LaReeca Rucker has been a journalist for more than 20 years, and her work has appeared in newspapers across the nation. She spent a decade as a features writer and multimedia journalist with The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, where she was also a USA TODAY contributor. She is a freelance journalist and support journalism instructor in the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media in Oxford, Mississippi.

Current film, TV projects in Mississippi

LaReeca Rucker
The Clarion-Ledger

A number of film and television projects are in the works or recently have been completed in the state. Here's a rundown on what's happening in 'Sippiwood.

"Artists Die Best in Black" This independent film has been shot on the Gulf Coast. The mystery, directed by Price Hall, stars actor Malcolm McDowell, whose most famous role is probably Alex DeLarge from the 1971 Stanley Kubrick film "A Clockwork Orange." It is described as, "A noir romantic thriller full of intriguing characters, art and death (that) unfolds in a gripping mystery that rocks the art world of the Mississippi Gulf Coast." The Sun Herald reported that a local premiere may be held in September.

"Category 5" — This weather disaster action film just completed filming along the Gulf Coast. Starring Burt Reynolds, the movie is about five families caught in a Gulf Coast hurricane. The Hattiesburg American reported earlier that nearly a dozen University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast film students were hired as production assistants for the film. No word on a release date yet.

"Headrush" "This is a short film made by a guy named Johnson Thomasson," said Parikh. "It's now finished, and he's going to be screening it around the state in the coming weeks." Nina Parikh, deputy director of the Mississippi Film Office, said the Mississippi native, now in his early 20s, began making films when he was in junior high. This 45-minute sci-fi murder mystery is about "Kurt Schuler, a Ph.D student in biochemistry, who does cutting-edge research into the nature of death. But when he discovers a mysterious human body in his laboratory, he must race to find the killer or risk losing everything he has worked for, even his own life." Headrush was filmed in Jackson and Canton. The film will premiere July 25 in Tupelo, Aug. 1 in Madison, Aug. 22 in Starkville and Sept. 3 in Oxford. To see the trailer and learn more, visit

"As I Lay Dying" Based on the 1930 classic novel by William Faulkner, this James Franco film, shot in parts of Mississippi last year, is about the death of Addie Bundren and her family's quest to honor her wish to be buried in the nearby town of Jefferson. The film was shown at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Parkih said it may be released to wider audiences in September.

"The Shed" This reality show currently being filmed for The Food Network in Ocean Springs focuses on the Orrison family that owns and runs The Shed, an iconic Gulf Coast restaurant. Parikh said it likely will air in August. The family gained wealth and fame because of its chain of barbecue restaurants.

"Blackbird" — Based on a novel by Larry Duplechan, Parikh said this coming-of-age high school drama directed by Mississippi native Patrik-Ian Polk, was filmed in Hattiesburg this spring and summer. It's about a talented teenage singer who struggles with religion, sexuality, a troubled home life and other high school woes in a small Southern Baptist town. Polk attended Brandeis University in Massachusetts and received his undergraduate degree in film and theatre from the University of Southern Mississippi before attending graduate film school at the University of Southern California. There is currently no release date.

"The Historian" — This film also just wrapped up in Hattiesburg and is directed by USM professor Miles Doleac. It's about "a troubled, young history professor who tries to escape his past by taking a job at a new university, where he struggles with an entrenched and equally troubled department chair, rampant student apathy and new relationships that complicate and challenge his worldview." There's no release date yet.

"Starve" — Parikh said this film in the action horror genre had no Mississippi connection other than its filming location. The description: "In 1972, the Southern town of Pucketville was plagued by a poisoned water supply, turning this quaint burg of America into an abandoned ghost town. Now this once populated neighborhood has become a vacuum for hitchhikers, travelers and those invisible to society. Hidden within the darkness, one social outcast has turned the area into a forbidden site, from which escape is not an option." You can watch the trailer for the film here:

"Big Significant Things" — Parikh said this low-budget, indie film was shot in the Jackson metro area, on the Gulf Coast and in Oxford this spring. It's a dramatic comedy about a young man on his travels through the South. The lead character escapes the stability of his settled down life in search of perspective. It features actor Harry Lloyd, who has appeared in "Game of Thrones" and "The Iron Lady."

"Quarry" — An HBO and Cinemax pilot will be shot in North Mississippi beginning July 22 for about 13 days. "Go Memphis" reports that "Quarry" is inspired by novels written by crime specialist Max Allan Collins. Quarry will be set in the 1970s and is about a war-damaged Vietnam veteran-turned-professional assassin who is involved in a crime network that operates along the Mississippi River.

"Deep South" — Parikh said this documentary on HIV/AIDS in the American South was shot here several years ago. "It's traveling the film festival circuit right now," she said. "One of the subjects in the film is from Mississippi."

"Gideon's Army" — This film is about public defenders in the South. "One of the people they focus on is June Hardwick, a public defender here," Parikh said, adding that the documentary is airing on HBO now. Both "Deep South" and "Gideon's Army" were screened at the Crossroads Film Festival earlier this year.

"I Didn't Do It" —According to Facebook, Melanie Lynn Addington is currently working on a film project that explores the Mississippi ricin case and the aftermath for Kevin Curtis after he allegedly was framed for the crime.


The Journalism Portfolio of LaReeca Rucker