Ron Shelton is set to direct Escape Artist, a movie from a script that he and Al Reinhert wrote about the true events surrounding Ed “Hacksaw” Jones, who broke out of 14 prisons and later ended up renting a house from Shelton in Los Angeles. Shelton is helming for Gold Star Films and Signature Films.
Jones would become the first person to be put on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list without ever committing a violent crime.
“I got to know Ed well when he rented a house in the Hollywood Hills from me after I moved out,” Shelton said. “Ed was the greatest tenant in history: The bed was always made with the sheets tucked in without a wrinkle, the house was spotless, he changed the locks so even I couldn’t get in, and he paid six months in advance — all cash! We’d sit around drinking his beloved Chivas Regal, and the stories would start flowing till the bottle was drained. Though much of his life was stolen from him by a cruel and flawed criminal justice system, he managed to live a thousand wondrous lives with the time he had.”
Jones was a legendary criminal who turns out to be no criminal at all. After being falsely sentenced to 10 years of hard labor on a chain gang, he escaped and began a life on the run as a master escape artist. Handsome, charming and charismatic, Jones became a folk hero to many as he continually re-invented himself until the FBI finally caught up with him. He was placed in a maximum-security prison from which no man had ever escaped, but … of course, ahem.
Gold Star Films co-chairman Joey Tufaro, Signature Films founder Marc Goldberg and production executive Sarah Gabriel are producing. John Watson and Kellie Davis will also be producing alongside Gold Star Films co-chairman Todd Trosclair who will serve as an executive producer. The film is slated to be shot in the greater New Orleans area.
Gold Star produced the Halle Berry-starring Kidnap as well as Maggie, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin. Gold Star has found its niche filming in southern Louisiana, specializing in films budgets ranging from $5 million-$25 million.
Signature Films most recently produced Scott Mann’s Final Score, the actioner starring Dave Batista and Pierce Brosnan, and last year’s British action hit The Hatton Garden Job starring Matthew Goode and Stephen Moyer.
Shelton marked his directorial debut with Bull Durham and then went onto direct sports comedies including White Men Can’t Jump and Tin Cup. He also wrote the screenplay for Bad Boys II and is in post-production on Just Getting Started, which stars Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones.
Shelton is represented by CAA and Oasis Media Group.