More movies may be in Mississippi, Natchez’s future
NATCHEZ — Tate Taylor won’t have too long to bask in the glow of any potential success from “Get On Up” — and Natchez may not either.
The Mississippian and Church Hill resident is already working on a handful of other projects that could bring movie crews back to Natchez.
Taylor, who directed the 2011 Academy Award nominated film “The Help,” completed filming in January for the James Brown biographical movie that was filmed in Natchez and the surrounding areas. The movie hits the big screen nationwide Aug. 1.
Taylor co-wrote, directed and produced the movie, which chronicles the life of the Godfather of Soul from age 5 to 60.
Since filming finished, Taylor has been working on a Netflix series, “Gracie & Frankie” starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, according to a release by Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Taylor is set to direct the pilot and be an executive producer to the series, which is being filmed in Los Angeles.
But it’s Taylor’s next movie project that has his production partner John Norris even more excited.
“In the Event of a Moon Disaster” is a fictional account of the first lunar landing in which a disaster strikes.
“It’s sort of a cautionary ‘what if’ telling of the Apollo mission and looking at what if things hadn’t gone right,” Norris said. “There was a speech written for Nixon in advance of the mission in case there was a disaster that plays a part.
“It’s a very interesting story about politics, publicity and fear.”
The movie is currently in pre-production, and Norris said he’s scouting filming locations throughout the state.
“That’s another movie we’re going to film entirely in Mississippi,” Norris said. “We’re still figuring out where to shoot some of the space center scenes, but it’s also a movie about the astronaut’s wives, the town and just the 50s and 60s, so we would probably bring some of that to Natchez.”
Another project Norris said he and Taylor are working on is a film adaptation of “Paperboy” by Vince Vawter.
The book tells the story of an 11-year-old boy living in Memphis in 1959 who can barely say a word without stuttering, not even his own name, according to the author’s website.
The boy takes over a newspaper route for a friend stirring up real trouble and putting the boy’s life in danger.
“The world starts to open for him as he begins to interact with all these people on the route,” Norris said. “It’s a great story.”
The movie, Norris said, will be a smaller project than “Get On Up” or “In the Event of a Moon Disaster,” but also has the potential of great things for Mississippi filmmaking.
“Tate and I are going to produce it, and we want to raise the money in Mississippi, shoot everything in Mississippi and mentor a Mississippi director through it all,” Norris said. “We have these big movies to do, but we also want to develop the culture of filmmaking in Mississippi by telling these great stories and working to foster new talent and local crews.”
Norris said he and Taylor were in the process of looking for a screenwriter to help push the project along. Filming would likely begin next year.
But before those projects get going, Taylor’s next film will focus on Brownie Wise, the marketing pioneer who created the Tupperware home party strategy that made the brand a household name and opened new professional avenues for women, according to a Sony release.
Taylor will write, produce and direct the film, based on Bob Kealing’s non-fiction book “Tupperware Unsealed.”
Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock will star in the lead role as Wise.
Norris will serve as an executive producer for the movie. He said locations for the filming have not yet been discussed.
Hannah Minghella, president of production for Sony Pictures Entertainment, praised Taylor for his work in past projects that have the same feel as the Tupperware film.
“As a writer-director, Tate has the rare and delicate ability to capture both the romanticism and restrictions of a time and place — in this case 1950s suburban America,” Minghella stated in the release. “His characters are both immediately recognizable, while also uniquely iconic.”
Taylor said he was thrilled to work with Bullock on the project.
“Sandy and I have been trying to work together for years,” Taylor stated in the release. “Finally, I’m very excited to put Tupperware in her hands. This is a collaborative dream come true.”
Taylor and Norris will attend a Natchez showing of “Get On Up” Saturday, ahead of the nationwide release date.