Pollack Films announced today that the inspirational documentary film “Fields of Gold” will make its world premiere on August 18 at 7:00 p.m. PT at the Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills.
Written and directed by Regional Emmy Award-winner Julie Staley of Spencer Films and narrated by Emmy Award-winning actor Peter Coyote, this documentary chronicles the incredible journey of Augustus Eugene Staley, born in 1867, from barefoot farmer to the founder and leader of an agricultural empire. The film features Mr. Staley’s ownership of turn-of-twentieth-century baseball and football teams called the Decatur Staleys. The Decatur Staleys football squad led by George Halas, Charles “Chic” Harley, and Edward “Dutch” Sternaman played in Chicago in 1921 and then became the Chicago Bears in 1922.
The film is produced by Michael Pollack, who has recently inked a five-picture financing deal out of Europe and is currently negotiating a four-picture deal out of New York; “Pollack Films is a production company dedicated to creating compelling and impactful films. We aim to inspire and entertain audiences while shedding light on extraordinary individuals and their contributions to society,” said Michael Pollack, CEO of Pollack Films.
Executive produced by Mark Staley, and the late Grant Staley, both great-grandsons of A.E. Staley, this film is an important family legacy project. In addition, the movie is of monumental importance to the Decatur, Illinois, community. It is supported by The Herald & Review newspaper and The Staley Museum.
Executive Producer Arthur Allan Seidelman who has collected his share of awards supervised the post-production. His awards include two Emmys, the Peabody, the Humanitas, the Western Heritage, several Christophers, and numerous film festival awards. He also recently received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Whittier College, his alma mater. Mr. Seidelman leading the post-production team was instrumental in crafting “Fields of Gold,” guiding the film to shine bright.
The film is also executive produced by Lauren McGill and George Veras. Mr. Veras is a 10-time Emmy Award-winning producer and former COO and Executive Producer at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
“Fields of Gold” brings the audience along on the captivating journey of A.E. Staley, a man with a 3rd-grade education who defied all odds to become a pioneering figure in both the agricultural industry and the world of professional sports. The documentary vividly portrays Staley’s unwavering commitment to his employees, his customers, and his community. Throughout his career, Staley demonstrated selflessness and compassion, going above and beyond to take care of his workers during a time when social support systems were lacking.
“What impressed me the most about Gene Staley’s story was that despite the hardships he faced to build his manufacturing business in Decatur, Illinois, in the early 1900s, he cared more about people than money,” said Pollack. “This man went through a lot, lost it all, rolled the dice, and lost again, but he always took care of people. He was selfless. This is what made Staley a success.”
The film also explores Staley’s philanthropic endeavors, from providing sick leave and vacation time to his employees, to personally delivering food during times of hardship. Despite facing numerous challenges, including the Great Depression, Staley’s steadfast determination and vision enabled him to navigate through adversity and emerge as a visionary leader.
At a time when the U.S. Congress had voted against a bill for paid sick leave and vacation time, Staley’s company was one of the few that provided those paid benefits and a death benefit for its employees.
During the Great Depression (1929-1938), though his company struggled, Staley reduced employees’ hours by 33% without cutting their pay. Moreover, he expanded the workforce by 200 employees, resulting in a substantial $1 million increase in the company’s payroll—a staggering figure by today’s standards. “He protected the entire community during this treacherous economy. Staley’s emphasis on employee safety was a top priority that he emphasized every day from the Staley Manufacturing Company plant’s first day of operation,” Pollack added.
“One of Gene’s most ambitious endeavors was the fellowship club which he created for both employee benefits at work and personal social time,” stated Writer and Director Julie Staley, and also a Producer on the project.”The fellowship club gave workers a sense of community and family, eventually leading Gene to create athletic teams. The most notable being a football team the Decatur Staleys, led by George Halas, which later became the Chicago Bears.”
“Fields of Gold” seamlessly blends historical documentation with engaging storytelling elements to provide viewers with a comprehensive and immersive experience. Through meticulous editing techniques, including incorporating movement in still photographs and using stock footage and reenactment footage, the film transports audiences to the era in which Staley lived and worked, creating a visually captivating narrative.
With its balanced representation of Staley’s achievements in both the agricultural and sporting realms, “Fields of Gold” promises to leave a lasting impact on viewers and contribute to a deeper understanding of his transformative journey, leadership, and the enduring power of titans like Augustus Eugene Staley.
“Fields of Gold” will premiere on August 18 at 7:00 p.m. PT at the Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills, with red carpet arrivals at 5:30 p.m., and will have a Decatur, Illinois premiere on September 16 at 7:00 p.m. CT at the Lincoln Square Theater followed by a limited theatrical run.