By Morgan Bryce
Four years of hard work has finally paid off for Opelika High School graduate and Atlanta filmmaker T.W. Ballew, who released a trio of short films on Vimeo in late December.
Five minutes each in duration, the film’s titles “Mes belles,” “Mindha Herdeira” and “mi mujer” reflect the blossoming relationship between Ballew and his now-wife Laura, who starred in the trilogy. While she was a main but not primary character in Mes belles, he said she grew into the protagonist role for the last two films.
“I discovered her several years ago and thought she had great talent and great range. These three films are really character studies to explore her range as an actor,” Ballew said. “In the first film, she is one of three main characters, but by the second (film), she is fully front and center as the protagonist.”
Starting with Mes belles, which was filmed in Birmingham in 2015, Ballew moved to Chicago and later New York, which serve as the locations for the last two films.
Ballew, a full-time pianist, oversaw nearly every aspect of making these films in his spare time. He released the films in late December on his film company’s Vimeo page, Turnaround Pictures, LLC.
“I hope people who like movies with deep stories and several possible interpretations will find and like my work and unlock these films like a puzzle … see how they correlate or differ and piece it all together,” Ballew said.
While Ballew did discover his passion and knack for filmmaking in college, he credits a large part of his storytelling knowledge to his time spent under Revel Gholston of the Opelika High School Theatre Society. Ballew originally came to the school as a concert pianist before deciding he wanted to try his hand at acting.
“Revel teaches a number of theatre courses, including technical theatre as well as creative writing for theatre, that helped me learn the ins and outs of production. I feel like I had a holistic, theatrical study while I was there at OHS,” Ballew said.
Next on Ballew’s radar is finishing a feature-length film project titled “Quiet Nights,” which he has been working on since his senior year at OHS in 2010. It will be a coming-of-age story about a composer who goes to a summer music camp and falls in love.
“For me, film is just a thing that I love and care so deeply about. It exists separately from my concern for my livelihood,” Ballew said. “I’ve been able to pay the bills with piano and set aside time on my own to hash out these passion projects.”
To view these films, search “Turnaround Pictures” on Vimeo. They cost $3 to rent and watch.