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childhood and undergraduate years
James Russell Lingerfelt was raised on a cattle ranch in a north Alabama town of 750 people. He was an average student in high school, but excelled in literature, gravitating toward the writings of Emerson, Thoreau, and Longfellow. He started at point guard on the varsity basketball team, served as president of the student government, and was the first recipient of the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership award at his high school.
He attended Northeast State through a theatre scholarship, acting in the Broadway musicals Annie and Big River. He was first introduced to film by working as a production assistant and background extra on Dawson's Creek (starring Joshua Jackson, Katie Holmes, James Van Der Beek) and Tim Burton's Big Fish (Ewan McGregor, Steve Buscemi, Danny DeVito). He paid his way through college working as a bookkeeper at his hometown bank and on the college maintenance crew, scrubbing toilets and mopping floors. Having a close relationship with his parents and brother, he later transferred in-state to Auburn University where he and his brother were roommates.
At Auburn, Lingerfelt completed a BA in Marriage & Family Counseling with independent studies in 19th century British Literature, and he served in the student government as vice president of his college. He also joined the university lacrosse team and they won two consecutive conference championships. Lingerfelt volunteered with international humanitarian organizations during his summers, which included relief work in Jamaica and Romania, medical teams in Mexico, and a homeless men's soup kitchen in Scotland.
Lingerfelt completed a Masters in Ancient Judaic Studies at Pepperdine University with a focus on Hebrew Wisdom Literature. While at Pepperdine, he volunteered as a mentor at Camp David Gonzales; a juvenile delinquent rehabilitation center in Los Angeles County. He spent his first summer of graduate school in Morocco, assisting Berbers build village homes while pursuing Arabic History & Cultural Studies to better understand post 9/11 cross-cultural dialogue.
After graduation in 2006, he counseled genocide refugees in Uganda and taught English at Made-in-the-Streets; a street children's rehabilitation farm in Kenya. While there, Lingerfelt created a low budget documentary titled Made in the Streets of Africa. He was awarded the Lily Endowment for his work and the documentary is now used in human rights and social activist courses at universities across the states, including Fuller and Princeton.
Lingerfelt continued his humanitarian efforts (Egypt '07, Mongolia '08, Syria, Israel, Palestine '10, Liberia '11). In 2010, he served as an American representative at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies Conference in Beirut, Lebanon which focused on cross-cultural dialogue among youth peace movements. In 2011, he volunteered to write, produce and direct a documentary on microlending in Liberia for the Peachtree Presbyerian Church. The church now uses the documentary People Who Make a Difference at their annual humanitarian missions gala.
Following Liberia, Lingerfelt served as the keynote speaker at the Kiwanis Conference in Birmingham, 2012. His topic was microlending and ethical methods in humanitarian efforts.
Lingerfelt served on the board of directors for LifeBread, an organization that trained students in Uganda to build and use solar power ovens to cook meals. The organization ended in 2012 once the program became self-sufficient. Lingerfelt taught two years as a visiting professor in Ancient Judaic Studies at Lipscomb University ('07-'09). After returning from overseas in 2010, Lingerfelt resigned from teaching and his Ph.D program in Cross-Cultural Studies at Fuller to pursue a career in writing and film production. He spent five years writing his first novel, The Mason Jar, an inspirational epic, romance. He self-published and released it in December 2011 after being rejected by eight literary agents. The novel sold over 5,000 copies within two years.
HarperCollins and Amazon then offered contracts to purchase The Mason Jar and a sequel novel, but Lingerfelt refused since he couldn't keep the film rights. Best-selling romance author Diana Bold said she was "blown away" by The Mason Jar. Award-winning children's book author Nicole Weaver stated in a review, "Lingerfelt's book reads like one, long, beautiful poem." And author Lee Wilson called Lingerfelt the intersection of Nicholas Sparks and CS Lewis.
In 2012, Lingerfelt finished an internship in film producing and directing at the Emmy award winning production company Revolution Pictures. Lingerfelt went on to serve on production teams for The Song, Yellow Day, and Sweet Home Alabama. During this time, he wrote the screenplay for The Mason Jar, after reading over a dozen screenwriting books recommended by Hollywood executives.
In December 2013, Lingerfelt was flown to Beverly Hills for table talks concerning The Mason Jar feature film, and is currently scheduled for pre-production in 2015. Lingerfelt will serve as Writer/Producer. The film will echo the same dramatic and romantic tones as The Notebook (Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams) and Pride & Prejudice (Keira Knightley, Matthew Mcfadyen).
Alabama Irish, Lingerfelt's second novel following The Mason Jar, is set to be released in book stores world wide in Spring 2016. He won the 2015 Nasser Entertainment screenwriting competition in Studio City, CA and he's been selected to write the pilot episode for a cartoon series in 2016. He wrote and directed his first film, a seven minute short titled, Summer Leaves: A Love Story In DeKalb County, in December 2015. It will be released on YouTube and Vimeo February 14, 2016.
Lingerfelt is currently helping spearhead The Alabama Film Education Initiative, which is developing the state's first standard high school film curriculum. The program is predicted to help bring an estimated $4.6 to $6 billion into Alabama before the year 2025. He is represented by The MacGregor Literary Agency and is a member of the Homewood/Mountain Brook Kiwanis group.
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