Tag Archives: True Grit

Oxford Film Festival 2011

Last year, thanks to the encouragement of local actor Johnny McPhail (he has a posse, too!), Brittany and I attended the Oxford Film Festival. We’d never been before and Johnny said it’d be a great opportunity for Brittany to meet some “important” folks. Johnny had seen Brittany perform at the Powerhouse Theater here in Oxford and had really taken a liking to Brittany’s acting. In fact, he was incredibly helpful to Brittany when she auditioned for the Coen Brothers recently released film, True Grit. Some of you will remember that Brittany got a “call-back” audition. She didn’t get the part, but it was a fun experience for her.

So, we went.

And, she did indeed get to meet some “important” folks. (see attached pictures. YOU see if you know who they are) We watched some indy flicks, stayed for the Award Ceremonies and the “after” party—which last year was before the ceremony because of some technical glitch—which, oddly enough, seemed to work out better as far as mulling about and schmoozing. In general, it was a fun time.

So when it came time to go again this year, we were both ready to go. I bought tickets online early and looked over the schedule pretty closely, picking out a lineup of films I thought would be both interesting and “safe” to watch. (I’ve found that many, many independent films—which are not rated by the Motion Picture Industry—are often full of, let’s just say, unnecessary junk). There was additional excitement this year because Brittany and Brett both had tiny speaking roles in “The Hanging of Big Todd Wade,” a locally made short film made by Micah Ginn, who—although he is a diehard Black Bear fan—I’ve grown to respect because of his growing body of creative work AND his commitment to doing and promoting as much local work as possible. Needless to say, we had fun doing it—even though it was freezing the entire time we were there (and I got to wear my Confederate reenacting clothes, sans musket and gun belt.).

We went to the award ceremonies and I actually was more aware of the films and tried to pay attention. In general, these things put me to sleep and I never, ever (EVER!) watch award ceremonies of any kind on television. No, not even bowl game awards or super bowl awards. I mean, games over, somebody won, move on. (Okay, I confess I watch when the Hogs win, but that’s it!)

I found that my opinion was almost the exact opposite of the judges in nearly every instance. The animation segment was probably the most glaring as my top pick didn’t even make the top three! This surprised me. But I also found it funny that most of the winners made some sort of statement like “this is the best thing to ever happen to me in my life.” Now, I have no idea what kind of lives they’ve led, and I’m in no way trying to downplay the Oxford Film Festival (Hey! It’d be neat if something I’d written was shown at a future event)…but, the best thing of their life? It is an incredible honor, of that there is no doubt…but the best thing of their life?


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Auditioning: the call back

So when Brittany received word that they wanted her to return for a second interview for the role of Mattie in the upcoming Coen Brothers’ remake of True Grit, (I noticed after reading my last entry that I forgot to mention the movie) you can just imagine she was very excited. And so were everyone we know! She was given two and a half pages of lines, some directions on what to wear or what look to have, and told to come back the following week.

On the way home, Brittany worked her cellphone, calling everyone in her directory. Each hang-up was preceded with “don’t post it on Facebook until I do.” No, we don’t have twitter, so she’d have to wait until she got to an actual computer. The mass auditions were Saturday; she was to return Tuesday morning.

They told her several things: be natural, don’t listen to your parents, and don’t watch the movie. They didn’t want the girls watching the movie and trying to act like the original. Instead, they told the would-be actresses that the Coen Brothers were going to go for a truer adaptation of the novel.

So, we hunted high and low for the novel. BJ found it at U.M.’s library and then waited for two and a half hours until a librarian showed up so she could check it out. All the while, Brittany was reading away. She went to school on Monday and I picked her up just after lunch so she could get back and finish the book and work on her lines. She finished reading the novel by late-mid-afternoon Monday and had all her lines memorized as well.

BJ fixed her up with a western looking outfit and I supplied her with a slouch hat I use for reenacting and she looked quite the part (though when she showed up for the camera, they told her to ditch the hat because they wanted to see her face). We didn’t leave quite as early this time because we had a “scheduled” time.

Brittany and other would-be Matties wait in the Hotel lobby.

And it went well…and very fast! When they began taking the girls, Brittany was one of the first in front of the camera (we don’t know yet if being one of the first is a good, bad or neutral thing). She was back down in the hotel lobby within twenty minutes, which really surprised me.

And now…we wait. They won’t call her if she didn’t make it, but they also said it would be at least four weeks before they decide anything. Brittany has that day marked on her calendar. Regardless of whether she gets it or not, she has had a blast.

And that’s what’s important.

Lastly…today marks the 49th year that my Mom and Dad have been married. Yes, they were married on Christmas Eve. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! We love you!


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Auditioning for a major Hollywood role

For those of you are on Facebook, you already know this, but the Mann family is excited as all-get-out that Brittany has auditioned for a major role in an upcoming Hollywood movie. Yes, you’re not reading incorrectly, it’s true.

Now, we fully realize it’s a long shot for her to get the part (and she realizes it, too), but it’s a shot nonetheless. And Brittany is so excited to have had the opportunity to even do it. We really just stumbled upon it.

On Dec. 4,5 and 6, Brittany played the part of Imogene in the local production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Through that, she met some very talented folks and some very connected folks. We didn’t realize it at the time—Brittany just wanted to act. At the rehearsal on Wednesday, 12/2, Ashley Vlach, the man who played the Dad in the play asked if we’d heard about an audition for a Coen Brothers movie in Memphis. We hadn’t, of course. Ashley received the notice via some of the Mississippi acting e-lists he’s on, and gladly passed that info on to us (along with a couple of other possibilities for Brittany). The problem was the audition began at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Brittany’s performance was at 2 p.m. that same day…and the audition was 1.5 hours away.

After carefully calculating the time, though, –and deciding not to tell the play’s director—BJ and I decided that we could make the drive up and if we left by a certain time, could be back in time for the play. It gave us a very small window—about an hour and a half—to be seen. I thought it would be iffy, but we decided to make the trip (keep in mind we’d just hit the deer and were down to 1 vehicle—my truck!).

So, Brittany and I drove up to Olive Branch on Friday night after the opening performance and stayed with my sister, Angie. We got up at 5 a.m. and made our way to the hotel, arriving at just around 6. Only to find…

No one there.

Yes, Brittany and I were very surprised, also. We were anticipating huge lines. Those came later. But, we were the first ones there and were the only ones there until about 8. From 8-9 only a few others straggled in…but they began arriving in force at 9.

I must also say that I was very impressed with several of the parents who, when the lines turned into mobs, were quick to mention that Brittany was first in line. That really surprised me. As it turned out, Brittany did indeed go in with the first group of 10 girls and made the “first impression” cut (I call it that because I don’t really know what else to call it). She was given a few pages of lines and told to come back.

That story next time! J


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