[Note: this story has been modified since its original posting to correct errors.]
Phyllis Ward came to the Missouri Theatre Monday night with a Popsicle to help fend off the sweltering heat. She had one goal in mind when she arrived two hours early for the screening of “Killer Diller.” Ward wanted to see herself on the big screen.
“When we were filming, the director said she was impressed with the way I rolled my eyes,” Ward said as she waited outside for the doors to open. “So I’m really excited; my sons and I are definitely hoping to catch a glimpse.”
They weren’t disappointed. Once the movie began, Ward squealed and chatted excitedly with members of her family when they saw her on screen. She was in more than three scenes, and she said it was worth the wait.
“It took me some time to realize it was actually me in the movie. I was a little surprised I looked as good as I did,” Ward said. “To attend the premiere of something I’m a part of — it’s just an incredible opportunity, and very, very exciting.”
The Missouri Theatre was filled to capacity with more than 1,200 in attendance when it presented a special screening of “Killer Diller,” a movie that was filmed in mid-Missouri last summer.
The film’s director, MU alumna Tricia Brock, as well as star Lucas Black, attended the screening Monday. Black has appeared in successful motion pictures “Cold Mountain,” “Sling Blade” and “All the Pretty Horses,” among others. In “Killer Diller,” he stars as an autistic piano player in a halfway house blues band. Black said he fell in love with mid-Missouri when he came for the filming.
“From the bottom of my heart,” Black told the audience in his Southern drawl, “I just want to thank you. It was a great experience.”
Applause and laughter arose throughout the audience whenever people were recognized on the big screen. Most members of the audience knew director Tricia Brock or were extras during the filming.
“My family and friends all came with me and every time we saw me up there, we clapped,” MU student Abbie Claiborne said. “During the filming, we made friends with the actors, so it was cool to see them because we were watching our friends up there.”
Immediately following the screening, Brock and Black answered questions from the audience. A reception followed at the Cherry Street Artisan, for which all 125 tickets were sold in advance.
Missouri Film Commission Director Jerry Jones attended the screening and reception. The Film Commission, the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Missouri Theatre were the driving forces that brought the screening to Columbia.
“We scout all the time for productions,” Jones said. “We’ve gotten calls from people who know what it’s like to shoot in Missouri. What they’ve already noticed is that “Killer Diller” came here, made a movie on a budget, were able to keep that budget, and that counts for a lot. They know what the incentives are and they’re inquiring about what we have.”
Brock said the low cost and untouched scenery convinced her to film in Missouri.
“The Missouri Film Commission gives a tax credit,” Brock said.
“It’s a fantastic incentive, and Missouri has so many unspoiled locations — places people have never seen.”
The movie’s design consultant, George Terbovich, was also in attendance, viewing the movie for the fourth time.
“Every time I see it I like it a little better,” Terbovich said. “You don’t see many films so upbeat and real.”