‘Fire Lily’ Filmed in Southeast Missouri



July 5, 2007 – Southeast Missouri is the setting for a movie once again – only this time, the script was written by a Southeast Missouri State University faculty member. Dr. Kenneth Stilson’s award-winning play “Fire Lily” was picked up by the independent filmmaker Victory Film Productions and is currently being filmed.

Stilson, professor and chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, said 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,” Stilson 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, assistant professor of Mass Communication, said he and his wife Shirlee Wilson assisted Stilson in adapting the play into a feature-length screenplay. Together, Jones and Wilson will serve as creative consultants to Stilson. However, the conception of the movie set is as important as the script itself.

“Good set design is extremely important,” Jones said. “Quite some time is spent setting lights – making sure the light is realistic but conveying the right mood. Another vital part of production is making sure the camera shots are visually interesting, yet still true to the story. An overly complicated shot may not be appropriate for some moments. Sometimes, simplicity works best.”

Several Southeast students are heavily involved in the production of the film. Bart Elfrink of Jackson, Mo., first assistant director, said his primary job is to help Stilson realize his vision.

“I’ve worked on films before, but nothing like this one,” Elfrink said. “This is a whole new experience for everyone involved.”

Ryan Maurer, director of photography, said his responsibilities include taking control of lighting, shot framing, focal points, shot selection and the movement of the camera.

“Basically, I am responsible for how the film looks,” Maurer said. “In post-production, I will work with the editors to ensure the vision of the film is preserved or adjusted according to Kenn’s direction. Color correction and shot selection will be essential in post-production.”

“It should be hard work, but with our amazing cast of actors and crew, we are going to have a phenomenal film on our hands,” Elfrink said.

The film is being shot at around 20 locations, from Eclipse Hair Studio in Cape Girardeau to Amidon Conservation Area near Fredericktown, Mo., to southern Illinois.

The 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.” 

Once it is complete, the film will be entered into a number of festivals around the world during late 2007 and early 2008.

“The story is unique in its Midwestern perspective. Hopefully it will be picked up by a distributor and released at large from there. I’m certainly keeping my fingers crossed,” Stilson said.