September 17, 2011 9:08:00 AM
West Point''s Michael Williams has always admired filmmaker Steven Spielberg''s attention to detail, captivating storytelling and ability to create movies with the right mixture of heart, wonderment and suspense grounded in reality, no matter how fantastic the subject matter.
"I''ve always wanted to make a film with those same qualities. ''Illumination'' is that film," said Williams, the short film''s writer and director.
"Illumination" will premiere at The Ritz Theatre and Conference Center Thursday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m., before hitting the independent film circuit later this year, screening at film festivals across the country through 2012. Written and directed by Williams, the science fiction drama features 10-year-old Grayson Easterling of West Point, Glenn Payne of Blue Springs and Juliet Reeves of Tupelo. The supporting cast hail from northeast Mississippi.
The 22-minute film is a story of one man''s personal journey for redemption under extraordinary circumstances.
"This film wouldn''t have been possible without the help I received from the Mississippi Film and Video Alliance''s Emerging Filmmaker Grant," noted Williams. "I knew it would be an ambitious project. For a while I didn''t think I''d be able to make it, considering how much ''bigger'' in scale it was compared to my past films."
Home sweet home
Shot almost entirely in West Point, ''Illumination'' gives Williams another chance to show off his hometown, as he''s done in several past projects.
"The convenience of shooting in your hometown and the resources it provides are priceless," remarked the filmmaker. "West Point, as well as the Golden Triangle, are such rich areas for film production, and have yet to really be exploited. Productions would benefit from the wealth of locations in the area and the hospitality of its residents. In return, Golden Triangle communities greatly benefit from productions who choose their region to film in and around. It''s a win-win situation for both."
"Illumination" is produced by Shendopen Productions of West Point, in association with Distant Lands Productions of Nashville, Tenn., formerly of Greenville.
How to go
Tickets are $7 and can be purchased in advance at Shendopen Productions, 118 Commerce St. in West Point, or at the door.
On the 29th, patrons can dine at one of the event''s sponsoring restaurants -- Café Ritz, Anthony''s Good Food Market, The New Main Street Market and Restaurant or Stafford''s Big Burger -- and receive $2 off admission by showing your receipt at the box office.
A cash bar will be available at the premiere.
A question-and-answer session with the cast and crew will be held after the screening. A reception will follow at The Ritz.
This premiere is sponsored in part by the West Point/Clay County Arts Council; The Ritz Theater and Conference Center; Edwards, Storey, Marshall, Helveston & Easterling, LLP; Van Williams United Country/MS Land and Lakes Agent; Dakmon Entertainment; and Wild Tulip Films.
Watch a brief trailer for "Illumination" at youtube.com/watch?v=ZJdm4_ZAiU. Follow the film on Facebook at facebook.com/illuminationthefilm.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.