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Ole Miss grad turns love for film into business

August 20, 2009

OFF - Eric Case
Nick Case was always a movie fan. But after obtaining his degree in marketing from the University of Mississippi in 2001, he evolved from fan to creator of the thing he loved.

“Movies were a big part of my childhood growing up from watching “Star Wars, “E.T.”, “Back to the Future,” “Indiana Jones.” My family and I watched a lot of movies and that love has always been there for me,” Case said.

But growing up in the South, Case never thought that filmmaking was a real career option. During his junior year at Ole Miss, he began to change his mind.

Wanting to gain more experience, he heard about a film in 2002 being made in Memphis, “21 Grams.”
“I was a big fan of Alejandro’s film and was immediately interested,” Case said. “Over the next several weeks, more information came in that Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro and Naomi Watts were in the film and I knew I had to do what I can do get a job on the movie. One of my best friends, Alex Blagg was working as a location scout at the time and eventually as a production assistant.”

Blagg chose to return to college and in doing so offered Case to take over for him.

“That shoot was an intense one and especially for my first production job, but I learned so much and that experience drove it home for me that I wanted to pursue filmmaking as a career and wanted to be a producer,” Case said.

After the film, Case lived in Memphis to save money before moving to Los Angeles for a year, he felt ready to move. He packed his belongings in a U-Haul and with no job lined up, moved to L.A. and begin searching for a job. He found a production assistant position at a TV show and eventually met filmmaker Cam Archer.

“He had a script “Wild Tigers I have Known” that he took to the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab and had Gus Van Sant involved as an Executive Producer,” Case said. “I did favors for him and helped him for the next several months in hopes he would ask me to work on the film and eventually he asked me to help produce the film.”

Case helped with the 18-day shoot in Santa Cruz, Calif. Eventually the film premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and was then nominate for an Independent Spirit award before getting theatrical distribution through IFC films.

Case spent five years in L.A. before deciding to return temporarily to Memphis.

“After a week or so, I got bored so I started doing research on who was making films in Memphis and doing interesting work. I came across Kentucker Audley and cold-called him introducing myself,” Case said.

Audley had made a film “Team Picture” that Case found interesting and Audley had seen “Wild Tigers” and was interested in meeting with Case. The two decided to join forces and are currently working on Audley’s newest film, “Open Five.”

After meeting with Audley, Case began meeting other filmmakers in Memphis who all said that a full-time producer was needed for the community.

What emerged was Case’s new company, Paper Moon Films, along with friend Ryan Watt. an independent film production company dedicated to producing local and southern feature films. The company works with filmmakers from script development and financing to post-production and distribution strategy. The company is working on three low-budget features, including Audley’s “Open Five,” “Woman’s Picture” by Brian Pera and starring Amy LaVere and “The Romance of Loneliness,” by Sarah Ledbetter and Matteo Servente.

“What we offer is a full service commitment from the very early stages all the way to the film is released,” Case said. “What we offer as a company hasn’t been done in Memphis in the way that we are working with multiple filmmakers and we are creative producers that are involved every step of the way.”

Case said that filmmakers in Memphis were working on their own to create their low-budget projects out of necessity but that his company hopes to help them focus on the creative side.
“It’s incredibly admirable what they were able to accomplish under those constraints and with very low budgets. We take those producer duties and responsibilities off the filmmakers’ shoulders such as financing, legal work, scheduling, budgeting so they can concentrate on the creative aspects of making their films,” Case said. “We’re not trying to change any of these filmmakers style, approach or technique but rather are supporting that and hoping to build on what they’ve accomplished in the past and grow as filmmakers.”

– As published in the Oxford Town

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