Documentary was six years in the making…
Paintsville, KY — Finally, after two cancellations due to weather, the documentary film about legendary cave explorer Floyd Collins, premiered Friday, May 8, in Paintsville, KY at the historic Sipp Theater.
The film, six years in the making, tells the factual story of Floyd Collins, who explored and discovered several cave entrances which are part of Mammoth Cave National Park in Cave City, Kentucky.
On January 30, 1925, Floyd Collins found the entrance to a new cave. He was 55 ft below the surface when the passageway became very narrow. When he tried to crawl through the space, a loose rock fell, trapping Collins in the cave.
He was found not too long after the incident, and although rescuers could get to him, bringing food and water, they could not free him from the rock that pinned his leg.
Hours turned into days and the news of Collins’ predicament spread throughout the state. Reporters were at the site everyday and as the age of radio and film were emerging, news of the explorer’s plight soon was headlining papers around the country and beyond.
The situation turned into a media frenzy as the rescue site was filled with onlookers, reporters, curiosity seekers, as well as well wishers and those attempting to help.
Finally it was determined that Collins could possibly be freed by digging a shaft on the other side of the cave. By this time, he had been trapped in the cave for almost two weeks.
At some point, more loose rocks fell and Collins could no longer be heard. Finally after 17 days, rescuers were able to get to Floyd from another side of the cave.
Unfortunately he was not found alive. It was estimated Floyd Collins had been dead three days.
The Floyd Collins incident went on to be one of the biggest news stories of the 20th century and a legend in Kentucky.
A couple of local residents are actors in the movie which is directed by Michael Crisp. Cody Napier, 23, of Ft. Gay, WV plays the part of Homer Collins, Floyd’s Brother. John Raulerson (John Roy), 58, of Louisa, KY, is an extra in the film, as one of the locals at the rescue site.
Cody Napier is a 2010 graduate of Tolsia High School and works as a Millwright for Local Union 1076. He has been involved in some sort of entertainment since childhood, including playing drums and doing impressions. Napier says he has always wanted to pursue acting and ‘The Death Of Floyd Collins’ opened up the door to do a couple other films, although the release dates are not yet known.
John Roy Raulerson, originally from Florida, has been a resident of Louisa for almost 20 years. He is a musician and the owner/operator of Sunrize Productions.
Raulerson serves on the Septembefest Board and is very involved with the community. He said he answered the ad for extras in the movie cause he “thought it would be fun.”
The film cast and crew were present at Friday night’s showing and were available to talk with folks who came to see the film; which turned out to be a large crowd.
The tagline of the film was “some people are remembered for the way they lived, occasionally they’re remembered for the way they died.” Director Michael Crisp said this line set the stage for the new documentary that examines the peril of cave explorer, Floyd Collins.
Crisp, who also directed the documentary film ‘The Very Worst Thing,’ the story of the 1958 school bus disaster in Floyd County, KY, said “These events are what shape us as Kentuckians and people that appreciate history.”
Floyd Collins discovered Crystal Cave in 1917, part of the Mammoth Cave National Park which is Kentucky’s only national park and continues to be one of the state’s largest tourist attractions. His tombstone reads “The Greatest Cave Explorer Ever Known.”
A copy of ‘The Death of Floyd Collins’ can be purchased at amazon.com.