Filmmaker Working on Movie About Harrowing Des Moines River Rescue
One of the most harrowing river rescues in history, let alone Iowa history, is going to be getting the big-screen treatment from a Missouri filmmaker.
Filmmaker Colin LaVaute, whose most notable credit is probably the 2011 horror film You're Next, is set to start principal photography on his film, tentatively titled Hero, this month, per The Des Moines Register. The film is set to tell the story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a construction worker named Jason Oglesbee rescuing a woman named Patti Ralph Neely from the powerful currents of the Des Moines River in 2009.
LaVaute's background is also in music, as he's the signer in a popular Missouri band known as Decadent Nation. He also owns LV Creative, an agency he uses to tell unique and compelling stories across a variety of media.
The story of Jason Oglesbee is well-documented Iowa lore. Oglesbee was working on construction along the Des Moines River the day Patti Neely's boat capsized, leaving her and her husband at the mercy of the river's rough tides. Strapped to a pully lowered by his crew, Jason was able to rescue Patti from the water. Patti's husband, Alan, sadly drowned.
Oglesbee sadly passed away in April 2017, and his personal life was one of addiction and struggle. Even for those who knew Oglesbee, that seems hard to believe, as he was constantly referred to as "selfless," "helpful," and "compassionate." One look at that award-winning photo and you could mistake Oglesbee for Bruce Willis with his chiseled physique and hairstyle.
Neely is now 80-years-old and lives in Pleasant Hill. The Des Moines Register caught up with her just as LaVaute was looking to start production on Hero. Patti hadn't really relived the even through photographs and reporting since that fateful day she nearly lost her life:
I thought I would be reliving all that if I looked at them. But it wasn’t sad like I thought it would be. It wasn't scary. It's part of the story. - Patti Neely per The Des Moines Register
Colin LaVaute reportedly wanted to make a documentary on Oglesbee's story from the moment he saw that photograph. He's always had a passion for documentary filmmaking, and after 10 years of telling stories through videos and podcasts, this seemed like the perfect time to get the project off the ground:
One of the things that I think about is the fact that none of the people that were involved (the hero, the rescued, the photographer) woke up that morning knowing how their lives would be changed forever. Through interviewing these subjects, I think that there is an opportunity to showcase a portrait of Midwestern life seen through the prism of tragedy and triumph. Colin LaVaute per The Des Moines Register
Despite his selfless acts and unquestionable heroism, Oglesbee reportedly felt remorse that he couldn't also rescue Neely's husband. Following battles with addiction and prison time, he passed away in 2017.
LaVaute hopes this documentary honors Oglesbee, and hopes that everyone involved can look at what was an objectively terrifying, potentially tragic day with a new perspective. You can read more about LaVaute's upcoming documentary Hero on The Des Moines Register's website.
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