Filmakers receive grants to complete films

Published 6:00 am Sunday, August 27, 2017

By Mississippi Film & Video Alliance

Through a generous grant from the Mississippi Film Office, Mississippi Film and Video Alliance selected 5 filmmakers for the 15th annual Emerging Mississippi Filmmakers Grant Program.

Two narrative films and three documentary shorts were financed this year.

Email newsletter signup

Joe Smiley of Jackson will make the narrative short “The Water Cooler,” about a water cooler that breaks out of the office with MFVA funds.

“Filmmakers need all the help they can get financing their projects, especially amateurs like me. That’s why I’m thrilled to have been awarded this grant. It’s allowing me to pursue an idea I’ve been excited about for a long time, something I’m not sure I’d be able to do otherwise. That kind of an opportunity doesn’t come along often, and I plan on making the most of it,” Smiley said.

James Puckett of Tupelo also is making a narrative short titled “Delta Crossing,” about two elderly former friends that cross paths once again.

Puckett shared Smiley’s sentiment and followed with, “The MFVA Grant is a very essential part of making this film and we couldn’t be more thankful. It will help pay for the people and locations we wanted to use when we planned this film. Many filmmakers’ dream will come true because of this grant.”

Hannah Miller of Collins will make a documentary short “Grow Where You Are Planted” about Mercedes Ricks in Magnolia starting a food truck.

“MFVA will help me further my career by giving me the necessary funds and support to make a Mississippi film,” Miller said. “I want to be known as “Mississippi filmmaker” because Mississippi is my home, and without home and its many life lessons, I wouldn’t have the direction or purpose that I do. Making a film about a strong woman in Mississippi is very important way that I can begin to give back to the place that’s given me so much.”

Victoria DeLeone of Oxford will make a documentary short that is untitled on Heart Break Coffee in Water Valley — an emerging business.

Galen Mark LaFrancis and New Dawn Productions of Natchez has a documentary short, “Women of the Struggle: Facing Fear in the Civil Rights Era,” will chronicle the teen and pre-teen years of young women whose families experienced intense intimidation and fear during the Civil Rights era in Mississippi. LaFrancis is also receiving funding from the Mississippi Humanities Council for the film.

“We are honored by the support of the Mississippi Film and Video Alliance,” said G. Mark LaFrancis, founder and president of New Dawn Video Productions. “Our independent film company is very young, however, we have committed ourselves to the motto ‘Films With a Purpose.’ We aim to bring voice to the voiceless, those who lived through troubled and difficult personal and social times. This grant will give us the financial wings we need to keep that goal aloft.”

The Mississippi Film and Video Alliance is open to filmmakers from the entire state to help fund up to $2,500 for Mississippi made films. This serves as the 15th anniversary of the grant program and this year the MFVA board has expanded the award to also include submission waivers from numerous festivals throughout the state.

Festival waivers include Oxford Film Festival, Crossroads Film Festival, AfterGlow Film Festival, Sun & Sand Film Festival, Rails to Reels Film Festival, Festival South Film Expo, Clarksdale Film Festival and It’s About You Film Festival.

The program was created to help develop Mississippi’s film and video artists as the next generation of Mississippi’s legacy of storytelling. The grant is available to working and emerging Mississippi filmmakers. The program is open to legal residents of Mississippi, 18 years of age and older. Filmmakers have one year to complete their film after receiving the grant.

The MFVA board is made up of the following filmmakers: Melanie Addington of Oxford, Philip Scarborough of Jackson, Michael Williams of West Point, Coop Cooper of Clarksdale, Casey Dillard of Tupelo, Miles Doleac of Hattiesburg and Catherine Leatherwood of Long Beach. Nina Parikh of the Mississippi Film Office also acts as a liaison for the board.

MFVA has helped fund over 50 projects in its fifteen years as an organization. Applications and supporting material must be received on or before August 1 each year.

Information is available at