West Point filmmaker premieres new short film

February 23, 2013 7:41:42 PM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


Michael Williams' latest independent film started out as a modest project. But, in keeping with its super hero theme, the characters and story soon grew beyond expectations.  


The West Point Arts Council presents "Kane," this newest film by Williams and his Shendopen Productions, in its premiere at The Ritz in downtown West Point Thursday, March 7, at 7 p.m. Short films made by West Point youth will also be screened, as well as trailers and previews for other films recently produced in Mississippi. Admission at the door is $7. A cash bar will be provided by The Ritz. 


"'Kane' is a super hero action drama short film about a super hero's tough love toward the people he saves," said Williams, 25. 


The film was shot primarily in West Point, at locations such as Sopranos and Jordan Avenue, across from City Hall. Some scenes were filmed in Tupelo. The cast and crew hail from Mississippi, including actors Glenn Payne of Blue Springs, Casey Dillard of Tupelo and Cameron Spann of Starkville. 


"It's a very ambitious short. It's just a passion project for everyone involved," said Williams of the collaborative project. "It started off real small, and I filled it with everybody I knew that I like to work with. I knew they would put their all into it." 


Proceeds from the premiere will go toward sending "Kane" to festivals around the country and to funding Williams' first feature-length film, "Ozland," set to begin production this summer.  


The full-length film will be a "post-apocalyptic drama about one man's interpretation of the book, the 'Wizard of Oz,'" explained Williams. 




Branching out 


Going from producing shorts to a full-length movie is a huge leap, one aided by an Emerging Filmmaker Grant from the Mississippi Film and Video Alliance Williams received. Payne, who appears in "Kane" and is also a filmmaker, is a recipient, too. Each will help the other throughout production of their respective projects. It's a sign of the close-knit ties much of the state's film community enjoys. 


"When I started, I didn't know many people making films, but now every other month has something going on in the state," remarked Williams, who was a camera production assistant on the crew of James Franco's "As I Lay Dying," shot this past fall in and around Canton.  


"It (Mississippi's film industry) is definitely growing bigger and bigger; I can't even keep up with the movies being made here," he added. 


Williams praised the state's efforts to attract more major films, but noted the need for a larger base of skilled crew. 


"They're definitely doing what they can when it comes to getting legislation passed to get people in here, but we need more people working in film in more areas of the state. That's what's holding us back in my opinion." 


Check out the trailer for "Kane" on youtube and visit facebook.com/kanethefilm.

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.