Thursday, April 16, 2009

Douglas Bransom: A Boy To Remember and Movie Made by His Father Dedicated to His Love For Trains

Dear Blogging Friends, I want you to know about this dear boy named Douglas Bransom. I never got to meet Douglas, but wish I had. He was seven years old when he was killed in an accident.

He was the age that my own son Garrett is right now. I recently found out about Douglas, and the grieving his parents and sisters are going through right now. My sincere sympathy goes out to you, Phil and Cheryl, over the loss of your precious seven year old boy.
“Douglas was a peacekeeper,” This was said about Douglas by parents whose children attended school with Douglas-- ‘our son was really struggling when he came into first grade and wasn’t making friends. And one day he came home and said, I have a new friend. His name is Douglas.’”
According to his parents, Phil and Cheryl, he was a “surprise,” Phil said, as he and his wife were in their 40s with older children, when he was born. Douglas surprised everyone around him in his short life. His love for dinosaurs and trains and compassion for others amazed his family.

In May 2006, 7-year-old Douglas was walking on the sidewalk as he returned home when he was hit by a neighbor’s large SUV. The incident was a front-over, where he was struck with the front of the car. Phil and Cheryl maintain contact with this neighbor, who is working on a project to have SUVs equipped with mirrors so the driver can see down below in front and back.
Douglas with sisters Krista and Jaimie a year and a half before he died.
The community showed their love and encouragement to Douglas' family.
Douglas loved red balloons. Many were released at his funeral. Douglas' grave-site.

Although I have not seen Douglas' parents in years, I remember them as our chaperons on a church bus 30 years ago. They were newlyweds. We thought they were awesome and cool. These two, Phil and Cheryl, have the same attitude as Job in the Bible. They still love the Lord even after this great loss and sorrow. Nobody knows the pain they are feeling unless they have lost a child. Pacific West Bank in West Linn began the Douglas Bransom Memorial Scholarship Fund in 2006, awarding a $6,000 gift each year to West Linn High School students who showed strength academically, well-rounded school involvement, compassion for others and community outreach, Bransom said. Jamie, their 2nd daughter, graduated just a week after Douglas' death so the committee wanted to give her the first scholarship award.
Heather, the 2nd recipient of the Douglas Memorial Scholarship award.
Douglas' dad, Phil, a producer for 18 years, was just beginning work on his first full-length film titled “Train Master” about kids and trains, when Douglas died. The theme was inspired by his son, who loved trains. After nine months on hold, Phil Bransom spent July filming the movie, adding elements into the film in memory of Douglas. Capturing moments Throughout Phil Bransom’s career – which has included such projects as film equipment rentals, Bowflex, Honda and Red Lion commercials, infomercials for Jane Fonda, a hit craft show on PBS and a weekly show on an NBC affiliate station back East – he knew he always wanted to write and direct a film. Bransom often traveled with Douglas to Northwest Portland while he dropped off tapes for PBS. On the way back they’d stop at the freight yards near the Fremont Bridge to watch the trains. “(Douglas) started talking about how he wanted to get on one of the engines. I said, ‘by yourself?’ and he said, ‘no, I think I’d like to take some of my friends,’” Bransom re-enacted the conversation with his son. “I said (to Douglas), ‘what would happen if you accidentally got it started and it rolled out of the yard?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ And that was the seed for this film.” “Train Master” is the tale of a grandfather, Jeremiah, who works for Western Railroad in the Northwest. His two grandchildren, Thomas and Sarah, share his passion for trains. A wealthy heir to a railroad line on the East Coast, named Brett, purchases Western Railroad and kicks Jeremiah out of a job, leading him to despair. When Brett’s 9-year-old son, Thomas and Sarah – along with a few friends – end up on a runaway train, the grown men are forced to make amends and strategize a solution to save the kids. When filming began last year, Bransom was able to set up his 30-person crew and boxcars near the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant along the Columbia River and use its implosion as a special effect for this film. “Now we had a ticking clock, kids on a runaway train, cooling tower that’s imploded, damaged tracks and we had to get the train stopped,” Bransom said. “From there we developed the whole story line.” Geared towards children ages 3 to 9, the film tells of an adventure between friends, family and the value of respecting others. “It’s not about repairing a train,” Bransom said.
Awards Winner: Award of Excellence, Feature Film Accolade, Competition Festivals, Backlot Film Festival, Fairhope Film Festival, Big Island Film Festival KIDS FIRST! Film Festival , Professional Affiliations "every film that is accepted has been rigorously screened by
our curators and included because we feel it represents the best of what's available for your family's viewing" Ranny Levy, President, Coalition for Quality Children's Media.July 8, 2008: Accolade Review - Train Master, independent filmmaker Phil Bransom’s beautifully touching family movie, proves that in this day of high-tech, digital, special-effects-ridden, mega blockbusters, a wholesome, character-driven film can still rivet an audience with good old-fashioned values. And that’s not all. Train Master pulls together all the Capra-esque
good versus evil, conflict and resolution, and spices it up with heart-stopping excitement and suspense, worthy of any major theatrical release. The film’s byline says it all: It’s not about rebuilding a locomotive; it’s about rebuilding relationships. Train Master was recently awarded the
Dove Foundation Seal of Approval.
Douglas was a frequent visitor to West Linn High School events and was crown bearer for the 2006 May Day event, just weeks before he died. A wall within the library at Willamette Primary is set to become a 3-D reading nook in the shape of a dinosaur and called “Douglasaurus,” after Douglas.

“Douglas came unexpectedly,” Phil Bransom said, “and he left unexpectedly.” For more information about Phil Bransom, write him an email at or call him at 503-803-8105. Train Master is dedicated to the life of Douglas Steven Bransom. His passion for life included loving God, family, trains and dinosaurs. This film was inspired by a story we shared about a runaway engine with children on board.

Parents with small children or grandchildren, "Train Master" will be available at Hollywood Video for rent and can be purchased at Amazon online.
Note-- most of the material written on this post was taken from the Train Master MySpace

Mothers with young children please check the Focus On the Family web site called Plugged In. This site, reviews movies for families and gives a Christian perspective on these films. I'm asking this request of you blogging friends, because the next three weeks are very critical for the movie to be publicized. The more volume of people requesting a review of this film will possibly get it reviewed. Although Train Master just won the prominent Dove Award, which is a huge honor, it is still relatively unknown. If Plugged In reviews it, that will put it in the lime-light for families to hear about. The more people who request it, the better. Thank you and may God bless you dear blogger friends, and may God bless this movie in a huge way, Phil and Cheryl and family. "The Spirit of the Lord is on me ..and He provides for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor." Isaiah 61:1-3


Debra said...

What a heart wrenching story! It's so sad that Douglas' little life was taken so abruptly, but his memory can live on in this movie, that was his idea. I will certainly check out the Focus on the Family Website. Thanks for sharing this touching story with us and making us aware of a wonderful movie with family values.

luvmy4sons said...

Thank you for sharing Douglas's story. It is gut wrenching. I can only just imagine his parent's grief. It warms the heart to see the good that God has worked through this life He shared with us only briefly. It tears so at my mother's heart...and tears flow as I write. God bless you today Kathi. And may God continue to comfort and bless his parents.

Heather said...

thank you for sharing this story. i'm going to make sure i tell everyone about this movie.

Jan Parrish said...

I cannot even imagine the pain and grief. We almost lost our son in 2001 when he was hit by a car while riding his bike to school. He broke his neck. A smaller teen would have been killed. God spared him and he was married in June of 2007.

What a testimony that his parents are able to move forward and honor his memory in such a wonderful way.

Sharon said...

This story is just so sad and tragic. I am so happy that they have the joy of knowing they will see sweet Douglas again one day. And I am thankful that they have had the Lord with them through it all. How wonderful that they are taking a tradgedy and using it to further the Kingdom of Christ.

Love, Sharon

Sondra said...

Thanks for sharing this touching story. Very moving.

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Deanna said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. You have a very inspirational blog and will come back often :)

Brenna D. said...

I cannot imagine losing my only child. What an inspiration this couple/family is.

Anonymous said...

Just saw this movie on Netflix,I love trains and am a softy for happy endings. Parts of this movie were almost documentary, meaning realistic. There's a great message in the movie and a fabulous tribute to a litle boy...

Anonymous said...

It is not necessary to post my comments, but you can if you choose to. please take off this first paragraph if you do (start after the string of ++++ ). I was actually directing these to the family, not to the other visitors to your site.


I just saw Trainmaster on one of the Encore channels, early in the morning of Thursday, July 11, 2013.

I'm one of those people who read all of the credits.....

When i saw the dedication to a "Douglas Steven Bransom", i thought that might be the grandfather (the dates of his life were not on the screen long enough for me to read them), so I searched Google for "Trainmaster Bransom". After a couple of misdirections, i found this website.

Before that, i had noticed the name Bransom several times in the credits, with different first names - obviously the family played several parts in this film, in addition to Phil being the Producer.

I had no idea till i found your website that Douglas was only 7.

My wife & I offer you our sympathy. We had a potential granddaughter on the way, who would now be 5, but she was stillborn.

I really like your website, just as i liked the film. i was hoping that there might be a book about Douglas, or one that follows the film (such as those written by Tom Clancy, which are then made into movies). If you could let me know, i would like to buy a copy.

I would even pay extra for a copy that's signed by members of Douglas's family.

When we can, we will make a donation to the scholarship fund, but i am currently out-of-work...

Thanks for demonstrating your courage & producing this fine film.




Please STOP here for the blog.

RJC stands for Richard Coles. My wife is Evelyn.

we can be reached at

If you write, please include the name Bransom in the subject line. My spam filter is quite strong, but if your name is in the Subj: line, i can make the filter pass it.

Thanks again......

And "be of good cheer, for [He has] overcome the world"


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