Locals get camera time in independent film

Published 11:15 pm Thursday, October 4, 2007

NATCHEZ — Miranda Graves doesn’t normally wear a bonnet.

And Casey Gilbert rarely wears a vest.

But the two donned antebellum costumes to join in with other extras for an independent film’s first week of shooting in Natchez.

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Both have experience on the stage. Graves has performed in two local plays, and Gilbert has been a staple at the Natchez Little Theatre for years.

Stage acting and film acting are very different, though, Graves said.

“On the stage, it’s a little scarier,” Graves said. “There are a lot of people watching you. Here, you only have a couple people watching.”

The stop-and-go of filming was new to Gilbert, he said.

“With this, you’ve got a lot of wait time,” he said. “You hurry up and do it, and then you wait a while. It’s a lot of fun so far.”

Tucson-based independent film studio Lost River Productions, also the name of the movie, filmed Under-the-Hill Thursday, is handling filming. They will shoot a battle scene at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians Monday and then film in Vicksburg.

The film features a young woman who tried to convince Civil War military leaders of a strategy that would win the war. She eventually succeeded, Production Manager Joe Dunlap said.

Natchez was an ideal place to shoot the film, lending historical accuracy and scenery, Dunlap said.

Thursday, the crew was filming a scene that takes place upriver.

“This part (Under-the-Hill) looks a lot like St. Louis at the time, so this is St. Louis today,” he said.

Dunlap said he was impressed by the reception the visitors received.

“Everyone has been so wonderful,” he said. “If any of my friends in the business ask, I’ll say this is where they need to shoot.”

That’s music to city Media Liaison Sally Durkin’s ears. She said she hopes Natchez will soon return to its former status of a filming destination.

“It’s great to have a film production like this in Natchez,” Durkin said. “This is the first in what I hope will be a long line of films.”

Recent state legislation creating benefits for the film industry will help tremendously, she said.

“Although this is a low-budget film, you have to start somewhere,” Durkin said.

Another independent film, one about outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, is next in line. Originally scheduled to start filming this month, filming in Natchez has been delayed until March, Durkin said.