An independent film shot in part in Bay St. Louis -- and featuring Linda Hamilton of "Terminator" fame -- will screen today at the Southern State Indie Fan Film Festival in Biloxi.
"Easy Does It," described as a "retro-stylized '70s road movie," will kick off the fest at 7 p.m. at the Palace Casino Resort.
"The film is a road adventure about the unlikely friendship between two scrappy anti-heroes and their accidental hostage as they rob their way across America," according to a press release from Worklight Pictures.
"The movie was quite a journey," Ben Matheny, an Ocean Springs native who co-wrote and produced the film as well as starring in it -- said Tuesday. "We, all of us that came together to make this movie, we all met in film school at the University of New Orleans around 2009 and 2010, and we all had big dreams.
"This was really a dream come true, it was really a great opportunity. We're lucky that in New Orleans, there is a good film industry and we're able to get so much work. … Not only in New Orleans, but also in south Mississippi, where we shot a lot of this film."
Of the total six weeks spent shooting the picture, Matheny said, the crew spent about five days filming in Bay St. Louis.
"A few key scenes that are set on beaches that are actually supposed to be in California were going to be shot in Texas," Matheny said, "but thankfully, we had beautiful beaches not even an hour from our home base in New Orleans.
"We got a tremendous amount of support from all of the communities in South Mississippi. The community in Mississippi really blew everybody away with their generosity and their openness and their offer to support us any way they could. In Mississippi, they really went above and beyond. Several Gulf Coast restaurants donated food and the town council of Bay St. Louis, not only let us shoot on their beautiful beaches, but also let us use the council chambers.
"I'm just blown away by how supportive everybody was. I don't know if you could find that anywhere else in the country."
Matheny said the Mississippi Film Commission was also incredibly helpful and doesn't get the recognition it should.
"The Mississippi Film Commission really does a good job and I think that's something people aren't really aware of
And while they're helping filmmakers and artists, they're also supporting the local economy, whether it's catering from a restaurant, or getting supplies from a local store or getting hotel rooms for actors. … They make it really easy for filmmakers to come in from New Orleans or Atlanta or L.A. or anywhere to come here and experience and showcase the culture of Mississippi."
In addition to Matheny and Hamilton, the film also features Bryan Batt, Dwight Henry and the vocal talents of John Goodman and Harry Shearer, as well as original music from Patrick Carney of The Black Keys.
Since the film’s premiere at the New Orleans Film Festival, it has won 10 awards on the festival circuit, including multiple best picture honors and wins for director, screenplay and for Linda Hamilton’s performance, according to the press release.
"It's fun to watch," Matheny said. "It's a good time at the movies. It's not really for kids, but otherwise something that everyone in the family can enjoy. It's kind of a crowd-pleaser. … It's a movie about following one's dreams, even when that's a bit foolhardy.
"It's a cool thing to think about in this day and age, but it's totally possible to have a dream and pursue it. I'm pursuing my dream as an actor, and I think there are a lot of folks in Mississippi who can work in their dream field, whatever that might be."
The festival is scheduled to conduct its awards ceremony on Friday, where "Easy Does It" is nominated for Best
of Fest, Best Southern State Film, Best Actor (nominations for both of its leads, Ben Matheny and Matthew Martinez), Best Supporting Actress (Linda Hamilton), Best Supporting Actor (Bryan Batt), Best Cinematography and Best Director.
For more information on Easy Does It, follow the production on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter. For tickets and
information please visit: https://filmfreeway.com/SouthernStatesIndieFanFilmFest/tickets.