By JB Clark
TUPELO – Itawamba Community College’s film club will be evolving in the coming year thanks to a more than $100,000 equipment donation from a filmmaker.
Kat Phillips, of Kat Scratch Films, presented a Sony Cinealta high-definition camera along with an HD monitor and other filming equipment to ICC officials at Malco Cinema on Saturday during the Tupelo Film Festival.
“This year marks the 10th anniversary of my very first film’s debut at the Tupelo Film Festival,” Phillips said. “Ron Tibbet and Pat Rasberry reinforced that I should stay in film when I was upset about the process of getting films into festivals. They said to stay with it and I did.”
Phillips, a Mississippi native, said since then, she has seen a wealth of filmmaking talent in Mississippi, especially in Tupelo, and wanted to help nurture that.
“There are a lot of extraordinarily talented kids – filmmakers – in Tupelo, and grown-ups too,” she said. “It’s like how a lot of great writers came out of Mississippi. The filmmakers just don’t have the resources to build their talent. This is really high-end equipment that will let them see the world in cinema quality.”
Itawamba Community College President Mike Eaton said thanks to the donation and the determination of the 30 film club members, the college will add film courses in the fall.
Phillips said Mississippi has wonderful and attractive tax incentives for filmmakers but a lack of film programs and industry exposure requires filmmakers to fly in film crew for their projects.
“When we shot here we had to fly in trained crew members, to have a program that trains crew for films would be another advantage,” she said.
Eaton said the college can now add a couple courses to “broaden the horizons for people who are interested in film. Now, we don’t have a film program yet, but certainly this is the first step in possibly developing something of that nature in the future.”
Phillips’ newest film, “Chasing the White Dragon,” was shot on the donated camera and has been named best feature, best drama feature narrative, best ensemble case, best screenplay and best supporting actor at various film festivals across the country.