While the splendor of the evening is enticing, when you strip away the designer gowns, layers of diamonds, makeup and glitz of the Oscars, you simply have brilliant films that deserve to be celebrated.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Ward Emling from the Mississippi Film Office. Check out our interview below, featuring the birth of the Film Office, notable movies filmed in our state, and the history between Mississippi and the Oscars:
How did the Mississippi Film Office get started? How long have you been in business?
The film office was created on January 17, 1973. It was one of the first three film commissions in the world. (Colorado, Mississippi, Georgia) It was created by Charles Allen, then head of the Mississippi A & I Board, our economic development agency. The first two films it brought in were Thieves Like Us and The Musical Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
We support all films that come to Mississippi in one way or another: scouting locations, finding cast and crew, coordinating with local municipalities, etc. We also administer the application process for the Mississippi Motion Picture Incentive Program. (A 25% - 35% cash rebate for in state spend and resident and non-resident payroll.)
Big films over the last several years include: O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Help, Get On Up, The Hollars. Last year was our biggest year ever:
Films: Get On Up, Midnight Special (partial), Mississippi Grind (partial), Big Bad, The Gift (short), A Gift Horse, The Hollars, Impact Earth, The Livingston Gardener, By Way Of Helena, Worry Dolls, Dixieland, Olivia Martha Ilse (short), Battlecreek, Life At These Speeds, Same Kind Of Different As Me, Texas Heart, The Race of a Lifetime
Reality programming: Swamp Hunters, Bring It!, The Primary Election, Local News, Party Down South, Mississippi Snake Grabbers
Documentary programming: Five V Men Live, Gulf South Outdoors, Honey Brake Experience, Ducks Unlimited Television, St. Joe High: Giant Killers, Y’all vs. Us
Film production provides broad based economic impact: from salaries for cast, extras and crew; to production specific support; from car rentals and groceries to dry cleaners and building materials to hotels and restaurants to office equipment and utilities… They also offer opportunity to individuals to be a part of the film industry for a day or for a lifetime.
Let's talk Oscars. Are there any Mississippi connections with the Oscars this year?
One, rather obscure connection: Danielle Brisbois, who is nominated for Best Song from Begin Again, made her film debut in a film made here in 1975 called The Premonition. Also, Begin Again was produced by Jacksonian Tom Rice.
Morgan Freeman, Octavia Spencer (The Help)
I think Mississippi Burning, The Insider, Walk The Line, and The Help have received the most nominations of films made (in whole or in part) in Mississippi. Also, The Reivers and Ghosts of Mississippi received nominations.