New Orleans

Filmmaker Ian Midgley documents the work of New Orleans resident Nat Turner who teaches youth how to grow and sell vegetables at Our School in Blair Grocery in the lower 9th ward.  The film with air on the Emmy-nominated documentary series, America Reframed Tuesday April 12, 2016.

Check out Our School in Blair Grocery here.




Ian Midgley’s documentary Reversing the Mississippi will have its U.S. television premiere Tuesday, April 12, 2016, at 8 p.m. on WORLD Channel (check local listings), as part of the fourth season of America Reframed, public media’s newest documentary series hosted by Natasha Del Toro. The film will be available for free streaming on starting April 13, 2016.
When filmmaker Ian Midgley turned 25, he put all his belongings in storage, bought a camera and started traveling across the country looking for people who were creating their own realities and leading a purposeful life. Optimistic and believing in the possibility of change, he takes himself on an American road trip to meet people choosing to live by their own strongly-held values.

Through word-of-mouth, Midgley learns about farmer and social innovator Marcin Jakubowski, a Ph.D. in fusion physics who became dissatisfied with the consumer lifestyle and turned to the earth to become a farmer and social innovator.

As the founder of Open Source Ecology, Jakubowski is the creator of the Global Village Construction Set through which he offers free and replicable blueprints to fabricate everything needed for a self-sustaining village. At Jakubowski’s “Factor e Farm” in rural Missouri, he puts those ideas to the test.

While his ideas attract interns and volunteers from across the U.S., they ultimately feel under-appreciated and uninspired as they toil day and night in meager conditions.

Midgley’s travels also take him to New Orleans, where he spends a few life-changing weeks with former NYC schoolteacher Nat Turner. Turner drove a school bus to New Orleans with a dream of healing the Lower 9th Ward after Hurricane Katrina and gained national attention for transforming an abandoned grocery store into a community youth education center called Our School Blair Grocery.

Turner teaches kids to sell vegetables and how to work the land. He also infuses a contagious love of learning—getting students excited about English, science, math and social studies because it’s not just a classroom; it’s a learning sanctuary. However, Turner does not have many resources and works with small and broken farm equipment. The educator laments as he thinks deeply about all the work he and the teens still have to do, “The work that we are doing is like trying to reverse the flow of the Mississippi River.”

The filmmaker then asks: if these two men meet might they be able to make real change? Jakubowski, the visionary inventor could help change the world vis-à-vis his technology, but if he can’t motivate people, can he accomplish his goals? And Turner desperately needs affordable, easy-to-fix equipment. When Jakubowski meets the charismatic educator, he finally encounters a mentor who can inspire and challenge him to become a stronger and better leader.

Midgley depicts both men and their dreams, along with their shortcomings and strengths, and hopes that “viewers will be able to relate to the universal qualities that bind people in relationship to community, to the earth and to each other.”

Film Credits
Director/Producer: Ian Midgley
Executive Producer: Christina Heller
Producers: D.J. Turner, Siku Thompson, Drew Barnett-Hamilton


Read the original press release here.

“Midgley’s new film… tells the story of two men—scientist-inventor Marcin Jakubowski and teacher Nat Turner—united by a passion for expanding access to economic opportunity.”

– Anna Bergren Miller, Shareable






The Originals Returns to The CW on October 8

by Meghan McGee on August 6, 2015


Fans rejoiced when the third season of The Originals was announced. Set in the historical city of New Orleans but shot mostly in Georgia, The Originals, a spinoff of The Vampire Diaries, explores the storylines of multiple supernatural creatures and characters. Home to werewolves, witches, vampire clans, vampire rivals and even vampire werewolf hybrids, The Big Easy in The Originals is anything but laid back.

The father of the Original family, Mikael, played by Sebastian Roche, might return in flashbacks this season. Expect a lot of flashbacks. Also appearing on the newest season will be a sultry vampire, Aurora, played by Rebecca Breeds, and Lucien, played by Andrew Lees, a suave vampire who has some unfinished business with Klaus. Lucien apparently has it out for the Mikaelson clan of New Orleans.

Another one of the new faces being introduced this season to the show is Jason Dohring, who will be playing Will Kinney, a good-natured New Orleans detective who tries to keep the voodoo vampires in line. Little does Kinney know that not all bloody crime can come from fangs in the night.

Similar to The Vampire Diaries, the center of The Originals will always be family. Season three primary focuses on threats close to home, with outsider vampires infringing on the original clan in the crescent city.

New viewers and fans who’ve fallen behind can brush up on everything that happened in season one easily. It’s now streaming on Netflix. Sink your fangs into The Originals season three, returning on Thursday, October 8, at 9pm on The CW.


TRAILER: New Orleans-Shot ‘Mississippi Grind’

by Caitlin Brimer on July 23, 2015

1437577639-1401x788-0000515997-1-mississippigrind-still1-unknownMonths after Mississippi Grind’s premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, the first official trailer for the road trip drama by the writer-director duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson, It’s Kind of A Funny Story) has been released.

Emmy-nominated Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline) stars as Gerry, a desperate gambler looking for any place to put his hope. He latches on to the young, charming and slightly sketchy poker player Curtis, played by Ryan Reynolds, who has a cool indifference about winning.

In order to pay Gerry’s debts, and perhaps curb his self-destructive habits, the two go on a road trip from Iowa to New Orleans, making several stops along the way to confront their past. While road trip movies are well worn territory, Mississippi Grind focuses mostly on the characters. The hot streak of an enigmatic Reynolds stands in contrast to the habitual failures of Mendelsohn, who never turns in a bad performance. As Gerry says, “Some guys are born to lose.”

For Reynolds, this film will be his fourth major New Orleans area production, following after Self/less, which premiered earlier this month, Green Lantern in 2011, and Waiting… in 2005.

Mississippi Grind also features a great cast that includes Sienna Miller, Analeigh Tipton, Alfre Woodard and Robin Weigert.

From A24, this dramatic road trip will debut on DirectTV August 13 and will open in theaters on September 25.


american ultraThe stoner action comedy American Ultra just released its second trailer, and here’s the pitch: it’s Bourne mixed with bud.

Shot in the New Orleans area, American Ultra stars Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) as a stoner whose only assignment is holding down the saddest convenience store ever. Until he’s “activated” by Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights), and revealed to be a sleeper with Jason Bourne-style training. Kristen Stewart (The Twilight Saga) stars as his girlfriend.

Both Eisenberg and Stewart have a long history shooting in Louisiana. Eisenberg starred in the New Orleans-shot film Now You See Me and Stewart filmed The Yellow Handkerchief and Welcome to the Rileys in New Orleans and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 & 2 in Baton Rouge at Celtic Studios. She also shot part of On the Road in Louisiana.

The movie looks like a helluva lot of fun, reminiscent of director David Gordon Green’s Pineapple Express, an action/stoner comedy that took its action seriously. That film, which starred Seth Rogen, Danny McBride and a long-haired James Franco, was a surprise hit for Sony. Costing only $27 million, it brought in over $90 million worldwide before making a bundle on DVD after it was released in 2008.

American Ultra is written by Chronicle scribe Max Landis, who’s wit is clearly evident in the trailer, and directed by Nima Nourizadeh, who also directed Project X. Topher Grace, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman, Tony Hale and Teri Wyble also appear.

American Ultra is slated to hit theaters on August 21.


Country’s Favorite Couple Plays New Orleans

by Meghan McGee on July 9, 2015

M_GarthBrooksTrishaYearwood630_072814Garth Brooks has come back to The Big Easy. This weekend, he’ll be performing several shows with his partner in rhyme, Trisha Yearwood. Brooks is a living legend whose country music career has spanned over twenty years. Along the way, he’s won Grammys, American Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards, and become the fastest selling album artist in RIAA history. He’s also broken records for concert attendance set by Paul McCartney, U2 and Elvis Presley.

Brooks came out of retirement in 2009 to play four years of shows at the Wynn Theater in Las Vegas. And last year, he announced his plan to return to touring. And he won’t be alone.

In 2005, Trisha Yearwood married her friend and mentor. But her career began way before meeting Brooks. Born in Georgia, Yearwood grew up with a love for country music and Southern rock. In the early 80s, Yearwood scored an internship for MTM records. She would use her surroundings to record demo tapes and practice. She eventually signed with MCA records.

Yearwood’s career includes many hit songs and she’s received awards from the Academy of Country Music, including Top Female Vocalist in 1997 and 1998. But this songbird does more than just sing. She branched off into acting in the late 90s, appearing on CBS’s JAG. In 2008, she teamed up with her mother and sister to create the cookbook Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen. And she’s continued to make herself at homes in homes across the country.

Brooks and Yearwood are the definitive country music power couple. Now these friends turned lovers will no doubt make their New Orleans show something special. Catch the country duo at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on July 10-12.

There are still some tickets left. You can pick your seat here.


Wendell Pierce in ‘Brothers From The Bottom’

by Jordan McGuire

Brothers from the Bottom will commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and star Tony Award winner Wendell Pierce in a limited engagement. Here’s the press release:  Following their acclaimed Brooklyn run, the award-winning Billie Holiday Theater (BHT) at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) Stage Company join forces […]

New Orleans Native Wendell Pierce Lands Lead in HBO’s ‘Confirmation’

by Jordan McGuire

Wendell Pierce will play Clarence Thomas in HBO’s rendition of the 1991 Supreme Court nomination hearings.  The New Orleans native will star opposite Kerry Washington in Confirmation, a new project from HBO Films. Washington will portray Anita Hill. The 1991 confirmation hearing for now-Justice Thomas were big news nearly twenty-five years ago, described as “a circus” […]

Royal Teeth Signs with Elektra Records

by Jordan McGuire

Royal Teeth has signed with a major label, Elektra Records, which is owned by Warner Music Group.The decision to sign with a major label is big for any band. It signals a big vote of confidence in their commercial talent. Royal Teeth is an American indie group from Lafayette, New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. […]

An Interview with ‘Get Hard’ Star Paul Ben-Victor

by Alexandra Fraioli

Paul Ben-Victor has his roots in the New York theatre. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Ben-Victor made the transition from east to west coast early in his career. Scene spoke with him while shooting Emmett/Furla Films’ Empire State, a film set in New York but shot in New Orleans. “I started off a little bit in […]