News Column

Explore Mississippi's diverse culture with 'subSIPPI'

August 18, 2013


Aug. 18--BILOXI -- In August 2012, Diamondhead native Vincent Chaney and his partners, James Gregory Gandy and Lauren Cioffi, rode a charter boat out of Biloxi and into the Gulf of Mexico.

The three spent the day filming with owner Jay Trochesset to explore the charter-fishing culture for a documentary titled "subSIPPI."

By February, the co-creators had released a trailer of the film that aims to identify the various subculture groups that flourish in the state. The film, which features strong visual imagery, personal interviews and distinctive cinematography, will be released Sept. 23 at the Saenger Theatre in Hattiesburg.

From August to November, Chaney, Gandy and Cioffi filmed subcultures throughout the state. They started in Carriere, made their way to the Coast, then Meridian, Oxford, the Delta, Vicksburg, Natchez and finally ended in Jackson.

Subcultures of Mississippi

Chaney, Cioffi and Gandy spent three weeks on the Coast.

Chaney said it was important to the filmmakers that they document the seafood and arts culture that can be found in South Mississippi. "Seafood is iconic of the Coast," he said. "The industry is lifestyle there. Where else in Mississippi is the seafood industry bringing in revenue and new infrastructure?"

The filmmakers spent some time with Vietnamese shrimpers.

"People don't think that Vietnamese shrimpers or Buddhists exist in Mississippi or the Coast," Chaney said. "People are living full lives here, and they deserve to be heard."

The three also spent time documenting the group known as Art Can Change Everything in Biloxi.

"To many people here, diversity is an idea and not a face," Chaney said. "'subSIPPI' wants to change that."

The point behind 'subSIPPI'

Chaney, Cioffi and Gandy said the documentary has two goals: to educate residents on the state's diversity and to portray subjects in an interesting way.

"One of the challenges facing Mississippians today is the disconnection, both physical and mental, of individuals who share similar interests in arts, music, religion and agriculture," Chaney said. "'subSIPPI' hopes to connect these people and uses the art of film to put them under one banner."

Gandy said he hopes "subSIPPI" will highlight the importance of staying in Mississippi.

"I think it takes us longer to realize our sense of place in Mississippi," he said. "People come back here when they grow older, but why do people have to come back to realize that our culture is unique?"

Gandy was born and raised in Jackson. Cioffi is a California native who moved to Jackson in 2011.

"We have three different points of view of every situation we come across," Gandy said.

The filmmakers said they want to counter the misrepresentations of Mississippians by filmmakers outside the state.

The three used social media to connect with underrepresented communities.

Means, money, production

Chaney, Cioffi and Gandy spent time in Jackson producing and editing film reels after production ended.

In February, they released the first trailer.

Initially, Kickstarter helped raise money to shoot the film and buy equipment. With the help of $4,197 Kickstarter raised and a private donor, the three were able to buy all film equipment, pay to travel around the state, and produce the film.

Adam Myrick and Jason LeViere, owners of Click Boutique and Gallery in Hattiesburg, gave a donation to "subSIPPI' through Kickstarter and have been credited as executive producers of the film.

"Being born in Hattiesburg and attending school at the University of Southern Mississippi, I, like many others of my generation, did not appreciate the South until I was gone," Myrick said. Myrick, who moved to New York City and came back to open a business, said his life experience brought him back to Mississippi a blank canvas.

"I became involved with this project because I saw firsthand how my home was grossly misrepresented in the world. LeViere, a Pennsylvania native, said he understood the negative perceptions of Mississippi as portrayed by the media.

"The South that I found when I moved to Mississippi was like no place I could have ever imagined," he said. "I become involved to help expose the true beauty and rich culture of Mississippi."

Unisex subSIPPI T-shirts are available at Click Boutique and online. All proceeds directly benefit "subSIPPI."

Myrick and LeViere were featured in the trailer for "subSIPPI," and the filmmakers said the two have been an inspiration.

"Adam and Jason are such amazing people," Chaney said.

"subSIPPI" will play at 7:30 p.m. opening night in Hattiesburg.

Chaney said they hope to screen the film at universities and schools in the state throughout the year.


(c)2013 The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.)

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