Film written, directed by East Texans puts spotlight on oilfield industry’s history

LIVE: IRON ORCHARD PRODUCER

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - A film chronicling the rise of the Texas oil industry is set to debut in theaters across the state.

“The Iron Orchard” tells the story of Jim McNeely, portrayed by Lane Garrison. In 1939, McNeely enters the West Texas oilfield business prior to the start of the Great Depression. The film is based on the 1966 novel of the same name.

VIDEO: Watch the trailer for 'The Iron Orchard'

“In a state gushing with oil and filled with ambition, McNeely settles into a small-town community that is slowly overcoming the trauma of the Great Depression,” the film website states.

McNeely faces adversaries reluctant to invest in a newcomer.

“Playing Jim McNeely was like jumping on a bucking bronco and trying to hold on with everything you’ve got. It was the hardest, most exhilarating ride of my life and I’ve never been more proud of a film," Garrison said of his character.

The film was directed by Ty Roberts, written by Gerry De Leon and produced by Houston Hill, Camille S. Chambers and George Sled.

Several of the film crew have connections to East Texas - an area known for its rich history of oilfield exploration and booms. Roberts is a Longview native and Hill is a Tyler native.

The film, which debuted on Feb. 22, has won an Audience Award at the Austin Film Festival. It opens in additional theaters, including Longview, Texas, on March 1.

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