The Parachute Man
The man. The inventor. The legend.
Jim Deist devoted his life to motorsports in a non-traditional way. Rather than committing himself to the competition, he gave his all to the racers and spectators of the sport. He used his ingenuity and gift of engineering to design and manufacture safety equipment to be used by racers, but which ultimately served every modern industry and are still utilized. It has been said that without Jim, drag racing simply wouldn't exist today. A man of God, family, and motorsports, his selfless passion was an inspiration to all who knew him.
A Limited Series.
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The story will be told using over 40 never seen before interviews; even a 2 hour interview with Jim Deist, along with reenactments of critical historical events in Jim's life. These interviews took over 3 decades to compile and below are just four of the people that knew him best.
LIST OF THE 6 EPISODE SEASON
Spending much of his childhood tinkering at his father’s gas station and garage, it is no wonder that Jim Deist grew up to become an inventor. Paired with his deep compassion for all people, it was a recipe for success for the Deist Safety legacy. Jim was pained every time he saw a fellow racer emerge from a crash injured and heartbroken when they never emerged at all. He vowed to do all he could to prevent as much suffering as possible for as long as he was on this Earth. His dedication allowed him to build a successful family business. Jim Deist became synonymous with safety for inventions such as drag chutes, the first firesuit, tree savers, arm restraints, the first tow straps, and the 5 point harness, which is still used today. Jim wasn’t concerned who got credit for the invention, just saving lives.
THE PARACHUTE MAN
In 1955, shortly after the National Hot Rod Association was formed to govern the rules of the growing popular sport of drag racing, Jim Deist was working for Irving Air Chutes. A man approached and asked if Jim thought his dragster could be stopped by a parachute. Irving Air Chutes had no desire to take on such a project, but gave Jim the approval to pursue the matter. They even allowed Jim to use scrap material, that would otherwise have been thrown away. Jim set to work and to the shock of the spectators, a chute blossomed from the back of the dragster and it came to a stop. There was no rollover, no crash, no crew rushing to see if the driver survived, all very common occurrences in drag racing up to that point. Through trial and error and sheer determination, Jim had done it; he revolutionized motorsports forever.
THE FIRE SUIT
Norris Abbott (1958), Dave DeLangton (1955), and Graden Miller (1957) lost their lives doing what they loved, building and racing their hot rods on the drag strips of California and Oklahoma, but there is one detail of their deaths that is unique to their stories; their deaths were all due to fire related injuries. A dragster or funny car can catch fire for a number of reasons: fuel lines breaking, mechanical failure, electrical problems, or from the impact of a crash, just to name a few. If a driver survived their vehicle fire, the painful burns would take months to heal and sometimes they would lose mobility of whatever part of their body was burned. Jim Deist recognized that something needed to be done. With the help of his mother, the first ever firesuit was sewn together. This invention didn’t just change motorsports, but the entire entertainment industry.
MICKEY & TRUDY THOMPSON
In 1988, Mickey Thompson and his wife Trudy were savagely murdered, execution style, at their home in Bradbury, California. Their murder went unsolved until 2001. It would be another six years before the man who orchestrated their murders, a former business partner named Michael Goodwin, would be brought to justice for the crimes. But, long before their home in the canyon had become the site of so much pain and controversy, Jim only knew it as the home of one of his greatest friends. The two spent much of their time on the Bonneville Salt Flats racing, always trying to top their last record. In 1960, Mickey Thompson set the new land speed record with his Challenger 1, becoming an international sensation, and Jim was there as part of the team. The Bonneville Salt Flats had become like a second home to Jim, Mickey, Ky, and other members of the racing community. Jim spoke fondly of his dear friend and the memories they shared.
DEIST TO DJ SAFETY
Family dynamics play a role in every business and Deist Safety was no exception to this rule. Jim Deist started his business from the scraps off of the shop room floor and built an empire from those scraps, but the growing need for safety equipment to be delivered at dragster speeds posed a challenge for Jim Deist. He struggled to meet the deadlines on his own. His family saw those struggles firsthand, particularly his daughter Dee and son-in-law Joe, who worked the front-line for Jim for several years. Joe decided to take what he had learned from Jim and go into business for himself, but would there be room in the industry for both of them and how would this decision affect the family?
It is rare to have encountered a person who could be so many things to so many different people, but that is exactly what Jim Deist was. Those who knew him recount fond memories, each one unique, some seeming like an entirely different person altogether. From his colleagues, to his racing buddies, family, close friends, his pastor, or people who met him only for a moment, they all have very different stories to tell. Jim let people be who they were and he didn't judge them. He offered guidance, love, and acceptance because at his core, the only thing he cared about was making sure everyone who crossed his path in any way walked away safely and was able to return to their loved ones. He was truly an inspiration of a man and those who knew him were all better for it. He sought no glory or fame. He was a humble man who, without a doubt, changed the world.
Here are the professionals behind the scenes.
Bob Nielsen is a highly sought after Video Editor/Videographer, Camera-man, Director, and Producer for over 36 years. He has an NHRA Drag Racing Competition license, is the VP of Racers Under the Son (RUTS, a Christian Motorcycle Off-Road Club), and a member of Racers for Christ.
JR Ybarra has over 20 years of experience in video production and cinematography. He served as supervisor of video media services for the Fontana Unified School District, as well as having taught video production through the East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupation Program.
Barry Seybert's background combines 25 years of video production overlaid with 15 years of broadcast equipment sales and rentals. His production side includes working indie projects to Hollywood blockbuster features and network television and is very diverse and experienced in many facets of the production and post production workflow
Danny Alaniz, a Los Angeles based cinematographer has over 20 years of industry experience in the Camera Department. He has a strong work ethic and prides himself on knowing how to lead a crew. Mixing handheld and dolly flow with maintaining precise composition, he has developed his own signature style. Danny's camera operating is a true art.
April Seering is an independent writer, songwriter, and inventor. Finding solace in her art, she often spends her evenings etching glass by hand, carving the likeness of people or wildlife onto frames and then gifting them to those she has etched. Professionally, she leans heavily in the tech industry, as she enjoys the ever changing environment and that there is always something new to learn.
Tess Pelias is an Art Director, Production Designer, and Art Department Coordinator. She received her BFA in theatre at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as completed a semester at The Gaiety School of Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. She prides herself on her unique and creative style, as well as her exuberant personality.
Dan J. Eumurian
Dan Eumurian is a Registered Piano Technician in The Piano Technicians Guild, Inc., a music teacher, and a performing musician. He holds a master’s degree in theology from Wheaton College Graduate School and has written songs, poems, musical plays, jingles, lyrics, parodies, stories, and has his own YouTube channel.
Donald R. Zuhlke Jr.
Donald R. Zuhlke Jr. is an American author of children's books and an amateur historian. His first published book was in 2018, Meet the Family - The Adventures of Frederick, His Family and Friends. There are more books in this series that are waiting to be published. Don is a husband, father, and proud grandfather. He and his wife were wed in 1992.
HOW THE PROJECT WORKS
The Parachute Man started as a dream of filmmaker Bob Nielsen and now he needs your help to make this project a reality.
Hometown Stream is a unique crowd funding platform that uses the strength of many to produce its content. It is our vision to inspire thousands of people to work together to achieve the goal of producing this amazing series telling the stories and accomplishments of Jim Deist. By subscribing, you not only help to fund this project, but you gain access to Hometown's full library of content.
We want to reward your loyalty while you wait for The Parachute Man to be produced. Hometown Stream's monthly membership plan starts at $9.99 and NEVER goes up as long as you keep your membership. Join us to be a part of this amazing project. If you can afford it, join the annual membership, this will get us the money to finish this project much faster. We appreciate your support.
What is the Show About?
The Parachute Man will be a limited series consisting of 6 episodes that takes the viewer through the inspirational personal and professional life of Jim Deist, told by those who knew him best. The series will dive into several of his inventions, his contributions to motorsports, and his family life and drama.
Who Created The Parachute Man?
The Parachute Man is a project started by Bob Nielsen. Bob was a personal, close friend of Jim Deist and has thought about telling Jim's story for a long time. The time is now.
How can I support the production of The Parachute Man?
The Parachute Man has been picked up by Hometown Stream, a streaming service that offers crowdfunding for creators. By purchasing either a monthly ($9.99) or annual ($109.88) memberships to Hometown Stream, you not only help bring The Parachute Man to the screen faster, but you also get access to Hometown Stream's full library of content.
When will The Parachute Man be available?
We are hoping to complete production and be streaming The Parachute Man by fall of 2023. A lot of footage has been filmed, but there is still much to be done!