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Brewer-directed 'Empire' episode is tonight (Oct. 7)

John Beifuss writes in The Commercial Appeal about Memphis director Craig Brewer’s latest projects, including an episode of the wildly popular “Empire” that will be broadcast Wednesday at 8 p.m. (Central) on the Fox network.

“Empire” stars Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard who were also in Brewer’s “Hustle & Flow” 10 years ago (a client project of the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission).

Beifuss quotes Brewer as saying the episode "Fires of Heaven," has "the typical twists and turns of the wonderful 'Empire' universe, but the music I think is crazy good.”

The story also notes that Brewer has just completed shooting the pilot episode of a proposed Fox network/Paramount Television series, "Urban Cowboy."

Read Beifuss’ story here.

(Craig Brewer photo by Jamie Harmon)



Memphis GoPro FilmFest Oct. 2

There will be a screening of four short films submitted by Memphis finalists of the GoPro FilmFest Competition. The event is at the FedEx Institute of Technology is Friday, Oct. 2, with a reception at 5:30 p.m. and screening at 6 p.m.

Winner will receive GoPro Hero4 Black and $500. Runners-up will receive a GoPro Hero4 Silver.

The finalists are: “Skate is Life” by Kevin Brooks, “The Summer Experience” by Sam Chapman, “Ocean Front Dream” by Nicole Robbins and “Brazil 2015” by Hannah Williams.

The primary focus in this contest is on the use of the technology, GoPro Cameras, to achieve something innovative, exciting and which exhibits the technical possibility of the equipment.

The rules were that films could be no longer than 10 minutes, should incorporate original GoPro footage and the subject matter should embrace innovative film techniques, creative approaches, and original subject matter.

The event, at FedEx Institute of Technology at The University of Memphis, 365 Innovation Drive, is free.

For more info click here:

Partner organizations are Indie Memphis and Fuel Film Memphis.



Board meeting Wednesday, Sept. 16

The next Board Meeting of the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission is at noon on Wednesday, September 16th, at Malco's Studio on the Square, 2105 Court Ave. in Overton Square. Attendees who are not Board members who wish to be included on the meeting's agenda can submit for consideration individual requests and topics prior to the meeting date. Please email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



Memphis-made 'Free in Deed' wins award, praise at Venice Film Festival

The made-in-Memphis film “Free in Deed” won the Best Film prize in the Horizons section of the Venice Film Festival.

“Variety” reported today that: “U.S. director Jake Mahaffy’s ‘Free In Deed,’ set in the world of storefront churches in Memphis, Tennessee, took the top prize in the Horizons section. Jonathan Demme headed the jury of that section, which is dedicated to fresher, more cutting edge fare.” Read the story here.

The independent film stars British actor David Harewood (“Homeland”) and Los Angeles-based Edwina Findley (“The Wire,” “Treme”), with the rest of the cast and much of the crew from Memphis. The film is a client project of the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission.

Director/writer Jake Mahaffy has been working for years to bring the project to life. It was originally going to be shot in Detroit, but producer Mike Ryan convinced Mahaffy to shoot in Memphis. Other producers are Michael Bowes and Brent Stiefel. Memphians Ryan Watt, Nicki Newberger and Adam Hohenberg are associate producers.

Most of the jobs in the film’s production went to local people. There were about 20 in the crew, including Morgan Jon Fox (unit production manager and second assistant director), Gloria Belz (hair/makeup) and Sarah Fleming (first assistant director). Among the 51 locals with speaking roles are RaJay Chandler, Preston Shannon, Libra Mitchell, Helen Bowman, Phil Darius Wallace, Lindsey Roberts, Billie Worley, Robert Saba, Candace Clough McGowen, Jan Falk, Alex Coker, Geoff Falk, Porsha Ferguson and Jon W. Sparks.

A strongly positive review by Jessica Kiang for The Playlist concluded:

"This small, slow-paced film, deeply upsetting and narrow in scope, is a hard watch. In refusing to offer any easy answers, and in running precisely counter to the sickly angels-among-us narratives of the current, growing faith-based filmmaking movement, it's an even harder sell. But Mahaffy's uncompromising approach, and the quality of its performances, make it a rare and valuable testament: to the terrible danger of believing in miracles, and to the cruelty of a world that might make such belief necessary."

Pictured: Producer Mike Ryan



FAQs on the incentives for Memphis/Shelby County film projects

There is good news for filmmakers in that state film/TV funds have been reserved to incentivize Memphis/Shelby County-based projects.

Earlier this year, state and local officials met and agreed to set aside $4 million in incentive funds just for qualified local projects! Do you want to know if your future production could be qualified to receive a 25 percent cash refund after all your in-state expenses are filed? Some of the most frequently asked questions about the incentives can be found on the Incentives page on this site. Click here to learn more. You'll find answers to many questions about incentives plus information on where to go and who to contact for more details. 


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