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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 played 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 college 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 participated in the student government. 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 and 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.
Upon his return, 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 and 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 in Atlanta. 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 use solar power 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). In May 2010, after returning from overseas, Lingerfelt resigned from teaching and his PhD program in Cross-Cultural Studies at Fuller in Pasadena 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 in its first year.
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 at the Emmy award winning production company Revolution Pictures in Nashville. 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 is written and will be directed in 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 in a five-novel series following The Mason Jar, is set to be released in book stores world wide in November 2015. In addition, he recently won the Nasser Entertainment screenwriting competition in Studio City, CA and he's been selected to write the pilot episode for a cartoon series the company will launch in 2016.
Currently, Lingerfelt's partnering with faculty at Jacksonville State University and The University of Alabama in Birmingham in developing Alabama's first standard high school film curriculum. Students will graduate high school career-ready in the art of movie and documentary film making. The program is predicted to bring an estimated $4.6 to $6 billion into Alabama before the year 2025.
If you would like to write James Russell Lingerfelt or book him for a speaking engagement, see Contact above. He is represented by The MacGregor Literary Agency and serves in the Homewood/Mountain Brook Kiwanis Club in Birmingham.