Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cincinnati-Based Movie Includes Academy Award Winner and Grammy Winner


August 4, 2011 – For Immediate Release

Cincinnati-Based Movie Includes Academy Award Winner and Grammy Winner.

Rebel Pilgrim Productions, in association with Vineyard Cincinnati, will begin principal photography of A Strange Brand of Happy, a romantic comedy, on August 15, 2011. The movie will shoot entirely in Cincinnati, Ohio. This is the fourth feature film in five years for the company. The company’s previous film, Hitting The Nuts, won the Golden Ace Award for Superior Filmmaking at the 2011 Las Vegas Film Festival last month.

A Strange Brand of Happy stars Academy Award Winner Shirley Jones (Elmer Gantry, The Partridge Family), Grammy Award Winner Rebecca St. James, veteran comedic actor Marty Ingels (I'm Dickens He's Fenster), Joe Boyd (Hitting The Nuts), Joe Stevens (True Grit), Venida Evans (The Adjustment Bureau) and Ashley Palmer (Paranormal Activity).

The movie will be directed by Brad Wise and produced by Joe Boyd, Jim Nyberg and Philip Sarnecki. It expects a theatrical release in 2013.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rebel Pilgrim Announces New Movie Starring Rebecca St. James


June 15, 2011

Rebel Pilgrim Productions Announces New Romantic Comedy

Rebel Pilgrim Productions is an independent film production company with offices in Las Vegas, Nevada and Cincinnati, Ohio. The company announced today the production schedule for its fourth feature film in four years, a romantic comedy called A Strange Brand of Happy. Joe Boyd is the President of Rebel Pilgrim. “Slow and steady is our thing. We are building a filmmaking community in Cincinnati that can eventually compete with the big boys, but for now it’s all about doing the absolute best we can with what we have,” says Boyd.

The company aims to tell stories on film that also cause movie-goers to begin conversations about what Boyd calls, “the big questions of life.” Their latest project, Fenced Off, is slated to screen at film festivals later this year. Boyd says, “Fenced Off is an entertaining drama-slash-thriller about two men, one white and one black, who are both sure they are not prejudiced until the day they become neighbors. It’s about that little bit of racism still alive in the hearts of many of us who think we don’t struggle with it. Hopefully people will see it as a great story, but then leave the theater with something to talk about.”

The company’s next project aims to create another kind of conversation. A Strange Brand of Happy is a romantic comedy written and directed by Brad Wise, the writer/director of Fenced Off and Boyd’s creative partner. This movie stars Grammy-Award Winner Rebecca St. James as Joyce Heller, a single Christian life coach who falls for an agnostic client. “It’s a brilliantly funny script,” says Boyd. “But it also presses into issues of faith, hypocrisy and spiritual compatibility. Similarly to Fenced Off it shows that not everything is as simple as we want to make it. Relationships are complicated. Faith is complicated…and so is doubt.”

A Strange Brand of Happy is Rebel Pilgrim’s biggest project to date. It will shoot for four weeks in Cincinnati beginning August 15, 2011. Boyd says the movie has four studios interested in a theatrical release for 2012. “This movie is going to be bigger for us in many ways. It’s our biggest budget and longest shoot to date. We also anticipate it will be our first movie to have a significant run in theaters,” says Boyd.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Hitting The Nuts Movie Coming to Las Vegas


June 2, 2011

Hitting the Nuts Movie Coming to Las Vegas

Hitting The Nuts, the independent poker-themed comedy from Rebel Pilgrim Productions, is now an official selection of the Las Vegas Film Festival. The movie has enjoyed early buzz from the international poker community.

Jeff Madsen, the 2006 World Series of Poker Player of the Year, is one example of a notable fan of the movie. Madsen says, “Hitting the Nuts is without question the funniest poker movie ever made.  The film is committed to making fun of poker and the crazy personalities who love this great game, and that makes it fun to watch. I enjoyed every second of it! I can’t wait for it to screen in Las Vegas in July.”

The film, some five years in the making, will have its Las Vegas premiere on Saturday, July 16th at the Las Vegas Hilton as part of the Las Vegas Film Festival. Joe Boyd is the director and producer of the movie. “To say the least, we are excited to show Hitting the Nuts in Las Vegas. We’ve had thousands of inquiries from Vegas and expect a great showing. As fate would have it, the movie screens as the Main Event of the 2011 WSOP wraps up. It was meant to be,” says Boyd.

Thus far the movie has won an award in every festival it has entered, including Best Feature Film at both the 2010 Cincinnati Film Festival and the 2011 Derby City Film Festival. “This is and was always conceived as a laugh-out-loud farce comedy,” says Boyd. “It isn’t a typical film festival art flick, so the accolades have surprised all of us a little. It has been a great ride, though. We couldn’t be prouder of the critical success, but it’s really all about the comedy.”

Boyd is in negotiations for wider distribution with several distributers. Presently, DVDs may be purchased directly from the movie’s official site at Tickets are currently available for the Las Vegas Film Festival at

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hitting The Nuts Movie Wins Over Poker World


The independent comedy film, Hitting the Nuts: The True Story of the Scott County Series of Poker, is quickly garnering praise within the international poker community just a week after its DVD release.

The movie released on DVD via on April 15th. Joe Boyd, the producer and director, says, “since last Friday we have sold over half of our initial run of DVDs. Hundreds were pre-ordered and it hasn’t slowed down since our release on the 15th.”

As the DVDs went out, the reviews and comments from the poker blogs and notable poker players began pouring in. Chad Holloway, Senior Writer for, says he ordered the DVD and was “skeptical, as always.” However after viewing the comedy he said, “This is by far the best poker comedy out there and will no doubt set the standard. It blows The Grand (the 2007 comedy starring Woody Harrelson) out of the water. It combines the improv genius of Curb Your Enthusiasm with the mockumentary style of shows like The Office and Modern Family. Finally, a poker movie that got it right.”
The praise continues from Dan Harkenrider, the host of the Division of Poker radio show on ESPN Cleveland. Harkenrider says, “This movie nailed it. Very funny. An instant poker classic. It’s poker as it’s played everyday in America…it is poker’s version of Kingpin.”

James Guill of the poker blog,, sums up his April 25th review this way, “Hitting the Nuts was a bit over the top at times, but so is our game. The town, its people, and even the game were totally believable, and had you not known this was a “mockumentary,” you might think it was a true story. I would recommend that anyone go online and purchase a copy of this DVD.”

Perhaps the most notable fan of the surprise hit surfacing this week is Jeff Madsen. Madsen was the 2006 World Series of Poker Player of the Year, the most coveted title in the game. Madsen says, “Hitting the Nuts is without question the funniest poker movie ever made.  The film is committed to making fun of poker and the crazy personalities who love this great game, and that makes it fun to watch. I enjoyed every second of it!”

The movie has also received recent critical success, winning both the 2010 Cincinnati Film Festival and the 2011 Derby City Film Festival. Kristopher Rommel, Founder of the Derby City Festival, notes that the movie is, “one of the funniest films our festival has ever selected…an instant cult classic.”

Boyd says, “For now the movie is only available on DVD at We are shopping it for wider distribution. We have no doubt the right company will want to partner with us on this. You can just feel the momentum building day after day. People who love comedy and poker are eating up this quirky, funny movie.”

For more information on the movie including how to obtain the DVD, visit the official website at

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cincinnati Pastor Directs Successful Poker Movie


March 23, 2011

Cincinnati Pastor Directs Successful Poker Movie

 “I never exactly know how to answer the person next to me on the airplane who asks me what I do for a living,” says Joe Boyd, 37. “I mean, I’m a pastor…that’s what I was trained to do. But I am also an actor, a movie producer and an author of fantasy novels. It’s a complicated answer.”

Boyd never intended to be anything other than a pastor. He graduated from Cincinnati Christian University in 1995 and immediately went to Las Vegas to start a church for twenty-somethings. As a Christmas gift, Boyd’s wife enrolled him in The Second City Training Center in 2001. (The Second City is a renowned comedy school with many famous alumni including Bill Murray, Chris Farley, Tina Fey and Steve Carell.) Boyd personally studied under current Saturday Night Live star Jason Sudeikis.

“What started as a hobby quickly become a second career,” Boyd reflects. “I began doing my work at the church as a volunteer and performed improv comedy nightly on the Las Vegas Strip.” So Boyd went from the pulpit to the casino literally overnight. He played the role of Michael Just for over 500 shows in the Las Vegas/Broadway company of Tony n Tina’s Wedding. From there Boyd moved to Los Angeles in 2005 to pursue acting. He landed many small roles in movies and TV shows including a recurring role on ABC’s General Hospital.

“I was happy to be a working actor, but I didn’t really want to be doing soap operas and Ford commercials forever. I decided to take matters into my own hands and write the sort of movie I would want to be in.” That’s when he wrote the screenplay for a poker-based comedy called Hitting the Nuts.

Then the unexpected happened. “The Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati called me looking for a teaching pastor. At first I was honored, but not interested. However, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. So I called them back six months later and before I knew it, I was moving my family from L.A. to Cincinnati.” That was the summer of 2007.

Boyd showed up at his new pastorate with a half-finished movie in tow. “I told them that I really wanted the job, but that I had to finish this movie. It’s not a Christian movie or anything. It’s a relatively mainstream PG-13ish comedy about poker.” The church agreed that Boyd could finish the project over his vacation time. It took several years to complete, but Hitting the Nuts premiered on October 8, 2010 at the Cincinnati Film Festival, where it won the audience choice for Best Feature Film. It trailed that with another Best Feature Film win at the Derby City Film Festival in February. In short, the movie was not only finished, but became a recognized success.

The word of an award-winning poker movie leaked out to the international poker community, causing a recent burst of interest in the film. “I checked Google last week to find that there were hundreds of online articles written about the movie in 24 hours – many of them in places like Russia, Germany and Sweden. It seems like people all over the world want to see this movie. Which, of course, is a great thing for a producer to discover.”

Boyd and his company, Rebel Pilgrim Productions, have decided to self-distribute a limited amount of DVDs on the film’s website at Pre-orders for the April 15th release began last week.  “Our current strategy is to sell DVDs to the thousands of people who have been asking us for the movie. Then we’re going to take the data to a distributer and get this thing out to the world. I have no doubts it will be a success.”

It seems that Boyd isn’t slowing down anytime soon. He has two films in production now:  A drama, Fenced Off, is set to release later this year. And his biggest project to date is a romantic comedy called A Strange Brand of Happy starring Grammy Award winner Rebecca St. James. That movie shoots this fall in Cincinnati. As he says, “I moved from Hollywood to Ohio to become a pastor again. Turns out, it was the best career move I ever made as a filmmaker. I’m getting to do both of my dream jobs at once…in Cincinnati, a city I love. I’m a blessed guy.”

For more information on the movie visit the official site at

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hitting The Nuts DVD On Sale Now!

This is the press release page for Rebel Pilgrim Productions. If you are wanting to buy the Hitting the Nuts DVD or see clips from the movie, please go to the official site at

See latest press release in post below.

Monday, March 14, 2011

3/14/11 Poker Comedy Has Groundswell Support: Releases DVD


Joe Boyd
Rebel Pilgrim Productions


March 14, 2011

Poker Comedy Has Groundswell Support: Releases DVD

The independent poker-themed comedy Hitting the Nuts is going to be released on DVD April 15, 2011. You probably have never heard of it. But thousands of people have. The rumor in the poker community is that this could be the first good poker movie since Rounders. (To “hit the nuts” in a poker game is to hold the best possible hand in a given scenario.)

The story of Hitting the Nuts is the exact opposite of how Hollywood manufactures a blockbuster. No name actors. (They are all unknown improvisers pulled from NY, LA and Chicago comedy clubs.) No budget to speak of. (Less than $200,000 total.) No famous director. (Turns out the director is actually a pastor from Ohio.) So what gives?

“We made a ridiculous movie on purpose,” says Joe Boyd, the pastor turned director who also plays Ezekiel Yoder, an Amish farmer in the movie. (Did we mention that Pastor Boyd was once an amateur poker player in Las Vegas? The story behind the movie is almost as ridiculous as the movie itself.) “The poker community has been burnt by a series of unpopular, terrible movies over the last five years,” says Boyd. “I think people like this movie so much because it takes nothing seriously. It’s a complete silly farce. It’s like the movie Airplane…if Airplane was a fake documentary about poker.”

The movie has the feel of a documentary and is reminiscent of movies like This is Spinal Tap and Best in Show. It also has a Saturday Night Live vibe to the comedy, which makes sense considering the actors were pulled from the historically popular SNL farm systems of The Second City and The Groundlings. “It’s not exactly a typical indie art house movie,” says Boyd.

Which makes the film’s critical success even more unexpected. It has won the only two film festivals it has entered, taking home the Best Feature Film awards in the 2011 Derby City Film Festival and the 2010 Cincinnati International Film Festival.

So why isn’t this sleeping giant in theaters yet?

“We aren’t ready for theaters,” says Boyd. “I think it will get there. What we are attempting to do here only happens with a comedy every few years. We made a great movie with no money or name actors. It’s on its way to being a Napoleon Dynamite kind of success story. But it is a slow rise from the ground up.” With the film industry in relative chaos as it tries to transition from the traditional market to a more web-based digital delivery system, it is hard to know what to do with a movie like Hitting the Nuts. “In the old days distributers wanted a movie that had never been offered before. These days they want more of a sales track record. To be honest, we’ve turned down some bad deals to wait for a better one.”

Boyd and his company, Rebel Pilgrim Productions, have decided to self-distribute a limited amount of DVD’s on the film’s website at Pre-orders for the April 15th release begin March 16th.  “We’re going to sell a bunch of DVD’s to the thousands of people who have been asking us for the movie. Then we’re going to take the data to a distributer and get this thing out to the world. I have no doubts.” Boyd seems confident…as if he himself has “hit the nuts” on this one. Only time will tell, but at this trajectory, we wouldn’t bet against it.

For more information on the movie visit the official site at

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