CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,
Sept. 17, 2009 – The film adaptation of an award-winning play by a Southeast Missouri State University faculty member has been accepted as a finalist into the American Artist Film Festival.
The film, “Fire Lily,” written by Dr. Kenneth Stilson, professor of theatre and dance, will premiere at the festival, held in Hannibal, Mo., Sept. 24-26. This year’s finalists consist of films from France, Australia, The United Kingdom, Japan, China, Russia, Iran and others from across the United States. The American Artist Film Festival (AAFF) was organized to allow independent film makers an opportunity to gain regional, national and international recognition and awards. Films may be showcased through AAFF affiliations in Los Angeles, New York, and Kansas City. AAFF is an international film festival and applications are accepted from all over the world and in all genres of films. Winners are selected by a judging panel of film industry professionals, business professionals, and AAFF executives. AAFF’s vision is to be the premiere venue in North America for filmmakers from all over the world to present their independent film work in all categories and genre, and to provide aspiring filmmakers with excellent opportunities for networking and promotion of their work and talent.
Independent filmmaker Victory Film Productions began filming in 2006 based on Stilson’s script. Stilson says the film is a pulsating story of a young woman who endures turbulent times but emerges ready to leave the confines of her lonely world.
“’Fire Lily’ is the tale of a sparkling person trapped in a putrid existence,” he said. “It’s partly inspired by Henrik Ibsen’s great 19th-century drama, ‘A Doll’s House.’ It is a ‘coming-of-age’ film about the maturation of a 22-year-old girl living in a small Midwestern town who emerges from the drama of love, sex and relationships.”
Fred Jones, Southeast associate professor of mass media, said he and his wife Shirlee Wilson assisted Stilson in adapting the play into a feature-length screenplay. Together, Jones and Wilson served as creative consultants to Stilson.
Several Southeast students were heavily involved in the production of the film. Bart Elfrink of Jackson, Mo., first assistant director, said his primary job was to help Stilson realize his vision.
“I’ve worked on films before, but nothing like this one,” Elfrink said. “This was a whole new experience for everyone involved.”
Ryan Maurer, director of photography, said his responsibilities included taking control of lighting, shot framing, focal points, shot selection and the movement of the camera.
“Basically, I was responsible for how the film looks,” Maurer said. “In post-production, I worked with the editors to ensure the vision of the film was preserved or adjusted according to Kenn’s direction. Color correction and shot selection was essential in post-production.”
The film was shot at around 20 locations, from Eclipse Hair Studio in Cape Girardeau to Amidon Conservation Area near Fredericktown, Mo., to southern Illinois.
Stilson’s original play, titled “Where the Lilies Grow,” won the critics award at the Edward Albee Theatre Conference and was performed in Hollywood at the Hudson Theatre by the American Academy of Dramatic Art. From there, it was re-written with the title “Independence Day” and selected by Victory Film Productions, Inc. However, in light of the blockbuster flick of the same title, Stilson re-named it “Fire Lily.”