Porches and Private Eyes has finally hit the hometown of Brookhaven, Mississippi. With the premiere showing Saturday, September 3rd, 2016 and again at the first-ever Film Haven Film Festival on September 10th, the independent film has residents of Brookhaven eager to see the town on a big screen. Students from the Mississippi School of the Arts had a vested interest in the filming process, with onsite workers managing day-to-day activities. Elise McMurry, a 2016 vocal music program graduate, performs a lead role in the film as ‘Jenny Rose’.
The following is Aerial Adam’s perspective, guest writer and 2016 alumna of the Literary Arts program at Mississippi School of the Arts:
Back in the fall of 2015, Arizona filmmaker Travis Mills, visited in search of five eager prodigies to take on as interns for his upcoming film, Porches and Private Eyes. After interviews with several bright pupils and much deliberation with MSA executive director Mrs. Suzanne Hirsch, a decision was made.
Film Studio: Running Wild Films
Orchid Berch ’17, Kavin Gibbs ’16, Micaela Kostmayer ’16, A’mya Jones ’16, Jayda Ross ’16, and I received congratulatory emails from Ms. Hirsch days later informing us that we would be working with Running Wild Films during our break and that we’d hear more from Travis later.
I was ecstatic. I had never even imagined I’d be working on a movie set, especially not as a teenager, and I definitely didn’t imagine it would be so amazing.
Instead of Travis emailing us, his assistant director, Katie Hauer, sent us a “welcome” letter and a list of our positions. She also notified us of upcoming events—specifically, the meet-and-greet party.
Our first night was Friday at the meet-and-greet, which was absolutely great. I was nervous at first, seeing as though I hardly knew any of the cast/crew and I hardly talked to my classmates before going over. After Travis introduced me to a few people, I loosened up and flowed through the crowd like a social butterfly (which I’m not.)
As I mentioned before, we were all assigned different positions, and, even though we were in the same places at the same time, we also had different experiences with the production.
My position on set was Script Supervisor under Navid Sanati, one of the set producers. I stood at his side and pretty much took on whatever job needed to be done. I did a little grip/electric work, shot behind the scenes photos/videos, snapped shots of scenes, noted things for continuity purposes, attended to other crew members, called lines for actors, attended to actors, etc. Honestly, I am sure that it was the perfect job for me.
My peers also had pretty interesting jobs. Jayda was gifted as the second assistant director under Cotton Yancy; Kavin was the BTS photographer/videographer; Orchid got to be the set artist; A’mya loved working with costumes; and Micaela was assistant makeup and grip/electric hand.
Obviously, I expected that they enjoyed their positions, but to really grasp their experience, I decided to interview them.
When asked about their positions and details on the experience, Kavin responded: “BTS Photographer; shot bts clips and photos.”
Jayda replied: “Second Assistant Director under Cotton Yancy and Travis Mills. I worked on roundin’ up extras and advertising casting calls. I sent many, many, many, many, many emails to crew, potential extras, and actors. I made call sheets so that everyone knew where to be and when to be there each day.”
Orchid said: “I was an artist for the film. I sketched out scenes, actors and crew members to show a particular perspective and capture moments in the form of art.”
And A’mya answered: “Costume Designer/ Coordinator; I took care of all of the clothing for the production. I coordinated a system for keeping up with them and labeling them by scene. I was responsible for picking the patterns that would look nice on camera. Katie Hauer did a wonderful job assisting me.”
Another important thing about the internship is that it really impacted my future plans. Later in life, I plan to become a journalist/public speaker. Being able to work behind the scenes has given me insight on the work that I could do as a journalist, especially considering that I had to be pretty up close and personal with everyone on set. I have also learned to be more sociable and outgoing as a person.
Kavin, a theatre graduate, plans to work on making films and producing music. Because he is a visual and hands-on leaner, he has learned valuable directing tips, tricks, and hacks for his future career.
Jayda, a theatre graduate, plans to attain her BFA in Performance from the University of Southern Mississippi, and later pursue her Master’s in Arts Administration. She wants to direct live theatre and perform across the world. The internship has allowed her to make connections with people that she wouldn’t have otherwise met, and to gain more leadership and communication skills that she hopes to use with her own actors one day.
Orchid, a current visual student, wishes to pursue a double major in Acting and Illustration, combining her two passions and other talents for chances of better opportunities. She got a basic idea of what it was like to work behind the scenes, observed behaviors and actions of every person and studied how each individual did their job. She is very thankful for the director and crew’s patience with her and their allowing her to learn as much as she could on the days she attended.
A’mya, a theatre graduate, has begun her college career at the University of Mississippi. She is majoring in History or Political Science, with a minor in Theatre. After UM, she intends on attending Harvard Law School to receive her law degree in Entertainment Law. Being on set has granted her an opportunity to experience entertainment professionalism, and life with actor, directors, and other people she may encounter in her career field.
Micaela, a vocal music graduate, was not available for interview.
Another component of working with Running Wild Films is fundraising. Considering how hard it is financially for independent filmmakers, it was really amazing to see the equipment the crew possessed. It was also heartwarming to see the many people that reached out to us like Greg Russell (Brookhaven Little Theatre) and Terry Pappas (Pappa’s Pizza Pi). They supplied us with whatever we needed from food to venues to shoot. There were also many Brookhaven locals who allowed us to use their beautiful homes and churches.
Story by guest writer Aerial Adams. She attends Howard University. Read more about Porches and Private Eyes on the official web site – http://www.porchesmovie.com. Photos credited to Running Wild Films.