Mississippi’s new tax incentives for filmmakers have only recently been implemented and already we are seeing the industry taking advantage. Up-and-coming country band ‘Lucy Angel’ surprised and delighted many Clarksdale residents this past Sunday when they arrived in the New World district to shoot the latest music video for their song “Serious.” Producer Jay Carl Nelson, who shot a trailer for his prospective film “Mud Dog Blues” here in town last year, once again chose Clarksdale as the setting for this latest project with Lucy Angel.
Many local residents became involved in the filming of this video. Entertainers Douglas and Draper Mauldin, formerly of Lyon helped the crew in setting up and filming. Local Rachel Holcomb Cirilli provided a spectacular and surreal living room set positioned in the middle of Issaquena Ave. which served in some of the key scenes of the shoot. Other locals provided food, shelter (thanks to Luther and family from 2 Brothers Wangz and Thangz on Issaquena) and many performed as extras in the video itself. Even local lawyer/politician Bill Luckett and daughter Whitney Trimble got into the act, appearing in the background of the video. I was tasked with shooting still pictures for the production.
The band seemed unfazed by the soaring Delta heat. Mother, Kate Anderton (mandolin) with daughters Lindsay (lead vocals) and Emily (guitar) soldiered on throughout the day with few breaks and no complaints. The gracious Arizona natives even took the time to meet and greet with locals in between shots and pose for numerous photos. Poised as rising stars similar to the Dixie Chicks and the Judds, Lucy Angel is signed with the GForce Music Group headed up by “G-Man” (his professional name) who personally oversaw the video shoot. The band has performed globally and has the distinction of being the first Western/American act to perform at The Great Hall of the People in China’s Tiananmen Square.
Production setup started at noon and didn’t end until late into the night. The Nashville-based crew shot the band performing in the New Roxy, outside of Hopson Plantation and frolicking around town in a limousine while a helicopter filmed overhead. The professional production included three $30,000 ‘Red’ cameras, plus two jib cranes, a vintage 1950’s Thunderbird, lighting/cinematography by A-list gaffer Reinhart ‘Ray’ Peschke and directed by veteran music video director ‘Marcel.’ Clarksdale hasn’t seen this caliber of professional filmmaking since “The Help” filmed here last July, and momentum for such productions appears to be on the rise.
Lucy Angel and the crew may have gone back to Nashville but the effect of their visit will continue to resonate both here and throughout the film/music business. The crew complimented the town on its hospitality and charm. Jay Carl Nelson made a point to thank the crowd for supporting him and expressed how he loved this town and still plans on finishing “Mud Dog Blues” here. No doubt these compliments will return with Lucy Angel and the crew. Word of Clarksdale’s potential will continue to reach far and wide.
I have been telling locals to expect an increase in this type of activity and I am glad to see things heading in that direction. The Mississippi Film Office is likewise expecting more film business in the rest of the state and next week they will reach out to community leaders and filmmakers alike.
The Mississippi Film Office is holding a summit in Canton on July 7-8 to promote these incentives as well as the new film studio in Canton. Governor Haley Barbour and Lt. Governor Phil Bryant are schedule to speak at the summit which will focus on the business aspect of filmmaking in Mississippi and how potential filmmakers and communities can benefit. Hinds County Community College will also outline their new Film Industry Program focusing on training students to enter the filmmaking workforce.