THE MUD DOG BLUES movie shoot at Ground Zero Blues Club, by COOP

Posted on September 18th, 2009
Posted on September 18th, 2009
Ground Zero Blues Club: Clarksdale, Mississippi

Ground Zero Blues Club: Clarksdale, Mississippi

One very welcome side effect to blues music tourism in Clarksdale, Mississippi is that it attracts filmmakers to the area.  Locals may have noticed an increasing amount of camera jockeys and boom mics wandering around downtown and the nearby tourist attractions.  Get used to it, because if Tuesday night’s filming of “The Mud Dog Blues” feature promo trailer at Ground Zero Blues Club is any indication, Clarksdale may become one of the most filmed cities in the state. 

Consisting of most of the crew from “Cigarette Girl” (which I reviewed last week), local Memphian Mike McCarthy, producer Jay Carl Nelson, Brett Magdovitz and others accompany director Marcel Chagnan in creating a short, promotional trailer with the goal of raising money for “The Mud Dog Blues.”  This technique is frequently used by independent filmmakers to generate buzz and funding to later finish the project as a feature film. 

“A privileged, young white boy is seeking his future while an old blues legend is seeking his past,” is how co-screenwriter Harmoni McGlothlin describes the story of “Mud Dog.”  “Jake Bonnum discovers the blues by accident and he falls in love… and he basically blackmails an ex-blues legend who has lost his way.  He brings Jake to the Delta, and as he does so, the blues legend finds his passion again and Jake finds his future.”

Douglas and Draper Maulden

Douglas and Draper Maulden

The filming begins as native Clarksdalians Douglas and Draper Mauldin, in town from Los Angeles to work on a film project of their own, take the stage with stars Chase Nelson (Jake) and GregAlan Williams (Mud Dog) for a rousing rendition of “Proud Mary.” 

“We were in town, shooting a comedy video about hunting from the deer’s perspective when we ran into these guys,” says Draper.  “It’s very cool that we got to jam with them.”  The twin entertainers have been living in California for years now, working on a wide variety of projects, ranging from reality TV to comedy skits and live performances.  Quite often they return to the Delta to visit friends and family and to work on their latest undertakings.

Once the Mauldins exit the stage, co-director Mike McCarthy summons all extras to the dance floor.  According to 2nd Assistant Director Lauren Jenkins, both Win Graham – founder of the Delta Film Commission – and I are included in that demand.  As we approach the stage to “dance” for the camera, Win notes director Chagnan’s impressive setup.  “See that?” Winn said pointing to the camera.  “That’s a new ‘Red One’ digital camera.  State of the art.  I’d like to get a better look at that.” 

McCarthy gives some cues to the audience, me included.  “Dance, but not that well.  You’re not really into in the music this time.  And DON’T look at the camera!”  He went on to inform us that we should act ambivalent to some of the music, then act excited for other scenes.  They would tell us which. 

As Win, I and the rest of the extras attempted to wing it, I noticed how well the native crowd followed along.  Not bad for a ragtag group of locals who showed up at the last minute, not knowing what to expect.  The shoot went on for a couple of hours and then I had a chance to talk to the rest of the cast/crew. 

Big Vinny Mack dancing with his band, Trailer Choir

Big Vinny Mack dancing with his band, Trailer Choir

One of the most colorful members of the cast, Big Vinny Mack from Nashville wowed the crowd with impressive dancing skills that defied his robust physique.  A star member the upstart country band “Trailer Choir,” Big Vinny expects big things for “Mud Dog.” 

“Jay Nelson handed me the script and it was the first script I ever read all the way through because I was so intrigued by it,” says Big Vinny.  “My character is the comic relief, you know, a fat guy playing drums…  After I read the script, I called him up and said, ‘Dude, I will do anything I can to make this movie happen.’” Big Vinny has a lot to crow about besides a budding acting career.  His band’s single, “Rockin the Beer Gut” is #30 the in the charts and the video is #10 on CMT (Country Music Television).  “Today we got to film this aerial scene where Bill Luckett’s plane chases us in an old Mustang… and I was like, wow we are really here doing this!”  Bigg Vinny Mack and the Trailer Choir are a headlining act at the fair in South Haven on September 30th.

GregAlan Williams

GregAlan Williams

You might recognize character actor GregAlan Williams, who plays the aging blues legend Mississippi Mud Dog, from his roles in “Remember the Titans” and “The Sopranos.”  In this film we meet his character at the lowest point in his life, performing a clichéd rap act he tortures through just to put food on the table.  “The child is disappointed in this guy who was a legend for him and so the whole film is about redemption and goes from there,” says Williams. 

Originally from Lexington, MS, Williams has been acting in Los Angeles since the 80’s and still manages to find a good deal of work.  “I’ve got a new Fox series starting in March called ‘Past Life’… it’s reincarnation meets CSI.  And I have a feature film coming out called ‘Preacher’s Kid’ that will hit in January so watch out for those, but it’s real exciting being here and working on ‘The Mud Dog Blues’.” 

Jay Carl Nelson, producer and co-writer of “Mud Dog Blues,” originally from Monroe, LA went from Nashville real estate agent to movie producer.  “Driving through the Delta between Nashville and Louisiana to visit my parents, I developed this essence with the Mississippi Delta and that is what inspired me to write this screenplay…  I believe in the movie, I believe in the cast, I believe in the town, Clarksdale that has supported us and Mr. Bill Luckett who has been so encouraging.  After Bill read the script he said, ‘I’m going to help you get this movie out there,’ and I want to thank him so much.” 

Mike McCarthy

Mike McCarthy

The imminent indie auteur Mike McCarthy met Jay and Harmoni McGlothlin at the On Location Film Festival in Memphis back in 2008 when he and the stunning “Cigarette Girl” star Cori Dials spoke on a panel titled “Making it with friends and no money.”  They all clicked immediately and ended up working together again on this project.  He has a horror script called “Coffin Maker” he is working on getting produced and a western in the works.  Here, helping “The Mud Dog Blues” get filmed with his partners, he once again represents the indie cinema of the Mid South.  “This is really Jay’s baby and we’re all helping him and utilizing a lot of people from “Cigarette Girl,” so he knows us and we’ve all worked together before.” 

The crew intends to return when they have the money to complete “Mud Dog” and finish the film in Clarksdale and surrounding areas.  Rumor has it that two additional, unrelated film crews are filming in town this weekend.  If filmmakers continue to show interest in the blues and the picturesque qualities of our fair town (and take advantage of our generous state tax incentives), we might expect many more camera-carrying professionals in the months and years to come. 

As for co-writer McGlothlin, she has become so fascinated with Clarksdale and the local culture, she plans to move from Florida all the way here in order to be a part of the Clarksdale community.  “I walked through Clarksdale and felt swollen… every time I come here it’s like coming home,” she said while describing the emotions she felt when visiting the city for the first time.  “Here’s my philosophy…  If you come to Clarksdale, you know who you are because when you look at this town you feel one of two things: You will either feel a sad sense of hope because you see so much that is beautiful and broken and you feel that it will become what it’s meant to be… or you feel it’s just too sad and you walk away.  I walked into Clarksdale and found out I was a person who hoped.  I want to be a part of this place.”


More great articles…

  • I’ve been saying it all along… Romantic Comedies are screwing up our love lives! by COOP
  • A Movie/Film Review Lesson Plan for Teachers! by COOP
  • BLEEDIN’ WICKED GOOGLY… Films about 35 of those “Other” Sports (Parts 1 – 7) by JAY
  • “Bard None: A Cinematic Guide to Really Bad Shakespeare” by JAY
  • Not a Xenu’s chance in hell… Travolta + Cruise does NOT = BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID!!! by JAY
  • Dex Romweber and the TWO HEADED COW… definitely the most bizarre documentary screening/concert I’ve ever seen! by COOP
  • Top 10 Scariest Horror Scenes by COOP
  • Top 10 Greatest Halloween Villains by COOP
  • DARK SIDE announces the BEST MOVIE VILLAIN of 2008… Who will claim 2009? **UPDATED**
  • DARK SIDE announces the BEST MOVIE VILLAIN of 2007… Who will claim 2009?
  • THE DARK SIDE CRITIC stars in his own horror short!!!
  • Porky’s Revenge: Swine Flu and the Virus in Film… by JAY
  • Top 10 Greatest Movie Titles Ever!
  • Top 11 Baddest Killer Robots!
  • Ten Movies Designed to Offend Your Religion (Part 1)
  • Ten Movies Designed to Offend Your Religion (Part 2)
  • Why Manly-Men Love Action Flick Chicks
  • Action Flick Chick’s Zombie Survival Guide for a Small Town
  • No Comments •


    Search Form
    Trailer for the award-winning short PRISMA…

    A corporate promotional VHS tape from 1984 conceals a brain-altering signal which is said to grant increased health, longevity and psychic powers to those who watch it. View at your own risk...

    WINNER: SPECIAL JURY PRIZE, 2017 Oxford Film Festival

    WINNER: BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

    SEMI-FINALIST: 2017 NanoCon International Science-Fiction Film Festival

    NOMINEE: BEST ANIMATION, 2017 End of Days Film Festival

    NOMINEE: BEST GRAPHICS, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

    2017 Nightmares Film Festival
    2017 A Night of Horror Film Festival
    2017 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
    2017 Oxford Film Festival
    2017 Crossroads Film Festival
    2017 Clarksdale Film Festival
    2017 Twisted Dreams Film Festival
    2017 Tupelo Film Festival
    2017 NanoCon International Sci-Fi Film Festival
    2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival
    2017 End of Days Film Festival
    2017 Grenada Afterglow Film Festival
    2017 Shiver International Film Festival
    2017 Southern States Indie FanFilmFest

    Trailer for the lost short GOD MAKER…

    Northern Mississippi 1932:
    In a cabin in the woods, a blind blues guitarist will discover his destiny from a lovesick goddess who seeks to corrupt his soul.

    GOD MAKER remains unfinished and in limbo for now, but the trailer expresses the mood and imagery intended for the project...

    Coop’s award-winning 48 hour short film trailer for REGRESS…

    Told in reverse, this experimental made-in-48-hours film begins with a shocking murder then backtracks (like a viewer rewinding a VHS tape) to reveal the chilling origins of this tragedy.

    WINNER: BEST SHORT FILM at the 2013 Clarksdale Film Festival...
    NOMINATED: BEST DIRECTING by the 2012 48hr. Guerrilla Film Challenge (international contest)...
    OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Crossroads Film Festival

    Watch Coop’s award-winning short film THE BEST DAY…

    WINNER: 2012 MAGNOLIA FILM FESTIVAL "Best Homegrown Film"

    2012 OTHERFEST

    Morgan Freeman asks Coop a question at THE BEST DAY premiere! Video below…

    My short film THE BEST DAY premiered in October 2011 at the Delta Cinema in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

    Little did I know I had a special guest in the audience who was about to ask me a question during the Q&A. Yep, I got a little flustered when I saw who it was.

    The Small Town Critic’s SCREENWRITING SERVICES
    Follow Coop on Twitter...
      follow me on twitter
      Follow smalltowncritic on Twitter
      Subscribe via Email!

      Enter your email address:

      Delivered by FeedBurner

      Subscribe via RSS feed!