Elevate, Develop, and Network. Those are three words that describe the film industry and they just happen to be the name of the conference that was held on February 14th in the Two Mississippi Museum’s auditorium.
The day-long event had over 150 registrants from across the state to discuss a variety of topics including FAA safety regulations for UAS drone camera operators, panel discussions with film producers associated with The Sound & The Fury to Christmas in Mississippi and special presentations by Octavia Spencer and Tate Taylor from the set of Ma currently filming in Natchez and Ben and Erin Napier of HGTV’s Hometown who just announced filming of Season 3 will begin soon. Additionally, there were panels focused on growing the local crew workforce and local filmmakers Astin Rocks (Jackson), Michael Williams (West Point), and Miles Doleac (Hattiesburg) discussed their leap into producing feature-length films in their local communities. Film festivals and community colleges with film and media programs from around the state were in attendance to meet with filmmakers and emerging storytellers.
Ward Emling who retired after 30 years as the director of the Mississippi Film Office was acknowledged and honored by Mississippi Film Alliance President Melanie Addington on behalf of the state’s film industry crew and cast workers.
Addington opened the event by announcing the rebranding and expansion of the Mississippi Film and Video Alliance. The organization has successfully provided grants for filmmakers and served as a fiscal agent for two decades but will launch its new Friends of Mississippi Film Alliance soon to help raise more funds for filmmaking in the state and to create a larger support network for those supportive of the film industry.
“Our goal today is to keep us growing as a statewide industry, to network and to create a unified voice to show our leaders that we are an industry and an important one,” Addington said in her opening remarks. “We are not Hollywood, we are Mississippi.”
John Norris and Hudson Hickman, both working producers in the state, were voted in as new members of the twelve person board of the Mississippi Film Alliance. Norris took a break from the set of Tate Taylor’s Ma to attend the event. Hickman along with fellow Mississippian Sam Haskell were recently nominated for an Emmy for Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love and is actively working to bring future productions to Mississippi.