Wide-Eyed locks up tale of innocent inmate

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An innocent man who spent 23 years on death row without regretting "a single day" is the unlikely hero of a planned feature-length documentary from U.K.-based indie production company Wide-Eyed Entertainment.

The project marks a series of firsts for the company, including its debut dip into feature-length films, its first trip to Cannes' Marche du Film and its first effort backed by visual effects house Red Vision VFX.

Wide-Eyed, formed by TV production veterans and financiers Jasper James, Parule Basu-Barua and David McNab and partnered with Red Vision, plans to bring the story of death row inmate Nick Yarris — once on the FBI's most-wanted list — to the big screen.

Yarris turned himself in believing that DNA testing would exonerate him. But it would be 18 years before a judge allowed the tests to go ahead. In the meantime, aside from beatings by guards and fellow inmates, the callow youth learned to read and write and, while in jail, consumed 9,000 dime-store novels. As a result, the way he talks is heavily influenced.

McNab, who is using more than 20 hours of interviews with him produced by Dox Prods., said Yarris talks "like an Elmore Leonard novel." McNab and company will splice together one-on-one interviews from Dox with CG-animation of incidents in the story in a graphic novel style.

Basu-Barua, who has years of experience raising cash for TV projects, said the decision to set up the project as a feature doc came as part of Wide-Eyed's aim to "produce feature film animation made on television budgets." (partialdiff)
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