Last week, the Mississippi Film Office hosted a screening of “My Dog Skip” for metro and state media professionals. Reporters, writers, anchors and editors, a notoriously cynical bunch, walked out of the Ridgeland theatre with misty eyes and melancholic smiles.
The film, based on a book by Mississippi literary giant Willie Morris, who died unexpectedly in Jackson Aug. 2, captures the essence of childhood, growing up and learning, painfully, at times, about what matters most in life – love and loyalty.
It was a sad time for many in the audience who knew Willie, and as his story unfolded, even those who didn’t know him, wished that he could have been there. What a story it is. The film opens in Mississippi this February, so we won’t reveal the details here. However, it is worth mentioning the crucial role the Mississippi Film Office played in “My Dog Skip’s” production, along with a wide variety of other projects it has brought to Mississippi.
The film office, under the direction of Ward Emling, has blossomed into a vibrant cog within the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development, one of the state’s great business success stories.
Movies made in Mississippi about Mississippi contribute to the state’s economy in a number of ways. Directly, money is poured into local economies wherever filming takes place. Indirectly, but perhaps much more important, great films, like “My Dog Skip,” go a long way in setting the record straight on what Mississippi and Mississippians are all about as we come to terms with history and move forward together.
As Emling pointed out last Tuesday, a decade or so ago, Hollywood was giving us “Mississippi Burning.” Now, we have “A Time to Kill,” “Ghosts of Mississippi” or “My Dog Skip” – films in which, ultimately, good conquers evil and justice triumphs.
In February, go see “My Dog Skip.” You can take your children and your mama, too. You’ll see a great story, and one that’s “two thumbs up” for Mississippi business.