Gulfport, Mississippi is in the spotlight this summer as Hollywood crews are in the area filming the upcoming disaster movie Impact Earth, directed by Rex Piano, starring Tom Berenger. Filming began last week at the convenience store Country Kwik Stop in South Mississippi. Other filming locations for Impact Earth include Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College's Jefferson Davis campus, Mississippi Gulf Coast Studios, Tradition Parkway, St. Patrick's High School, and Pass Christian.
Mike Bowen, owner of Country Kwik Stop near Lyman, was thrilled when the producers asked to film at his convenience store. Filming took place in the store and at the gas pump. It's exciting to have a feature film shot in your own store. Bowen has no doubt his customers will be talking about this movie for a while. "I'm sure it will create excitement with the customer base and bring notoriety to the store," said Bowen. "Anything like that is good for business."
It's a win-win situation for both the owner and the production. "It gives you the feeling of a southern state country store," said associate producer Barker White on filming at Country Kwik Stop. "It has the flavor of living in the Mississippi country."
The director loves his experience filming in the state because the people, hospitality and film locations have all been amazing. “I’ve loved shooting everything in Mississippi, except for the rain,” said Piano.
The list of feature films shot in Mississippi is quite long and includes - among many other movies - Ghosts of Mississippi, My Dog Skip, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? and my own personal favorites The Help, Walk The Line, and A Time to Kill.
Gary Carpenter, a local resident in Southern Mississippi, finally gets to experience what it's like to have a film crew working in his home and backyard for a day. How did it all start? Producer Paula Lindsay and director Rex Piano were driving in the neighborhood, when Piano spotted Carpenter's house and thought it was the perfect location. A location scout then dropped off a business card asking for permission to use his house as a film location. Carpenter immediately agreed. Nestled in a neighborhood behind Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College's Jeff Davis Campus, his house somehow fits the bill perfectly as one of the film locations for Impact Earth.
The Carpenters boarded their dogs next door to get ready for the 14-hour day of filming. "I even got a bit part," Carpenter said. "They zoomed in on me and I made a stupid face, and they had to re-shoot it five times."
Mississippi’s film industry has been steadily growing these past few years. Rob King, one of the owners of Mississippi Gulf Coast Studios, decided to buy the building after his experience working on Category 5 (starring Burt Reynolds) in 2013. "I really saw a great opportunity and fell in love with this place," King said.
He also believes that South Mississippi’s convenient location to other large southern cities makes the area a hot location for filming. How hot? Well, there are currently 15 other projects in the pipeline for Mississippi.
The Impact Earth production hires local crew and staff members, and even local actors such as Jordan Salloum (Oldboy). Sarah Bowen, daughter of Country Kwik Stop owner Mike Bowen, made her film debut with a non-speaking role in the film.
Impact Earth is a disaster movie about a NASA worker who can predict when a meteor will hit the earth. Filmed entirely in Mississippi, the sci-fi movie is scheduled for release early next year.
Other notable recent productions in Mississippi includes the James Brown film Get on Up (filmed in Jackson and Natchez), The Hollars directed by John Krasinski and starring Krasinski and Anna Kendrick (filmed in Jackson), Ryan Reynolds' Mississippi Grind (filmed at the IP Casino in Biloxi), and Midnight Special starring Kirsten Dunst (filmed in the Tradition community). The latter two are now in post-production. Next year, The Hollow, a murder mystery set in a fictional Mississippi town, will be filmed in Hattiesburg and South Mississippi.