Where I Begin: A “Movie Review of Sorts” by Poor William for the Delta Bohemian


Where I Begin: A “Movie Review of Sorts”

by Poor William for the Delta Bohemian

“I walked into a world of shit! A place I didn’t belong anymore. Who was I to think I could change this? I can’t change this…Once you are gone; you’re gone!”  —  Jacob

“Where I Begin” is a raw, semi-redemptive, small town movie with a small time budget spearheaded by independent filmmakers Thomas J. Philips and Melanie Addington. First premiering at the Oxford Film Festival (OFF) in 2011, the movie has since been screened at a number of festivals all over the U.S., including our very own 2ndannual Clarksdale Film Festival.

Filmmakers Melanie Addington and Daniel Perea on the front porch of Clark House Residential Inn--Clarksdale, Mississippi. Photo by Delta Bohemian

Filmmakers Melanie Addington and Daniel Perea on the front porch of Clark House Residential Inn--Clarksdale, Mississippi. Photo by Delta Bohemian

Directed by Philips and co-written by Addington and Philips, the movie hits a nerve with folks who understand the lugubrious pace, long memories, and the silent “what-ifs” associated with living and surviving in small, decaying towns. Oxford, Sardis, Scobie, Taylor and Tupelo were all North Mississippi locations used to give the claustrophobic, verdant, forlorn feeling of a dying town, still hiding unspoken secrets…

Filmed solely on a single Canon 5D—at the time it was the second feature movie to be shot with the versatile $3K camera.

During Clarksdale’s Film Festival 2012, held the last weekend in January 2012, Addington, writer for the Oxford Eagle and the Oxford Film Freak blog along with Tupelo-based independent filmmaker Daniel Perea visited the Clark House Residential Inn in downtown Clarksdale to interview with the Delta Bohemian. (Audio excerpts of interview will be used in the future for a Delta Bohemian piece on the art, craft, and importance of Indie filmmaking.)

The Delta Bohemian is thrilled to be connected with the literary/thespian community in Oxford. One of our favorite actors is Johnny McPhail, who plays a strong cameo role in the film. His unusually understated acting added authenticity to the movie. Johnny is an important member of Clarksdale’s annual Tennessee Williams Festival; his porch play performances are legendary. Kudos, Johnny.

Photo Still from the movie WHERE I BEGIN. Used by permission.

Photo Still from the movie WHERE I BEGIN. Used by permission.

Poor William is no movie critic, so he knows not how to properly review a movie with industry-expected protocol. So, fair readers, he will not spoil the movie by saying neither too much nor too little about it. The principals speak for themselves while he adds a strange, stream-of-consciousness at the end.

Where I Begin is billed as “a character study in a small, small southern town. The events, rumors, stares and gossip from one night long ago has shaped a group of friends into who they are as adults… The movie is a gritty southern drama that pulls no punches and delves into the lives of the towns people and the inner workings of a small southern community, where rumors are the truth and the past is always right in front of you.”

Addington and Phillips believe indie films serve as more than an artistic medium. “We believe that independent films can and do hold a significant place in the history of filmmaking. Where Hollywood has failed, independent cinema has picked up the ball, telling stories that mean something and that show us the real world, its good, bad and ugly.”

“Having grown up in the small southern town like the one where we’ll be shooting, it is my goal to create a very authentic and accurate portrait of the characters and the region itself,” Phillip wrote. “I love character driven stories, and Where I Begin is just that story.”

Something akin to free flow:

Lighting                 negative space         meaningful stills        browns   greens   grays
close-ups                       profiles           music haunting   night scenes   high moon
crickets   bull frogs   night sounds  heavy air

parallel train tracks where do they go?    are they still used?          small town symbolism?
muscle car in the weeds       not staged              beauty in the dirty desolate south
longing for relief             intimate scenes     no closure   little closure   it’s ok   characters developed   feelings hidden laid splayed

in background—“where I begin I can’t go back been too long on this road never knowing where I am at if I find my way back to your arms again I won’t let go
where I begin”

haddy      hot chick     demure   southern cool      beauty stuck      patiently impatient
jacob           guilt-ridden  protagonist   thoughtful    disturbed   seeking  searching   unsure
tyler                antagonist   edgy   resentful   despotic    hateful       horny   acidic   hollow
connie                  mom    wise   worn  weathered   beautiful   hard   distrustful
Kristen                       sister   wise  tender   healing   forgiving   understanding
patrick                            bartender    careful  wise  empathetic   quiet  libertarian   grounded
ace                                       resilient    touch   concerned     thoughtful    disgraced

white noise          dilapidated house for sale             more weeds             ghost town
still shot transitions well done          family restaurant vacant   town for sale
ramshackle structures   authenticity    close ups crystal clear    bar scene shot from rear
city hall pricks   smoking no smoking   welcome here   sheriff’s daughter always
criminal’s daughter  ten years  movie theater gone  plant gone  jobs gone  customers gone
“shit comes shit goes nothing sticks nothing much changes”
“about what you would expect”          “it’s not really that bad some change is better than none right”    “it wasn’t that good to begin with”   “your mom fought hard”
bartender a perfect example of dignity coupled with pragmatism
tyler a cretin why does he do what he does    tempestuous  uncontrolled  capricious
“ten years and never aren’t quite the same thing”
“you’re my mom you are supposed to believe me”
“that girl never got closure   I wanted you safe…I chose you”
ass whuppin   blood  discussion  pain frustration manifest and depleted

“down every road is just another small town like this one”
“once you are gone you’re gone”


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  1. Dean & Toots says:

    Listining to OIL CITY BLUES RADIO on the laptop and reading about the Clarksdale Film Festival. Always knew Clarksdale was the happening place but, Film Festival?

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