Vicksburg native creates a beautiful movie of teenage heartbreak
Published 8:00 am Saturday, March 7, 2020
Teenage heartbreak hurts.
And because the feeling of lost love is often a new experience, finding a way to deal with the pain can be tough.
In Mike Gillis’ newest production, the Vicksburg filmmaker shows how one young woman overcomes heartbreak in “Triste Adagio.”
“‘Triste Adagio,’ which in French means sad but graceful,” Gillis said, is about a young ballet dancer, Riley, who has just broken up with her boyfriend. “Everyone in the dance studio notices how sad she is and they try to help.”
But nothing works.
That is until a kind, an Irish custodian, by the name of Sullivan, who has seen Riley dance since she was 3-years-old, strikes a chord with the young dancer by sharing his own story of lost love and what he did to help his broken heart mend.
“Riley takes his advice,” Gillis said and begins to lighten her heavy heart with the passion to dance. “I wanted to do this film since about 1988 when I got into making videos. When HBO was in its infancy and was first available in Vicksburg in 1978, they used to have short films between movies.
“I saw the short film In A Dance Studio one night,” Gillis said, “And immediately fell in love with it. I told myself that I was going to make my first short film about a sad, ballet dancer.”
However, Gillis got busy making films for clients, and it wasn’t until seven years ago he found the time to work on his own projects.
“Now four films later, I made ‘Triste Adagio,’” Gillis said.
As the owner of Raintree Pictures, Gillis’ film “Around The Next Corner,” which was shot at the Highway 61 Coffeehouse, was a finalist for best drama short at the Tupelo Film Festival in 2015 and in 2017. His last film, “When I Loved You,” was a finalist at the Los Angeles Cinefest Film Festival.
Gillis said his films are based on real-life situations with an objective to spread God’s message.
Because of Gillis’ lack of dance knowledge, he reached out to Debra Franco, owner of the Debra Franco Preparatory School of Dance in Vicksburg, to assist with the film.
“She (Franco) told me she was having a ballet workshop that week and to come see their recital,” Gillis said. “I saw a young lady (Brelynn Beck) who was very graceful and beautiful. And when she stood on point, she looked 10 feet tall.”
After a screen-test with Beck, Gillis said he hired her “on the spot.”
Beck, who has been dancing for the past 14 years, said she was excited to have been chosen for the role of Riley.
“It was crazy. I never thought I would have an opportunity like this,” Beck said. “It was so cool to watch myself dance,” she said after seeing a screening of the film.
Beck also performed her own choreography for “Triste Adagio.”
Gillis said it took four weeks to create the 19-minute film.
In addition to Beck, those appearing in the film are Cassidy Lampkin, Alaina LaTorre, Sarah Randolph, Morgan Nelson and Ellie Jones.
Gillis performed the role of Sullivan.
Also assisting with the film, Gillis said, were Hannah Krapac, who served as the production assistant and Jack Burns, who helped with cinematography and post-production skills.
Beck said one of her favorite things about “Triste Adagio” is its relevancy.
“The movie was about trying to get over heartbreak and to tell others to not let what people say get in the way of what you want to do,” Beck said. “I learned that recently because of a boy and now I have made dance my number one priority.”
“Triste Adagio” premiered Feb. 21 at the Strand Theatre and Gillis said the film is available to churches and special groups.