A new film from writer and director, Garrett Batty, looks to portray all the staples of a classic western within the context of a religious movement.
The movie has played in Utah and Missouri, and it recently premiered in Rexburg. Audiences may remember previous films from Batty such as “The Saratov Approach” and “Freetown.”
“Out of Liberty” tells the story of the unsuspecting jailer Samuel Tillery (Jasen Wade) as he works to defend justice and protect his high-profile inmates in 1839 Missouri.
Mobs assemble and fighting ensues as Tillery struggles to protect the due process of Joseph Smith and other early leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while they’re imprisoned in Liberty Jail.
In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, Batty said it was the idea of creating this film as a western that really drew his attention.
“I think these church history stories can be told within the context of genres that we’re familiar with,” he said. He called it a “jailbreak thriller” that will tie in spiritual elements at the same time.
Batty said a lot of research was done to ensure the historical accuracy of the film. That included reviewing personal journals and firsthand accounts of what happened at Liberty Jail. “Out of Liberty” covers the five-month span the men spent imprisoned.
The film was created in a relatively short period of time. The entire movie was shot in an 11-day period on a replica of Liberty Jail that was built just north of Utah Lake.
The idea for the movie came out of a previous idea for a film about the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. Batty said he and others then learned of the story of Samuel Tillery through more extensive research.
“It’s an amazing story,” Batty said. “The local resident, Sam Tillery, is asked to be the jailer. He’s the jailer and probably normally just deals with guys that got in a little scuffle or something. Suddenly there’s a high-profile case thrown his way…what would be going through this guy’s mind?”
The movie plays at FatCats in Rexburg tonight at 6 and tomorrow at noon and 6 p.m.