Where did you grow up and go to school?
I grew up first in Los Angeles, California then San Diego, spent some time in Minnesota and Atlanta before going back to California. In 2002, I settled in Mississippi and never looked back.
At what moment did you discover an interest in working in Film/ TV?
While in college in San Diego I was interested in studying film theory and criticism but I didn’t think of working on my own films until moving to Mississippi.
At what point did you realize you could take steps to pursue your dream from Mississippi?
At the Oxford Film Festival talking with filmmakers who encouraged me to stop making excuses and jump into it.
What type of training have you had and where?
I studied film as a minor in college but did not get any practical training or experience until volunteering to work on many sets to learn the craft and I am still learning it. I have been lucky to work with some very talented filmmakers in this state and that has helped me learn so much. Also, being a screener for the Oxford Film Festival was a lot of my training, as I watched hundreds of films each year and learned more about filmmaking through that more than anything!
What was your first Film/TV job?
I co-wrote and helped produce a feature film called “Where I Begin” in 2011.
Are you working on any current/recent projects?
I am in post-production on a feature documentary called “I Didn’t Do It”.
What has been the most surprising thing about working in the film industry?
The generosity of people who open up their homes or businesses to film, donate to your movies or support you. That has kept me working and living in the south.
Who has been an influence on your career and why?
Several people have influenced me. Filmmaker Don Black is the one who encouraged me to just start making films. Producers Hudson Hickman and Connie Hoy have both been amazing role models, as has Brunson Green. Watching them work both in and out of the state and make an impact with their projects is inspiring.
How does being a Mississippian help you stand out in our industry?
On the local level it helps because a crew can come in from elsewhere, but I know the back roads and locations and cast and crew better than someone from out of town. I can serve as a practical resource for a crew. It almost is a cost saver to hire local because I do not need to spend days finding a location. Once you describe it, I likely already know several options.
If you could create a scene built around one location in Mississippi, where would that be and why?
I’ve always wanted to create something about the origin of the teddy bear in Onward, MS. The idea that the teddy bear was created here in Mississippi is something I wish everyone knew about.
Favorite moment on set or with a project?
My favorite moment on set was on the first project I was part of, “Where I Begin.” The script was co-written but one scene in particular I wrote completely and it was the most honest thing I had written. I was nervous about seeing the actress handle it. In every single take Cindy Hogan gave this heart wrenching performance, tears rolled down my eyes because my words were coming to life in such a beautiful way. That moment definitely sealed the deal for me to want to make movies forever.
What would you say to convince/encourage a producer to bring their project to Mississippi?
We have great incentives and great crew working here, not to mention the varied locations. Personally, what I love about filming in this state is the excitement and support from people that are not in the industry. People want you to film at their locations, they want to take part as an extra, they love the process of filmmaking. I find in some places, people can get burnt out on filmmaking and just want to cash in on your project. Here, people genuinely want to support you and watch your project succeed.
What do you do when you’re not working on a film set (other jobs, hobbies, etc.)?
I run the Oxford Film festival full time year round and it is so rewarding to remain within the film industry all the time this way. I also serve as the president of the Mississippi Film & Video Alliance where we provide grants to filmmakers each year in the state. So my year round goal is to show great movies but then also help people in the state make movies. The more of us with access to equipment and funds to tell our stories, the better.
What are your hopes for the film industry in MS?
I hope to see more focus at the high school and college level on crew training. With both of these we could easily compete with Atlanta and New Orleans. Films like “Big Significant” show that you can use the state as numerous locations. But more so, I hope to see film majors at our colleges choose to stay in the state and tell their stories.
What’s your advice for someone looking to break into the film business?
Jump in, volunteer, learn on the job. Don’t be afraid to try anything. Most of my friends that work steadily in this industry learn as they go and keep jumping in and trying. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you aren’t willing to volunteer to be a PA or stretch yourself to try new things to work on a set, then you won’t succeed. It all comes down to passion and determination. I see a lot of people, and I was one that said, oh someday I will become a filmmaker. But, I want to study it first, or I am coming up with ideas, or I just don’t know how to get hired. Just jump in. Don’t know how to get a paid job? Volunteer to work for free on a set. Learn the craft.
How can people find/reach you?
I am available at email@example.com anytime!