Lights! Camera! Action! Al Pacino movie filming in Mississippi
Published 10:13 pm Wednesday, July 26, 2023
Rumors abuzz of an Al Pacino movie filming in Natchez are true.
Visit Natchez Executive Director Devin Heath said after “on-again, off-again” attempts to begin work on a new film in the Mississippi city, the movie starring Pacino is slated to begin filming in Natchez this fall. The “on-again, off-again” part is due to strikes by the Writers Guild of America in May and, subsequently, the Screen Actors Guild in July over ongoing labor disputes, both of which delayed the project a bit, Heath said.
Filmmakers received a waiver to start the new project — originally set to begin filming in July — however, they decided to hold off until “the dog days of summer” were over, Heath said.
In addition to Academy Award winner Pacino, “The Ritual” also stars Benjamin Foster, seen in “The Punisher,” “X-Men: The Last Stand,” and “Alpha Dog.”
“It sounds spooky but is more of a drama and is based on a true story,” Heath said.
Heath delivered news of the film coming to Natchez to the Downtown Merchants Group at their Wednesday morning meeting inside Natchez Coffee Company.
“It’s back on again,” he said, expressing his excitement and concern for the film’s timing. With production teams expected to be here around October, Natchez’s busiest time due to fall events such as the Natchez Balloon Festival, Heath said to the group that he is concerned about Natchez hotels being full.
He added, “We’ll give them what we’ve got.”
Heath later said that October is not set in stone for filming to begin.
“That is the current plan, but everything is fluid when you’re working with productions,” he said. “I’d love for them to come when we have more availability for them.”
Natchez Film Office, under Visit Natchez’s umbrella, successfully recruited the horror film “From Black,” starring Pitch Perfect’s Anna Camp.
The movie, filmed majorly in Natchez in 2022, was released on AMC+ and Shudder last April.
Since then, Heath said they’ve worked on other small projects.
“We’ve had a French production come in and film about (Simone de Beauvoir) a woman who came to Natchez from France in the 1940s,” Heath said. “She was a philosopher and leader when it comes to the women’s rights movement. … It’s in post-production now and was shot the third week of May.”
Filming didn’t stop entirely because of the strikes, but they are like a “double punch” to the film industry, Heath said.
“If a project had already been written, it could have gone to production after the writers’ strike started at the beginning of May. Now that the actor’s strike has happened, that’s been like a double punch,” he said.
Heath said filmmakers continue to love coming to Natchez “because it’s so warm and welcoming here and has so many places that are picturesque.”
He added because Natchez has so many true stories worth telling on screen, “there’s possibility here for reality-based programming” here despite the strikes.
Mississippi’s film incentives support the employment of Mississippians for any film projects coming to the state, which means there’s also an opportunity for production teams to hire locals, Heath said.
“They’ll have a core group coming with them,” Heath said, “but whether it is costume designers, props or caterers, we know they’ll have some needs for those areas.”