The Meridian Star
TUESDAY, JULY 21, 1998

'Red Dirt' begins filming in Meridian
By Ida Brown

Actress Aleksa Palladino has gotten more than she bargained for during production of "Red Dirt," a drama written and directed by Meridian native Tag Purvis.

"I love it here!" said Palladino of her first visit to Mississippi. "I like that you can look up and not see man's creations. It's untouched when you look up and that's so wonderful."

The actress, whose film credits include "Manny and Lo," and the upcoming project "A Cool Dry Place," was one of four lead actors who began filming Monday at Merrehope. According to producer Sean Gibbons, the first day on the set ran smoothly.

We had a call time at 6 a.m. and started shooting at about 7:30," Gibbons said. "We're relatively on schedule, which feels good."

Described by Purvis as "a story of family and place, and a man's search for love within a dysfunctional family," "Red Dirt also stars Academy award-nominated actress Karen Black; Dan Montgomery, an independent film actor who is recognized for his appearances in television ads for Levi's jeans; Harold Hertha, a character actor who appeared in the movie "Forrest Gump" with Tom Hanks; Walter Goggin, who was last seen in "The Apostle" with Robert Duvall: and Peg O'Keef."

Palladino said after reading the second page of the script she knew that she wanted to be a part of the production. She describes her character as "really, really complex."

"She's a girl who still thinks there should be beauty, and the dream, and all the romance in life," she said. "She sort of creates it for herself because she can't find it, which only further removes her... She has rearranged the world for herself to exist, and while people start to drift in and out, it starts to shatter and she is awaken to reality."

Throughout the week, the film's production crew will shoot both interior and exterior scenes at Merrehope, which has been chosen to portray the main characters' index. In between film takes, Purvis could be seen running throughout the index, checking lighting, going over scenes with the cast and making necessary adjustments to the script.

Filming on "Red Dirt" will continue throughout the month. The production is expected to be completed in mid-August.

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