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'The Majestic' films first scenes at South Mississippi horse show

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD 
 Michael Anglin works sound as Derek Bradley films a scene of the Majestic being filmed at the Gulf Coast Classic, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016. Director Rachel Gordon holds a reflector as actors Cy Parks and Mary Powers recite their lines.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD Michael Anglin works sound as Derek Bradley films a scene of the Majestic being filmed at the Gulf Coast Classic, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016. Director Rachel Gordon holds a reflector as actors Cy Parks and Mary Powers recite their lines.

GULFPORT -- The same day the first horses entered the Grand Prix arena for the Gulf Coast Winter Classic horse show at the Harrison County Fairgrounds, the cast and crew of the "The Majestic" began filming scenes on the other side of the fence.

And the two groups quickly learned to work with -- and around -- each other.

"The Majestic," the only feature film currently being shot in the state, is about a family that finds a runaway Arabian horse named Majestic. While the family tries to find the owner, a young girl becomes attached to the horse and two thieves try to steal it away.

Several scenes are being filmed using the Winter Classic -- one of the nation's premier hunter and jumper shows that attracts more than 1,000 horses each year -- as the background. The crew will likely be at the location on and off over the entire six-week show.

"This is the first day and the first scene. We're really excited to be here and excited to be bringing films to Mississippi," said Tracey Landrum, one of the film's producers. "We have some of the best film incentives in the nation but people in L.A. and New York don't know about us."

Movies such as "The Majestic" are not only a boost to the state's fledgling film industry, they also provide opportunities for Mississippi talent, several people involved with the film said Wednesday.

"We've been trying to do this for the longest time -- bring film to the area," said Charlotte Richardson, who worked on the movie's costumes and casting and teaches psychology and communication. "It's amazing how much talent we have in the area."

Landrum said a little more than half the people involved in the movie are from Mississippi.

On Wednesday, Landrum and director Rachel Gordon cruised around the fairgrounds -- which were filled with horses and riders training, competing, arriving and relaxing -- to scout a location to film.

They settled on a spot right next to the field near the road, where the highest-level show jumping competitions take place. The bright-green grass and colorful jumps served as a good backdrop, they decided.

After some discussion and some makeup touch-ups, filming began.

Mary Powers, who plays young Stormy, and Cy Parks, who portrays her father, Jeff Harris, hung out near the fence and delivered their lines.

Parks, who was born in Gulfport and now lives in Madison, said he was excited to start filming.

"I feel great about it," he said. "I've loved the script and the idea since I first heard it."

Parks was standing with Jones County actor Pine Purvis, who plays his "semi-alcoholic brother-in-law." The two had met while working on "The Free State of Jones," a film starring Matthew McConaughey that is in post-production, and spent a few minutes laughing about their antics on that set.

Two students and their teacher from a film class at Pass Christian Middle School -- the only film class of its kind in the area -- assisted the camera crew.

And horse show coordinator Janet McCarroll looked on, occasionally asking the crew to move or to lower a piece of equipment so it didn't interfere with the competition.

Mississippi residents still can get involved with the movie. Script rewrites and changes have opened up a leading role for a 12- to 16-year-old girl who is comfortable around horses.

Anyone interested can email auroratalent@yahoo.com.

Dasting director Teri Carter said the opportunity was a good example of what those involved in building the industry hope to accomplish -- building up and developing local talent. She admits it's been a problem on past movies that have opted to bring in outside cast and crews.

"We really want to utilize the state and its talent," she said.

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