Photo: Emphati Cinema
Mine 9 provides a vivid look at life for those who are in the coal mining industry. The film, directed and produced by Eddie Mensore, reveals how coal miners can face a catastrophe by merely showing up to a job.
Mensore, and production designer on the film, Tim Barrett of Tim Barrett Designs, share their thoughts on the impact of Mine 9 which recently won “Best Feature Film Drama” at Cinequest in San Jose, California.
How did the concept for Mine 9 come about?
Mensore: I am from West Virginia, so coal was around my entire life. Many coal mine accidents happened, and I always thought it would be a great story.
Tim, what were your initial thoughts when you were introduced to the film?
Barrett: The script was well-written and presented a new series of design and build challenges. The story required an outside-of-the-box approach, not just building another kitchen or living room set.
Why was it important to tell the story of coal miners?
Mensore: It’s important to watch this movie as a contained thriller. However, for me as a [West Virginia] filmmaker, I want people on the outside to take their political beliefs out of the picture and see what these brave men and women provide for all of us non-miners. They are why we can turn on our lights.
How has the coal mining industry affected generations of families?
Mensore: Coal mining is generational. It’s like the military. Coal mining started in 1908. Many miners today can tell stories of their parents, grandparents and on and on. They mine coal as a sense of pride to their ancestry.
How does the film reflect on larger political issues in America?
Mensore: I hope the movie is not political and viewed as a good claustrophobic thriller. However, I realize that coal is political. I simply want people on the outside to respect these brave men and women for their sacrifice.
What was the most difficult part of creating the film?
Mensore: The most difficult part of making the film was making the film in an environment that is 4 feet from the floor to the ground. It’s like Mad Max in a Being John Malkovich environment.
Barrett: What you don’t realize until you’ve been down there, is just how far down you really go. We went miles underground, on location and filmed in those conditions. You get to live the way those miners did for a little bit. It gives you perspective.
What was the best part about creating the film?
Mensore: The best part about making the film is right now, premiering the film in Appalachia for the coal mining communities. They have liked it so far. Many miners and their family members telling us stories. A lot of tears and smiles, but all love.
Barrett: Creating our own mine at the studio was a real blast. Turning the stage into a mine was an incredible experience.
How will this film impact society today and in the future?
Mensore: My only hope is that people put their political beliefs aside and have respect for what these brave men and women provide for us all.
Barrett: The fact that people are still living this way and need to work under these conditions is eye-opening. I think this film will wake a lot of people up to the quality of life for many Americans, in the coal industry and other industries.
Mine 9 will be screened at the Plaza Theater from April 19 through April 25. A premiere party will take place at 10 Krog St., Atlanta, Ga 30307 on April 19.