By Sheena Barnett
TUPELO – The mystery film shot in Tupelo over the weekend is still a bit of a mystery.
The film’s producer, Ken Petrie, told the media on Tuesday that the independent film, “The Gift,” is about “a boy at the crossroads of his life – it’s a coming of age story.”
Would that boy happen to be Elvis Presley?
Petrie declined to say.
“I don’t want to give too much away,” he said. “If people can have a bit of patience and wait a couple of months, it’ll be special.”
Petrie’s London-based production company, 27 Ten Productions, filmed the 10-minute short film over three days in Tupelo.
Petrie and writer-director Gabriel Robertson looked for the perfect location to shoot the movie back in March and have worked in Tupelo for nearly a month before shooting the film over the weekend.
Scenes were shot in front of Tupelo Hardware – which required a part of Main Street to be shut down Saturday and Sunday – as well as on the front porch of the Elvis Presley Birthplace and a field in Lee County.
“It was important to us to film it here because we love it here,” he said. “It’s intertwined in the fabric of Tupelo.”
He declined to state the time period for the film, but classic cars from the 1930s and 1940s were on the set, and costumes appeared to be from that era, too.
When asked if the film was based on any true events, Petrie said it’s “punctuated with a couple of facts.”
The 65-member crew was made up of local and regional film professionals.
There were only three in the cast: Tupelo actress Amye Gousset; Los Angeles-based actor Xander Berkeley, who has starred on shows like “The Mentalist” and “Being Human,” as well as films like “Transcendence” and “Taken”; and a boy from Madison, Brady Permenter, who starred in James Franco’s film adaptations of William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying” and “The Sound and the Fury.”
Petrie has worked on special effects for films like “World War Z” and “Muppets Most Wanted,” as well as TV shows like “Call the Midwife.”
Petrie will return to London this morning, where he said he and his 27 Ten Productions team have another 12 projects they’re working on.
He expects “The Gift” to be finished in early 2015. From there, it will be shown at “high-level film festivals around the world,” he said, and they hope to return to Tupelo to show it at the Tupelo Film Festival.
He thanked Tupelo Film Commissioner Pat Rasberry for her help in making the filming process go as smoothly as possible.
“Tupelo was incredible – so welcoming, so fantastic. The Southern hospitality has lived up to the reputation that precedes it,” he said.
They’ve eaten at most restaurants in town and even taken in the PBR rodeo and The Beach Boys concert at the BancorpSouth Arena.
Petrie said he’d love it if he had the opportunity to film in Tupelo again.
“I believe in filming where it feels right, and if Tupelo feels right again, I have no doubt I’ll be back,” he said.
Follow the movie on Twitter at @TheGiftMovie.