Wes and Bobby Benton, owners of Red Planet Entertainment, have partnered with Beau Rivage Resort and Casino, IP Casino Resort & Spav, and Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Biloxi, to bring the state of Mississippi and the Gulf Coast an unprecedented event, the inaugural Sun and Sand Mississippi Film and Music Festival. Five full days and nights of non stop excitement and fun for aspiring film makers and music lovers. The stage is set for a totally off the charts experience centered around all facets of the entertainment industry. Beautiful indoor and outdoor venues throughout the Coast will offer film screenings, educational sessions and technology demonstrations, and outstanding concerts. Beginning Nov. 7 through Nov. 11, you can immerse yourself in the fascinating world of filmmaking. It will be an extraordinary journey that you won’t want to miss, so get your tickets now!
Red Planet Entertainment is a Mississippi Production company that has been in business for 32 years. Wes and Bobby Benton are brothers who are fiercely dedicated to the growth and preservation of filmmaking in this state. One main objective is to continue development of the Film Incentive Program and how it can benefit Mississippi through film production companies taking advantage of the incentives that are available. They want to get the word out throughout the industry by promoting the state and the richness and diversity Mississisppi has to offer filmmakers. Wes and Bobby came up with the idea two years ago. They had hoped to launch the festival in 2011 and initially the musical guests were on a much smaller scale. It was originally planned as a celebration of the works from Tennessee Williams and Robert Johnson on their 100th birth anniversary. The process took longer than what was anticipated, and the structure and layout was not coming together as well as they had hoped. It was decided that the event would be postponed until 2012. Sun and Sand will welcome actors, producers, directors, and musicians from all over the country.
The Benton brothers knew they would have tremendous success because festivals are extremely popular in Mississippi. They researched what people were interested in and the majority of those they spoke with said they wanted to see a very strong film festival. The cities of Jackson and Tupelo contribute a tremendous amount of support for the film industry through this format. Wes and Bobby wanted Sun and Sand to be done on a rather grand scale, and much larger than a typical film festival. They used the South by Southwest festival as a model and then made modifications to suit the vision they had for Sun and Sand. “The two business drivers of the festival will be the Film side, and the Film Expo side. The music side will be more about entertainment and will draw the majority of the attendees. We needed all three components to ensure success,” Bobby said. They also chose to include true Hollywood professional actors who had a passion for music. Kevin Costner and Modern West, and The Blues Brothers with Dan Aykroyd and James Belushi were the perfect fit.
The list of musical guests continues with an incredible line up of talented artists! Rising young stars in the local market and big name headliners will be on beachfront stages at Jones Park in Gulfport. Check dates and times to find your favorites! There were over 800 bands that submitted applications to appear at Sun and Sand. Next year, for the 2013 edition of the festival, there will be even more venues and stages to showcase the plethora of talent. “We would like to look into Pub Crawls and amphitheaters, to see what else would be viable entertainment launch spots. We want to bring the entertainment into each community so each area will have the opportunity to showcase the musical guests and headliners in their own very special and unique way. Perhaps a celebrity golf tournament or deep sea fishing tournament. We want the different communities along the Gulf Coast to maximize their exposure, whatever is in the best interest of each particular community,” Bobby said. The Mississippi Gulf Coast is such a desirable location, and was a huge contributing factor for celebrities contracting to perform at Sun and Sand.
Wes and Bobby have been staunch supporters of building the filmmaking industry in Mississippi for many, many years. They believe that there are tremendous opportunities for new production companies to come here, and for the existing production companies to grow. Bobby and Wes Benton want to bring directors and producers into the state in order to show them what is available here. “When they see the rich locations and the companies that are providing services, as well as being able to take advantage of the Mississippi tax incentives, and utilize companies that can enhance the process…the word will spread quickly how great it is here for movie making. The festival will bring the major players here and the growth process of film production will accelerate. The key is to get industry people into the state and show them what we have to offer,” Bobby said. The Sun and Sand Film and Music Festival will be a stepping stone to bring awareness to the entire filmmaking industry. The ultimate goal is to bring more production into Mississippi but eventually it could become something even bigger.
A generous grant provided by BP was used for the advertising for both the festival and to promote Mississippi. Most of the advertising takes place online through the social media. This makes it possible to advise film school students, young professionals who are in the industry and trades, the local unions, and everyone in between about the festival. A wonderful TV spot was created on the Coast which is running now and reaches thirteen states, all in the Southern region of the country. “We felt that it was best to reach out to those who were in a 7 to 8 hour radius of the Gulf Coast, and then were even more vigorous in targeting an audience that is 3 to 4 hours away with intensive marketing in TV, radio, and social media,” Bobby Benton said. We are also very grateful for the sponsorship of Hard Rock, Beau Rivage, IP Casino Resort and Spa, AT&T, FEB Distributing, Rex Distributing, Coast Coca Cola, MS Film Office, Zero Waste, IATSE 478, Four Points Hotel, and the Sun Herald.
The Film Expo is five full days of creative genius that will provide a wonderful opportunity to see the industry’s latest concepts, equipment and emerging technologies. It will connect film and music enthusiasts across the country with well respected, experienced players in all areas of the entertainment world. Expo tickets are included in general admission and can be purchased online or at the door for only $10.00. It will no doubt be a huge draw to those who are new to the industry as well as those who are well versed in the art of filmmaking. Guest speakers will offer their insight and expertise in panel discussions and a wide variety of subjects will be covered by the best in the business. Featured guests include Hollywood Producers Mark Morgan, Eric Thompson, Laura Bernielli, and Jennifer Ogdan, who will share their wisdom and knowledge about the process of creating major motion pictures. Attorneys Bill Luckett, Anita Modak-Truran, and Stephen Weizenecker will delve into the subject of entertainment law and discuss the many intricacies of raising capital and finding funding for a project. Expo attendees will go behind the scenes of movie making and learn how it’s done. Perhaps new graduates will find a new career field through the information that will be available in the Expo…maybe he or she could be the next Steven Spielberg or Ron Howard. Explore the film making horizon at Sun and Sand, the possibilities are endless!
The film screenings will take place at the Mary C in Ocean Springs, and the Beau Rivage theater and the Saenger Theater in Biloxi. It will be open seating, general admission. They will begin on Wednesday at the Saenger from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm. On Thursday, a variety of films will be screened at all three venues simultaneously during the hours of 7:00 to 9:30 and on Friday and Saturday, the films will be screened all day at the Saenger, Beau Rivage, and Mary C from 10:00 am through 10:00 pm. The selection will include feature films, documentaries, music videos, and shorts by independent producers. There will be a chance to mingle with actors, producers and other professionals involved in major releases. The independent films represent a wide variety of exciting themes and ideas. Frequent intermissions are scheduled throughout the screening sessions, and a question and answer period will take place with the producers and directors following the films . In honor of the Hospitality State, movies with Mississippi roots will be showcased throughout the festival specifically at the historic Saenger Theater in Biloxi.
At the close of Sun and Sand, awards will be presented to the best film work in the following categories: Feature Documentary, Shorts and Music Video, and Mississippi Lifetime Achievement in Film and Music. The closing ceremony will include a brunch. Wear comfortable clothes, attire is strictly up to you. No recording of screenings or concerts is permissible but ticket holders may bring tablets, IPads, laptops or cameras into the venues. Security at Sun and Sand will be handled by Swetman Security Services and the Gulfport police department.
Check out the Sun and Sand Festival website for complete information @ http://www.sunandsandfestival.com. There is a wealth of additional information online, including ticket prices, bios on special guest speakers, sponsorship opportunities, and how to become a Friend of the Festival! Your monetary support will insure continued growth and success for Sun and Sand in 2013 and beyond.