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To create the poster for her short film, Mary Moore hand sketched and hand painted this eerie scene illustrating “Over Your Shoulder.”

Theatre to screen Red Bay native’s short film

Red Bay’s Mary Moore chose to attend Itawamba Community College to pursue and hone her artistic passions. Long associated as an actress with the Bay Tree Council for the Performing Arts, Moore began to stretch her talents. This week she will see success in a new facet of the arts when her short film – which she wrote, directed and produced – is screened as part of a special event in Baldwyn, Miss.

For Moore’s film production class at ICC, her final exam involved not a written test but the production of her own short film, putting the principles and techniques she learned throughout the spring semester to the test. 

Moore said she and her classmates drew their assigned film genres out of a hat. As luck would have it, Moore plucked out suspense/thriller, and she already had the perfect screenplay in mind: one she had written and entered – and for which she won first place – in the Mississippi Community College Creative Writing Contest.

There was only one problem: timing. 

“When we drew genres, I was already involved in a play. I only had a few days when I didn’t have practice,” Moore said. With a looming deadline, Moore was able to block out a short shooting window and an even shorter production window. “I only had one day to edit it.”

Moore’s film, “Over Your Shoulder,” incorporates three actors – two human and one feline. 

“Everything is about imagery. There’s no talking; the only sounds are the white noise you hear from the home, the cat meowing, and there is some music, but there’s no dialogue,” Moore explained. 

Moore’s instructor, Morgan Cutturini, praised the five-minute film, saying Moore showed a firm grasp of shooting and storytelling. 

“You tell Mary something one time, and she’s got it,” said Cutturini, who called the film “perfection.” She said the film “uses many suspense techniques that are pretty common, but you don’t know it. She just has picked up on it … Every shot is something that just creates suspense and tells the story bit by bit. By the end it hits you with a bang and comes out of nowhere. It’s really creative storytelling and beautiful shots.”

With her esteem for the film, Moore’s creation was top of mind when Cutturini was hit with a special request. Clark Richey and Amye Gousset of Six Shooter Studios in Baldwyn were making plans for their premiere of a new series they have created titled Death Stalkers Paranormal – and they needed a spooky opening act. 

Cutturini showed them Moore’s film, and she said they loved it. “Over Your Shoulder” fit the bill and will precede the main event, coupled with an onstage Q&A with Moore, July 27 at 7 p.m. at Claude Gentry Theatre in Baldwin, Miss. 

“At first I was a little stunned of course because – many creators are like this: they don’t understand why people like what they have made. It’s like a self-conscience issue,” Moore said. “I was really stunned they liked it enough – especially people like them who have been in the industry a long time. I was really excited and shocked.”

As the creator, Moore said she is critical of some aspects of the production. There’s one scene she forgot to film, and she wasn’t able to use the angles she originally hoped for because of limited equipment and limited experience. She said perfecting the audio balance was a challenge, particularly since the day she edited the film was the first day she had ever used the editing software. 

Despite those challenges, however, Moore said she enjoyed the process of making the film and wants to continue in film and theater, as well as writing, as she tries to determine her ultimate career goals. “I really liked watching it come together the way I wanted it to.”

Fellow film class student Cierra Tucker plays the female lead, while BTCPA contemporary Koley Kent plays the male lead. Moore’s pet cat Luigi plays the cat. He is one of four cats Moore has, but she said he was the obvious choice for the role. “He wants to sit in your lap, he follows you around and he’s really talkative,” Moore said. “The other cats are all well-behaved, but they aren’t as easy-going as he is … If I ever need a cat again, it will probably be Luigi.”

While Moore said she is excited her film has been so well-received, she also has her doubts. “I’m really surprised and sort of in disbelief, and now I’m worried about disappointing people as we go forward and continuing to provide entertaining content,” Moore said. 

One other thing troubles her, as well. 

“I’m a little worried about the Q&A,” Moore admitted. “When I’m driving to work or going to the store, I will talk about the film to myself so that I’ll know what to say when people ask questions. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself.”

Admission for the event is $5. Tickets can be purchased online at Eventbrite.com.