Shaping Mississippi through Film: A Water Valley Resident Tells Mississippi’s Stories Through Films

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by Danny McArthur // photos by Lindsay Pace

Making the move from lawyer to state director of the Mississippi chapter of the Nature Conservancy to filmmaker was not the career move Robbie Fisher planned for. Even though Fisher never went to film school, she said she always knew she wanted to do film. 

“I remember over in high school thinking I’d love to be involved in filmmaking,” Fisher said. 

At the time, Fisher didn’t know film school could be an option. Instead, she went for the more traditional course of college and law school but said “that seed was always there.” Throughout her film career, Fisher has been part of over 20 film, television and commercial projects. 

Fisher also stays involved in the arts outside her career as a filmmaker, serving as a board member of the Oxford Film Festival. As part of her overall work, she encourages the growth of Mississippi’s film incentive program. She calls upon state leaders to support the Mississippi film industry in order to keep film students in Mississippi, rather than have them move elsewhere for work.

Fisher gained early hands-on film experience working on a low-budget crew and through multiple film projects with Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB). When she decided to leave the Nature Conservatory in 2008, she decided to pursue filmmaking full time, with “Gulf Islands” in 2009 being the first film she made after the decision. The film won a Southeastern Regional Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Photography among others. 

“That really just sort of opened my eyes to all the opportunities there were for telling stories about Mississippi people and places,” Fisher said. 

With her law background, she realized she was good at production and since then has mostly produced, though she has also directed and held other film roles. She now owns the independent film production company Fisher Productions, LLC. 

She has a passion for documentary films and has made several short ones on Mississippi, including “A Mississippi Love Story” in 2014. The short film followed her neighbors Eddie and Justin, a same-sex couple who were trying to get married during the time the Supreme Court ruled on marriage equality. 

Fisher came up with the idea after receiving a law magazine in the mail about the Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and another related case. She sensed it was going to be a big story in the United States and wanted to tell that local story to be symbolic of what was happening on a national scale. She hired a cinematographer and small film crew to follow the couple over the course of approximately a year and a half. 

“If you’re a filmmaker in Mississippi, you can see a great story in someone that you know just living right near you or just in your sphere in the world, and if you think there’s a story there, you can pretty much make a film about it,” she said. 

The film was well-received by film critics and earned awards. She also worked on feature films such as “As I Lay Dying,” a 2013 film based on William Faulkner’s novel, as the key production assistant. She appreciates the film teaching her about the amount of effort that went into creating a feature film. 

Fisher now calls Water Valley home and the last film she produced, “Delta Blind Spot,” featured a diner there. John W. Bateman directed and wrote the short narrative film, which is now showing at film festivals around the Southeast. 

She said being a native Mississippian and having lived here most of her life, she feels a need to represent the wonderful people and places in Mississippi. 

“As a Mississippi filmmaker and a Mississippi artist, essentially, I am in a great position to help tell those stories on film and show those places,” Fisher said.

 

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