The Kickstarter Blog

Blast From The Past

  1. Spotlight: Oxford, MS.

    As we mentioned yesterday, we’re highlighting projects this week that are being made in towns outside of the big cities, to get a glimpse of the creative communities that are all over the country but rarely in the news.

    The filmmakers behind “Where I Begin,” a character study set in a small southern town, left Los Angeles for Oxford, Mississippi. We caught up with co-writer and producer Melanie Addington to talk about Oxford, making films outside of L.A., and returning to her southern roots.

    Tell us about Oxford. What’s it like making a film there?

    Mostly it is hot. We have been filming in a heat index of 126. But we chose to film in a southern town in August, mostly because we are insane. But really working on a film in Oxford is perfect. The locations have all been generous with their space and time and the town has adopted our actors and crew, putting them up in their houses, throwing parties, bringing us food.

    “Where I Begin” seems interested in accurately portraying life in a “small southern town,” a phrase that conjures up an entire world of things. What exactly does it mean to you? And, in terms of that, how typical is Oxford?

    While we are filming in Oxford, the town from “Where I Begin” is meant to be much smaller and broken down. Oxford is a SEC college town so it is actually very nice and somewhat trendy. The best part of it is that there are some less “nice” parts to town that are perfect for the film. We spent two days filming at the Ole Miss Motel (also known for a location in Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag) which definitely had a seedier side of small town living with the cops showing up several times for drug busts.

    Any reason you settled on Oxford over the original location of Columbia, KY?

    Our director was living there temporarily for a year teaching film at a small Baptist college. Our financier backed out unfortunately and we had to reinvent ourselves. Since I am in Oxford and knew that Mississippi has a great network of filmmakers (along with Memphis, our adopted Mississippi town in Tennessee), Thomas came here and we kicked off our Kickstarter campaign and held a fundraiser. Within days we had so much support from the local arts council, friends and strangers that just wanted to help that we knew this was where we needed to film. It was the perfect choice. Oxford is the home of great southern writers, musicians and artists. Film is starting to catch up, but we love that we are bringing more of the industry to town. There is so much talent and passion here that it is the perfect place to make a movie. Plus, it is pretty easy to keep a tight independent budget in a small town compared to trying to film in L.A. or New York. The authenticity of the place helps the actors connect with their characters.

    Why did you leave L.A.? Considering the fact that film is a hugely collaborative medium, how necessary do you think it is for filmmakers to be in L.A. these days?

    I left L.A. because I wanted to find a smaller community to focus on being a writer. Thomas L. Phillips, the director, originally was in Knoxville, Tenn and lived in L.A. for the last decade but decided to return to the south to focus on making a film in the south. We both crossed paths meeting at a festival in the south. There is an amazing circuit of southern film festivals and amazing filmmakers that have roots here but work with people from all over the country. For example, my friend Ted Speaker who will be doing music for our film is from Birmingham but worked last on a film, Humpday, whose director was from Seattle. There really is so little reason to do what you love only in Southern California. If you want to make a movie, there are great resources throughout this country and an amazing network of friends and filmmakers anywhere you go.

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