3 Ga. film­mak­ers show­case their work at RIFF

Make no mis­take the Rome In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val draws na­tional and in­ter­na­tional work, how­ever lo­cal films from Ge­or­gia film mak­ers will make a strong ap­pear­ance this year as well.

Rome News-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - By John Popham JPopham@RN-T.com

This week­end is all about in­de­pen­dent films in Rome as the 15th an­nual Rome In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val has a full sched­ule of celebrity guests and Ge­or­gia film­mak­ers.

Justin O’Neal Miller, for ex­am­ple, will be screen­ing his 13-minute film “Peggy;” his fourth film to write, pro­duce, di­rect and bring to RIFF. The movie is set at a child’s birth­day party but fo­cuses en­tirely on the adults who are se­cretly try­ing to un­der­mine the host­ess’s so­cial sta­tus. The film ex­plores the na­ture of so­cial me­dia and the cul­ture of cov­et­ing un­der the sur­face, Miller said. The film has screened at four fes­ti­vals in North Amer­ica so far, and has won awards at three of them. The film fea­tures At­lanta tal­ent from it pro­duc­tion crew to its lead ac­tress.

“It’s an At­lanta born and bred short film,” Miller said.

Peggy her­self, Sarah Black­man, is an At­lanta na­tive who has been in­volved in sev­eral Ge­or­gia based pro­duc­tions in­clud­ing “Sweet Home Alabama,” “The Hunger Games: Mock­ing­jay Part 2,” and was a per­former in the Su­per Bowl XXXIV half­time show when it was at the Ge­or­gia Dome in 2000. This is her first in­de­pen­dent film she said. When she first looked at the script, Black­man said she im­me­di­ately thought of the woman who al­ways seems to go over­board at chil­dren’s par­ties, the one who seems so per­fect and has it all to­gether.

“We all know a ver­sion,” she said. “We all have a lit­tle Peggy in us.”

Di­rec­tor Miller said his in­spi­ra­tion for this film was at his son’s own birth­day party when his son opened a gift that he would not have been al­lowed to have oth­er­wise. Chil­dren’s par­ties are just as much about the par­ents who show up to pry, gos­sip and un­der­mine parenting styles he said.

Miller is a Ge­or­gia Tech grad­u­ate where he stud­ied ar­chi­tec­ture as well as some film. He got more in­volved with film­mak­ing dur­ing the eco­nomic down­turn in 2008, when he worked as an as­sis­tant art di­rec­tor on films “Pitch Per­fect 3,” “The Hunger Games: Mock­ing­jay Parts 1 & 2” and sev­eral oth­ers. His four short films he has writ­ten, di­rected and pro­duced are “Peggy,” “The Roach,” “Resti­tu­tion” and “A Lady Can Live Through Any­thing.”

“Peggy” will be the first of the Eter­nal Fire: Do­mes­tic Shorts show­ing at 1 p.m. on Satur­day.

Two note­wor­thy lo­cals from Berry, one a pro­fes­sor and the other an alumni, will also have their films screened this week­end.

Ac­cord­ing to a Berry news re­lease:

Pro­fes­sor Brian Campbell’s film “To King­dom Come” and alum­nus Ryan Sim­mons’ film “Run­ning A.T. Full Speed” will be shown Satur­day in the Rome City Au­di­to­rium. Campbell’s will be at 11 a.m. and Sim­mons’ will be at 1:30 p.m.

“To King­dom Come” presents the bat­tle be­tween Rome’s river keep­ers and Gen­eral Elec­tric over PCBs, which are a group of man­made or­ganic chem­i­cals con­sist­ing of car­bon, hy­dro­gen and chlo­rine atoms.

Sim­mons di­rected the film “Run­ning A.T. Full Speed,” which presents the jour­ney of Drew Bur­nett, a former pas­tor in Rome, as he at­tempts to raise $100,000 for the or­phans of Uganda. The film cap­tures the story of Bur­nett as he strives to break the speed record on the Ap­palachian Trail of 46 days and 11 hours.

Tickets for each film cost $10 and can be bought at rif­fga.com. The sched­ule and de­tails of other films show­ing can also be found at the web­site.

Brian Campbell, Berry pro­fes­sor and film­maker

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