TUPELO – Filmmaker and reporter Melanie Addington knows a good story when she sees one.
When she was working as a reporter at the Oxford Eagle, she watched the story of Kevin Curtis and Everett Dutschke unfold and knew the story needed to be on the big screen.
“I kept talking to everyone, saying, ‘This should be a movie.’ Finally a producer friend of mine was like, ‘Oh, why don’t you do it?’” she said.
Addington, who’s based in Oxford, hasdirected short narratives and documentaries, including “Mile High Pie,” which is currently winning awards on the film festival circuit.
Armed with her director of photography, Daniel Perea, and a group of producers including Hudson Hickman, a New Albany native who now works in Hollywood, she began filming the documentary, “I Didn’t Do It,” last year.
The film includes taglines like, “A celebrity impersonator framed by a karate instructor for trying to poison the president: A True Story” and “A feud of federal proportions,” and Addington said the story is really about the feud between Dutschke and Curtis.
“It’s two men just butting heads. It has nothing to do with ricin or terrorism or the president – that’s the catchy headline part. They’re two similar men in a small town, and it’s about the great lengths they went to to get at each other,” she said.
In April 2013, federal agents showed up at Curtis’ Corinth apartment and insisted he’d mailed threatening letters containing ricin, driven by his frustrations over not being taken seriously about his personal investigation into an alleged body parts trafficking conspiracy he claimed operated out of Tupelo’s North Mississippi Medical Center.
In the end, the government couldn’t prove any connection between Curtis and the poison ricin, which was discovered in letters mailed from Tupelo to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland.
Curtis pointed to his arch rival, martial arts instructor Dutschke. Dutschke is now in federal custody after pleading guilty in the letter scheme and framing attempt.
Addington is still waiting to get clearance to interview Dutschke in jail, but most of the film has been shot. Still, the film needs $50,000 to pay for its completion, and folks can donate to the project through a crowdfunding website, IndieGoGo.
“We still have quite a bit in production and we have to pay for news clips, Elvis songs. It’s all very expensive. And then we have to pay an editor and composer to get the film finished,” Addington said.
So far Addington has raised more than $2,000 of her $50,000 goal and donations can be made through mid-May.
There are incentives for donors, including a signed photo of Curtis, dinner with the filmmakers, film credits and a raffle ticket to win prizes from local businesses.
Addington expects the film to be completed in late 2014 or early 2015, and regardless of whether it goes on the festival circuit or gets distributed, she expects an Oxford premiere.
To see a trailer for “I Didn’t Do It” and to donate, visit indiegogo.com/projects/i-didn-t-do-it-a-documentary.