By Mickey Howley
Set in a fictional Mississippi small town, the movie “Forced Move” has been filming in the Water Valley area the last three weeks. By the time you read this, the movie crew hopes they will have just finished their last day of shooting.
Without giving too much of the plot away, the movie involves good guys and bad guys and law enforcement. The main good guy character is a runner, as in running for exercise – something many of us should do more of, humans were born to run, just saying – and the plot has him running small country roads. So when movie location scout Laura Cavett came to look at the Valley, that was the basic plot and needs; a small town with nearby country roads. Guess what? Many towns have that, but that’s also Water Valley.
Sure all of the other five Mississippi towns she looked at had the basic fit, small town and nearby scenic country roads. But the movie also needed a few other locations—like a nursing home/hospital, a roadside motel, a local (not a chain) diner and a nice lively downtown.
And that is where Yalobusha General, Valley Motel, the BTC, and Water Valley’s Main Street made the deciding call for writer/director Tony Blood-worth and producer Barry Barclay. That’s a strange combination if you think about it and many small towns don’t have all of those.
This whole movie shooting on location stuff takes big effort and lots of coordination and local assistance. Like much assistance from the WVPD and sheriff’s office, local businesses, local homeowners, the local realtors, along with city and county officials. It is a lot of work to make a film.
I had a bit of an insight into the process. I was present for one scene that was shot inside of the former Doc’s Table building. It was only a 90-second scene, but even prior to the day of the shoot it took three trips by some of the crew to figure the layout. The day of the shooting, again for this 90-second scene, 16 crew members were there from sound guy to make-up to lighting to set design to cameraman. There were three actors in the scene and six extras. And shooting that scene took five different camera angles. And the actors played that one scene 30 times. I can still hear the dialog in my head. It was an impressive amount of energy and detail.
The hope is this will all be a great advertisement for Water Valley and the creative energy here. I don’t see us being the next Holly-wood of the South.
Nah… but hopefully the California crew goes back with a great impression and spreads the word. And the Mississippi based crew members now know how film friendly the Valley is.
This coming Saturday there is a city wide clean up with a number of civic groups participating. I always like the week right before Watermelon Carnival, as the town looks its spiffy best. But this spring-cleaning is a great way to have that trash free look now and start the summer off right. If you are game for a bit of civic-minded service, be at City Hall Saturday morning at 8 p.m.