Made in Mississippi: Director hopes to grow local film industry

Director hopes to grow local film industry

jmitchell@sunherald.comJuly 12, 2014 

D'IBERVILLE -- Miles Doleac cruised the red carpet at the Long Island Film Festival on Friday to watch his feature film, "The Historian," open the festival. He was at a coffee shop in D'Iberville on Monday talking about his newest project -- a film made in Mississippi, shot in Mississippi and produced by Mississippians.

Production for "The Hollow," a murder mystery set in a fictional Mississippi town, is set to begin in 2015. Doleac will direct the movie, and it will be filmed in Hattiesburg and South Mississippi. Ryan Jackson will be its producer, and Gulfport native Jase Payne will be associate producer.

Payne landed an internship during production of "The Historian" through the University of Southern Mississippi and said he believes in the future of film creation in the state.

"The film industry here is expanding," he said. "We're trying to turn that into a tidal wave."

Doleac's production company, Historia Films, focuses on making films in Mississippi.

"We're local. We're homegrown. We want to get the word out there that this is what we're doing and how we're doing it," he said.

Doleac made "The Historian" with producers, actors, production assistants, interns and videographers from Mississippi, on $375,000.

The feature-length film about a history professor who tries to escape his past by taking a job at a new university also starred William Sadler, Colin Cunningham and John Cullum, as well as local actress Tamarah Murley.

Much of the filming was done on USM's Hattiesburg campus, and a few scenes were filmed in Biloxi.

"To shoot in your hometown, you have this element that we have to make this the best that we possibly can," Jackson said.

Doleac started shooting in May 2013 and the film was ready for release Dec. 5. It has not been mass-released yet, although Doleac said he is in talks with a production company to make that happen. He wrote the script two summers ago.

Living in New Orleans, Doleac was inspired by filmmakers who were his age and making films in the Crescent City.

He knew he could do the same in Mississippi.

"'The Historian' became a bigger beast than any project that inspired me to do this," he said.

Doleac said he has high hopes for "The Hollow."

"We want to pool the resources of Hattiesburg and the Coast," he said.

Doleac will hire a full crew and many actors locally, just as he did for "The Historian."

"We are not Hollywood. We are a Mississippi-based production company," he said.

He said his company gets a 35 percent tax break for filming in Mississippi and having Mississippi actors and employees.

Offers are out to prominent Hollywood actors for some parts in "The Hollow," but Historia Films will hire many local actors.

"There are a ton of supporting acting roles that are going to go to Mississippi actors," he said.

Production for "The Hollow" is set to begin by July 2015. Doleac said a casting call on the Coast will be scheduled a couple months prior.

"This is a film set in Mississippi, written and directed by Mississippians," he said. "We're pulling that Band-aid back. Here's what Mississippi is, really. Here's a taste of Mississippi from a Mississippian's perspective."

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