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Filmmaker incorporates North MS into newest film

June 30, 2009
004Director Johnson Thomasson (furthest left) on set in Tupelo. Photo courtesy of Pat Rasberry, director of the Tupelo Film Commission.

I’ve been a fan of Johnson Thomasson’s work since last year when I got the chance to see his fun zombie flick, “Dust to Dust From the Blackest Dawn Chronicles.” When I heard through Sean Johnson at the Tupelo Film Festival that Thomasson was bringing his latest work – a “spec trailer” for a potential new film to Tupelo, I decided to chat with him a bit about what his newest project. Thomasson wrapped on filming in Tupelo on Saturday, also his birthday.

So you shot in New Orleans in May and June and now Tupelo. What
dictated the location choices?

Short answer: the story. The story takes place in El Paso, Texas and New Orleans, so in May we went on-location to both of those cities to shoot. This past week we shot locally because we were doing interior scenes and it was much easier for me to obtain interior scenes close to home where I have lots of friends. Pat Rasberry of the Tupelo Film Commission also helped me find two of my favorite spots in Tupelo.

Can you share with me a little about the story?

To start, I need to give you an idea of the type of project this is. This is a “spec trailer,” basically an extended movie preview that I will use to pitch my story to investors in the next year. The story revolves around Wes James, the eighteen year old son of a DEA agent. Wes’s father testifies in court against the leader of the Navarro Cartel, the largest drug cartel in the world. Soon after the trial, he is murdered. Wes then gets hold of his father’s information and begins conducting his own investigation. Before long, he finds himself caught in the middle of the deadly, international drug war.

What’s next for the film now that you’ve wrapped on the trailer?

Our goal is to use this film as a funding tool. I will spend the next year writing the feature script, and next summer I plan to shop the project around using the script and trailer as a marketing package. I won’t be the first one to go this route for financing. One recent film that comes to mind is The Mutant Chronicles. It received funding after the filmmakers created a ten minute “mood piece” to pitch the project.

The last film you created was Dust to Dust – how does this compare?

World’s apart. Dust to Dust was a fun project. It was never intended to be marketable or win awards, but just to get a few laughs and give me and my fellow filmmakers a chance to practice our craft. We also had no budget when we made Dust to Dust. Zero. This project, which we’ve been calling the Drug War Trailer, is a giant leap in production value for us. It cost $18,000 to make and involved locations in three states. And it is intended to be marketable.

How have you obtained the funding and from where?

The money to complete this project came from friends and family. I have been so blessed to have friends and parents and extended family that believe in me. They didn’t just offer donations, however. Their contributions are investments. If this project ultimately profits, so will they.

Who is your crew and cast?

Justin Maynard of Tupelo was my Director of Photography and camera operator. Justin is so professional and so talented. It was an awesome opportunity to work with him.

Michael Williams, recent graduate of film school at USM, was my First Assistant Camera. Michael did an incredible job and went way above and beyond the job description of a 1st AC.

Austin Haley and John Wee of Tupelo provided most of our production equipment. Austin also acted in the film.

Cameron Spann, my best friend and partner in crime, starred in the film.

We had several local New Orleans actors: Jennifer Schemke, Lauren Allen, Escalante Lundy, and Tim Bellow.

We also got several great actors through the Lisa Lax Agency in Memphis. Cesar Giraldo, Miguel Gomez, and Ernie Salera were all great.

Are you still based in Mississippi?

I will be finishing my degree in Computer Science at Mississippi State in December 2010. My family lives in College Station, TX so that’s where I spend holidays and summers.

How did the project get started and when?

This story is something that has been incubating in my brain for several years. I would really like to do the feature film and I think it has the chance to be really successful, but I have to start small. This spring I decided it was time to try. My original plan was to do a long short film that was kind of the middle act of the feature story, but Micah Haley of the New Orleans Film Commission wisely persuaded me to try a trailer instead.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 1, 2009 9:02 am

    This was a really great read, I am very glad I came across your site.


  1. Posts about the Drug Cartels as of June 30, 2009 | EL CHUCO TIMES

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