keep shooting. In a telephone interview with the News on Six, Dayton said, "All of the money didn't come in and it has just left us short. We fully intend to come back as soon as we possibly can and finish it up." Dayton says he hopes to resume filming January 10th and has only two weeks of shooting left.

The state film office believes the crew will be paid, and the movie finished. "They're into it too far,” explained Davis. “They've got Ned Beatty, Dabney Coleman and Dave Mathews, one of the hottest properties in the country right now. They've got some wonderful footage in the can. I've seen a lot of the dailies and they're great,” he continued. “There's no way that this film is not going to get finished."

Dayton also says the crew has been wonderful, but obviously some are understandably upset due to present situation. “We feel a terrific regret and responsibility," he said.

The movie is based on the popular book by the same name and features several stars, which in Hollywood is regarded as a good recipe for a box office success. Now the crew and the producer must wait to get the funds to finish shooting the film.