LOCAL FOLKS: Tupelo High student tries view behind the camera

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Watching a movie – even a bad one – is infinitely easier than making a movie.
Sami Whitwell, an 18-year-old senior at Tupelo High School, is learning that lesson firsthand.
“I collect movies,” she said. “I’ve always been interested, especially as I got older, about how films are made.”
Whitwell estimates that she’s spent more than 15 hours gathering footage and putting it all together for her new short film.
“I’ve never shot anything this extensive before. It’s very tedious,” she said. “Filming is tough, but you also have all of the editing.”
THS seniors past and present will understand the extra push Whitwell has to complete her film. The half-hour documentary is her 2012 senior project.
She also has an additional deadline because “Eat Locally, Think Globally” will premiere at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Native Son Farm on Mount Vernon Road.
“I’ll probably be editing it until 6:30 p.m.,” Whitwell said.
She interviewed a variety of people about organic food, and filmed at Native Son Farm, Kroger and other locations. Part of the movie includes a taste test, where people got to see if they could tell a difference between locally grown produce and food that’s been shipped in.
“I feel like more people should be aware of the food they’re eating, and where it’s been before it gets to them,” Whitwell said.
Work on the project had to fit in with her other activities. Whitwell sings with THS Madrigals and Wave Connection, and runs with the cross country team. She’s also a member of the academic team, and she’s on track to be valedictorian.
“I’m No. 1 right now, anyway,” said Whitwell, the daughter of Dr. Earl and Valerie Whitwell. “Hopefully nothing will change between now and May.”
She said she prefers to be busy, and credits her time management skills with helping her keep on top of things.
“I don’t like to waste time,” she said.
Senior projects are supposed to stretch a student’s abilities, and Whitwell says she can check “Yes” on that box.
Going forward, she’s planning to study pre-med in college. She expects to pursue filmmaking as hobby, rather than a profession, but some of the skills she gained while making her documentary should come in handy when working with patients.
“I couldn’t just tell people what to say when I interviewed them,” Whitwell said. “My first idea was to ask a broad question and let them keep talking, but that didn’t work out as well as I wanted it to. I had to ask specific questions to get them talking. That’s what I learned.”

You’re Invited
WHAT: Screening of “Eat Locally, Think Globally” by Sami Whitwell

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

WHERE: Native Son Farm, 3811 Mount Vernon Road, Tupelo

TICKETS: Free, but please RSVP

INFO: (662) 790-3265

Click video to hear audio