The bright lights of Hollywood will soon shine in Fort Worth when production starts on a movie about a scrappy football team made up of boys who lived in an orphanage.
Production of the feature film "12 Mighty Orphans" will start in the fall, according to the Fort Worth Film Commission and Visit Fort Worth in a news release. The two agencies started working with producers in early 2018 showing them areas in Fort Worth and Weatherford.
Director Ty Roberts found just what he needed in Fort Worth to tell the story of an underdog football team in the 1930s that became the toughest warriors around under coach Rusty Russell.
"For me, there's nothing more important than authenticity in making a movie. Shooting in Fort Worth provides a foundation for us to build our film which allows our team to source everything as it was — from references, to historians, to the real locations — all of this is invaluable to a period movie," said Roberts. "We've been welcomed with open doors here and are thrilled to be working with local crews and cast members to bring this incredible true story to life. We could't be more excited to be here and I thank the Fort Worth community for receiving us with open arms."
The film stars Dallas-native Luke Wilson as Russell and is based on Jim Dent's 2007 bestseller "Twelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football."
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The book relives the 1930s and '40s when nothing was bigger in Texas high school football than the Masonic Home Mighty Mites — a group of orphans bound together by hardship and death. These youngsters, in spite of being outweighed by at least 30 pounds per man, were the toughest football team around. They began with nothing — not even a football — yet in a few years were playing for the state championship on the highest level of Texas football.
The book is a tribute to a courageous band of underdogs from a time when America desperately needed fresh hope and big dreams.
Wilson will play the coach who got them there. Russell was a World War I veteran whose mother had left him at an orphanage when he was a child. He takes the job as head football coach at the Masonic home in southeast Fort Worth and transforms a group of boys in need of their now champion into a powerhouse football team.
"We are thrilled to welcome the '12 Mighty Orphans' team to Fort Worth," said Jessica Christopherson, AVP of marketing and film commissioner. "This is an important Fort Worth story and a fantastic opportunity for the local industry. We will be working with them throughout the process to assist with locations, permits and anything else that may be needed during filming."