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‘Where I Begin’ – How can you not be excited?

August 5, 2010
OXFORD TOWN — It’s been three months of non-stop pre-production work for me and Thomas L. Phillips, director of the independent drama “Where I Begin” that we co-wrote and co-produced. Lots of people have asked if we are excited and, well, yes, we are – but also mostly just anxious and tired. That is the part you don’t often hear much about. You meet filmmakers at a film festival or hear or see an interview with a filmmaker where they are excited, but it’s not always a mad rush of energy and love for the project. Like anything you love, sometimes it is work. Sometimes it is exhausting. Sometimes it is maddening. But you keep on, because it is your love, your baby.
A film creates a strange sphere of a new life for you. While working on it, everything else outside of it is sort of hazy and not quite as important. Your single-minded focus on the project drives you to keep going, but also can cause quite the crash when it comes time to pay bills or do laundry or, God forbid, grocery shop. Filmmaking may be just about the most dangerous drug there is. I can already envision the next five I want to make.
I thought the other day just how fast this project has developed. Thomas e-mailed me on May 5 asking to take a look at the first act of a script and, somehow, in only three months, we’ve started filming — beginning today. In three months, everything in life has changed. None of it would happen if situations hadn’t brought Thomas to Oxford so the team could come together in just the perfect way that it has. Oxford has opened its arms to the film and to Thomas, and it is wonderful to get to play a part in creating this project in my home.
Since May we have created an entire new world and people that we have come to care about. We have revised the script at least 50 times. Since a month ago, we have also hired a full crew to help make the film, including Tupelo filmmaker John Wee as our director of photography and Oxford’s own Daniel Morrow as a production assistant as well as numerous other crew from Mississippi and Kentucky.
We have auditioned well over 250 people for the lead roles and hired extras for certain days of the project. We have met with locations throughout North Mississippi and developed amazing partnerships with great local business owners. We have raised funds. We have broken down the props list. We have figured out the catering menu for each day and who has what allergy. We have bought batteries, hard drives, sound equipment and so on. We have found housing for over 16 people who are helping us make this project.
We have had production meetings and began rolling in the cast this week. And now, today, I get to step back and watch as Thomas takes over as director and takes our words that we wrote into a moving image. With all that happening, how can you not be excited?
We will be updating daily from the set and weekly from this column and hope you can join along in our journey. Visit http://whereibeginmovie.com for more details and to read about the cast and crew of the film.
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