Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 2, 2014

Sony picks up 'Land Ho!'

RWHS grad's film expected to be released this summer

Lee Ward
The Independent

ASHLAND — An area native got career-changing news recently.

Filmmaker Martha Stephens’ movie, “Land Ho!” which was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival, was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics for national distribution.

“I couldn’t believe it; I was stunned,” Stephens, a 2002 graduate of Raceland-Worthington High School, said. “The image of the Sony Pictures Classics logo kept appearing in my brain.”

Stephens is co-writer and co-director with her friend, Aaron Katz, of the comedy about two ex-brothers-in-law who embark on a trip to Iceland to escape the routine of their lives.

“It stars Paul Eenhoorn and Earl Lynn Nelson,” Stephens said. “Paul is a sort of indie film darling, returning to Sundance a second year, and Earl Lynn is my cousin and Boyd County resident to boot!”

She said the process has been surreal and exciting.

“Being purchased by SPC means that I’ve made something that could be commercially viable. It means that I’ve made a film that was popular at Sundance and shows that I’m worth investing in,” she said, noting such a success will make it easier to obtain funding for future projects.

“Most of the money that we made will go back to the investors’ pockets. I do own points, however, and I will receive some compensation, which is really rad because I’ve never really made an income from my films before.”

Stephens said she expects the movie to be released in 25 to 30 cities this summer.

Stephens’ first feature “Passenger Pigeons” played at SXSW Film Festival in San Diego in 2010 and her second, “Pilgrim Song,” was screened at that festival two years later. They were both shot in Kentucky and the opening to “Land Ho!” is set in Boyd County.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.