On that command from “Blood Country” director Travis Mills, a hush falls over the courtroom at Jacinto Monday morning as filming of the movie’s scene 43 begins.
Corinth attorney Nick Bain — summoned out of real-life court for the last-minute casting of a speaking role— stands facing a witness who begins to tearfully respond to a question.
“They brought him back. He was all tore up,” she says.
Bain, as defense attorney Huddleston, replies, “Torn up, Mrs. Loftin?”
“He’d been shot and cut many times,” she says.
“Is it not true, ma’am, that two of your sons — two of your four sons — had an ongoing feud?”
“Yes sir,” replies Mrs. Loftin. “They didn’t like each other for a long time.”
Between takes, a machine pumps vapor into the air, giving the room a hazy, smoky thickness.
The western thriller by Running Wild Films attracted a crowd of costumed locals hoping for a moment in front of the camera. They filled the wooden benches of the second-floor courtroom, seemingly returning the historic government building to a bygone era of Old Tishomingo.
Wearing a blue dress and matching bonnet, Diane Hilburn of Corinth said she made her own costume as well as one for another participant, both inspired by the look of “Little House on the Prairie.”
Regional Library Director William McMullin was among those serving as a courtroom spectator.
“This is going to be fun,” he said. “It’s a chance for people to act and have a good time and dress up in costumes and see how the filmmaking business works.”
Ralph Coln, who recently served as interim county supervisor for the district that includes Jacinto, came in costume with his grandson, Alex.
“He was out of school this week, so here we are,” said Coln. “It will be a challenge. I like challenges.”
Based on true events and adapted from the short story “The Outlaw, the Sheriff, and the Governor” by Robert E. Jones, the movie will have several scenes filmed in Jacinto.
“The courtroom is probably a five- to seven-minute scene, kind of a centerpiece scene, probably one of the longest-lasting scenes of the film,” said Mills. “Then we’re going to be shooting some jail conference scenes upstairs with the lawyers tomorrow, and we’re going to probably shoot some newspaper scenes at this location, too. It will probably be featured in 15 minutes of the film, I’d say.”
Set in the small south Mississippi town of Oakdale, the movie is also being shot in several other Mississippi locales.
Mills said filming is set to wrap April 4, and then post-production begins. He hopes to see the movie released around the end of the year and would like to do a local screening.