TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — "In what I would describe as the most misguided idea we've ever had, Glenn and I thought an entire movie that takes place inside a car would be really easy to make," said Casey Dillard in 2018.

She's referencing the movie she wrote and stars in, "Driven," which filmed in Tupelo under the direction of Glenn Payne.

Now, more than a year later, the duo have wrapped production, begun entering festivals and are ready to premiere the film in the city where it was conceived.

Since finishing production on the feature-length film (which stars Dillard and "Supernatural" actor Richard Speight Jr.), Payne and Dillard have been working on the final cut, which was shown to a sold-out crowd at Oxford Film Festival in February.

"We had so many great reactions," Payne said of the screening. "It got us even more excited to show it in Tupelo."

Dillard said the film belongs to the city, and this is their way of giving back after the people of Tupelo gave so much during filming.

"So many people here helped make it possible," Dillard said. "We couldn't have made the movie if there hadn't been people here helping with locations and food and stuff like that.

"Tupelo stepped up, as they often do. We wanted to do this event for them. This is their premiere, to me."

Payne called the event a celebration.

"This was the biggest film that we've ever made and one of the neat things about that is getting to expand the team, locally and abroad," Payne said.

Past projects the co-creators have brought to the screen, like "Earthrise" and "Stagrassle Paranormal," have been filmed in Tupelo but "Driven" is the first to make the town as much a character as Roger (Speight), Emerson (Dillard) and, of course, the car.

"Film is a visual medium so making the decision to have this take place in a very tight space is a big risk," Dillard said of using the car as the point of the view of the movie. "But it was so rewarding. It's something I've been proud to be a part of. I love acting but I don't like seeing myself on screen that much. I watched the whole thing in Oxford, so that was very promising to me."

Payne and Dillard had many extras planned for Friday's screening of the film at Link Centre — including a photo booth, giveaways, merchandise and even a scavenger hunt.

Of the role, Speight told the Daily Journal in 2018 that he was honored to be invited to take part.

"Glenn and Casey reached out and said they had a script that they would love for me to look at for the lead role," Speight said. "I read it and it was super clever, fun and well-executed. The script is really clever and I haven't read anything like it. I thought my character was really fun and very well fleshed out and something I felt I could bring something to do.

"I'll do an indie project, but I'm also not going to hinder the project if I'm not right for the role. I don't want to do that to the filmmakers. I felt like this was a good match."

Currently, plans aren't in place for Speight to appear at the screening due to scheduling, but Payne and Dillard said he had seen the final cut of the film and thoroughly enjoyed it.

He wasn't the only one. Other film festivals are getting submissions of the film and distribution is the next step for the filmmakers as they've done with their previous projects, which are available on platforms like Amazon Prime and Apple TV.


Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com