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'OzLand' to premiere locally Thursday

 

Leif and Emri, portrayed by Zack Ratkovich and Glenn Payne respectively, encounter a jarring sight along their journey in a post-apocalyptic landscape in the film “OzLand” by West Point filmmaker Michael Williams.

Leif and Emri, portrayed by Zack Ratkovich and Glenn Payne respectively, encounter a jarring sight along their journey in a post-apocalyptic landscape in the film “OzLand” by West Point filmmaker Michael Williams. Photo by: Courtesy photo

 

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Michael Williams

Michael Williams
Photo by: Courtesy photo

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

More than three years after the idea for "OzLand" first came to independent filmmaker Michael Williams, the finished product will be unveiled. This first feature-length movie from the West Point visionary will test screen Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Malco Theatre on Highway 45 North in Columbus. 

 

Principal photography for the film began during Labor Day weekend 2013 in Minneola, Kansas, and continued in Mississippi periodically up until January 2014. Only days after the one-year anniversary of production start-up, Williams' project will be seen on the big screen. 

 

"It's very strange that I'll soon be running out of things to do for 'Ozland,' to wake up and think 'I don't have to be in the office tonight to work on it,'" said Williams Thursday. "It's weird ... it's something that's been on my mind for so long." 

 

Filmed primarily in North Mississippi with an all-Mississippi cast and crew, "OzLand" is the story of two wayfarers wandering aimlessly in a post-apocalyptic midwest until Leif, the younger and more imaginative of the two, finds a copy of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Using the world around him to interpret what he reads, Leif allows the book to challenge the beliefs, friendship, and even the very survival of these two divergent travelers. 

 

The film's production phase may be complete, but the promotion phase is just beginning. Thursday's showing will be the Golden Triangle's opportunity to see the movie before it begins screening at film festivals across the country. 

 

"It's exciting to share what we've been working on -- but it's also scary, because now we'll know what people think of it," Williams said. 

 

The Sept. 4 premiere includes a Q&A with cast and crew, merchandise sales, giveaways and a look "behind the scenes." 

 

"We're going to show the audience some of the things we used to make this happen, including a lot of cool props and costumes," the filmmaker said. 

 

An extra perk for audience members is a red carpet photo op with a piece of the "OzLand" set in the Malco lobby. 

 

 

 

Advance tickets recommended 

 

Seating is limited to 212 seats. As of Aug. 28, more than half had already been pre-sold. Purchase advance tickets at Williams' Shendopen Productions, 118 E. Commerce St., West Point, or online at ozlandthefilm.com. Tickets are $10. All proceeds from ticket sales and merchandise will be used to market the film to festivals with the ultimate goal of gaining distribution. 

 

For more information on the event and to RSVP, follow "OzLand" at facebook/ozlandthefilm.com.

 

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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