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Local film 'Memory / Loss' being readied for its premiere

Thursday, August 7, 2008 | 7:35 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA - For the past two weeks, Sarah Phillips has awakened at 9 a.m. on weekdays, opened various editing programs on her computer at 10 a.m., taken an hour break for lunch, a later break for frozen custard and worked again until she fell asleep at 1 a.m.

After all that work, she has the first eight minutes and another 20 minutes from later parts of her first full-length feature film complete.

If you go

WHAT: "Memory / Loss," a movie made locally by a new MU graduate. A half-hour Q-and-A session with the cast, crew and director will follow.

WHERE: Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, 203 S. Ninth St.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Aug. 18. Doors open at 6 p.m.

ADMISSION: $5. Tickets can be purchased online at tickets.motheatre.org or at the door that evening.



"I just finished placing all of the songs from the local artists," Phillips said as her assistant director, Laura Wilson, sat down next to her at a Ninth Street restaurant recently.

Wilson, who is studying film at Stephens College, handed her a stack of CDs, most of which looked homemade. Phillips paused to glance through them.

"It's easier to get releases from local bands," she said.

Local is the only way with "Memory / Loss," which Phillips wrote and directed. Every scene in the movie was filmed in Columbia: Rock Bridge High School, the Heidelberg, Parker Funeral Home, the Upper Crust and so on. All of the music comes from local artists such as Wayfare, Tofer Brown and Ellie Come Home.

"The whole point is, everything is local," Phillips said. "It gives local musicians a chance to be good. I don't think we could find better music."

One featured musician is Josiah Bryan, a crew member responsible for sound, lighting and location. He was one of three crew members out of the original eight who stuck with Phillips through the 21 days of filming.

"I wrote a couple songs," said Bryan, who has played piano for 13 years. He is studying engineering at MU but is also interested in film as a career. "I wrote them specifically for the film."

Phillips, who graduated with a bachelor's degree from MU in May and heads to graduate school in Los Angeles soon, finished shooting on July 17 and is now in post-production. Each day, she goes into one of two modes: business or creative. While in business mode, Phillips took time to order posters - "You'll be seeing a lot more of these soon on community boards around downtown," she said - and to talk to businesses and get donations for the Aug. 18 premiere at the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts.

Phillips chose the Missouri Theatre because she thinks it is "so representative of Columbia."

"When I was younger, I always thought, ‘I'm going to make the Missouri Theatre better,'" Phillips said. "I think it's gorgeous, and it's great that it's been renovated. People who are curious about seeing the inside can now do so for only $5."

The Missouri Theatre was happy to comply when Phillips made her request. Executive Director David A. White III said the facility is designed to be a platform for local and national artists.

"When a young artist has worked as hard as Sarah obviously has, she deserves a platform to present her work so people can have the filmed experience to make a decision in their lives," White said. "That's what art does, it forces us into a decision. ‘Do I like it? Does it move me? Does it change my life? If I don't like it, what about my life do I not like? If I don't like what I see, what can I change?' Art does this very well."

Phillips has called "Memory / Loss" a "blessed film" because of the generous donations she received from local businesses and individuals, and from the people who have helped her bring this project to fruition.

"We're here because we want to be," Bryan said. "Not because we're getting paid - which we're not."

Phillips said that it has been difficult to be creative and business-minded at the same time. "I wouldn't trade it for anything," she said. "And I wouldn't do it again."

 


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