Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. — who’ve been dubbed the West Memphis Three — were released from prison on Friday after serving 18 years as the result of what many felt was a wrongful 1994 murder conviction.

Their startlingly sudden freedom had an especially profound impact on filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. The pair made two award-winning HBO documentaries about the case, ‘Paradise Lost’ and ‘Paradise Lost 2,’  and are working on a third — with a much happier ending than originally planned.

The series of documentaries is largely credited with bringing worldwide attention to the West Memphis Three’s ordeal, and led to celebrities such as Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, actor Johnny Depp, Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines, and Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson lending their voices, time and money to efforts to get the men released.

“What better gift to a filmmaker than to see all this work come out like this. It’s an amazing moment,” Berlinger said.

The third installment of the ‘Paradise Lost’ films was originally intended for a November premiere on HBO, but has now been pushed back to January and will have a limited run in movie theaters later this year instead, making it eligible for an Academy Award.

Another film, based on the 2003 book ‘Devil’s Knot,’ is also in production with a shooting date scheduled for next spring. Writers began working on it in 2006, and rewrites are currently underway.

See a preview of ‘Paradise Lost 3′ below.


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