"The only proven violent overthrow of a government in U.S. History."
WILMINGTON, NC, 1898: A young child named WILLIE and his tenacious father, MONROE, struggle to survive against the mounting white supremacy campaign led by the silver-tongued orator, ALFRED WADDELL. Waddell seeks to disenfranchise the prosperous black community and overthrow the city's biracial leadership. The insurrection and massacre, known as THE 1898 WILMINGTON RACE RIOT, became the only proven violent overthrow of a government in United States history.
"The first successful recreation of the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot on motion picture film."
In the fall of 2007, after two years of research and writing, Nelson and his producing partner, Brendon Murphy, began pre-production on The Red Cape. "The first massive piece of the puzzle was determining how on earth we were going to recreate the burning of the black-owned newspaper building, The Daily Record." They learned that the site where the newspaper building once stood is now a parking lot for a church that existed at the time (though much of the church was rebuilt after a fire in 1944). Although Nelson was just 21 at the time, the church, the City Office, the Police Department, and the Fire Department all agreed to let he and Brendon construct a set and burn it on the exact location where The Daily Record once stood.
The set was built in sections and transported to Wilmington for assembly by the local set builders at JONCO. Seasoned Special Effects Supervisor Will Purcell, whose credits include Home Alone and The Hunger Games, joined the production to perform a controlled burn on the set. Cameras were rolling by March 2008. The production included period clothing, weaponry, horses, pyrotechnic effects, hundreds of digital effects, two live orchestras, and the efforts of over 350 dedicated actors, extras, musicians, and crew all committed to making this piece of history come back to life. The Red Cape marks the first successful recreation of the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot on motion picture film.
"A crucial piece of Civil Rights History that had been buried for generations."
In 2005, Nelson Oliver was walking along the Cape Fear River in downtown Wilmington when a friend mentioned that a large race riot had occurred in the city in the 1800s, and that black residents were murdered and thrown into the river. Many who survived the violence lost their jobs, their homes, and were forcefully exiled from the city. Being a North Carolina native with a significant interest in history, Nelson was shocked that he had never heard of this event.
The state of North Carolina released a thorough investigative report on the riot the following year, uncovering a crucial piece of Civil Rights History that had been buried for generations. The full report is available HERE.
After reading hundreds of pages of the report, Nelson was irreversibly compelled to inform people of this little-known event. "Our objective from the beginning was to create an intense and emotionally engaging educational experience that would invite and inspire its viewers to share what they had learned with others," the director stated.