The Big Prize: Soaking Up Soho by Leigh Ann Jernigan


The Big Prize, a short film I wrote and directed (with the help of some amazingly talented folks) screened last week as an official selection at the 2013 SOHO International Film Festival. I’ve been home for several days now and the best word I can come up to describe the experience is “surreal.”


The inspiration for my film came from a folk tale I found in a Caldecott Honor book “The Treasure” by Uri Shulevitz. It is about an old peasant man named Isaac who keeps having a dream about finding a treasure at the city bridge. He travels a long distance to get to the city and when he does… there is no treasure to be found. Isaac tells a guard who laughs him off as a foolish old man. The guard then proceeds to tell Isaac about own his dream – which tells the guard to go to a small town and find the house of a peasant named Isaac and there he will find a treasure.


 When I first started thinking about making this short film, I researched and found many areas of the world have some version of this tale. Sometimes the treasure was under a tree or near a fountain, or the hearth – but always there was a poor man and a dream. I knew my hero had to be female. I started plotting out the retelling and making notes. I also listened to Jon Stewart,my Director of Photography, who reminded me to add some conflict to the journey. That’s when I knew that the beginning and end would be inspired by the folk tale, but the journey would be a mix of synchronicity and learning that ‘saying yes’ to a journey is the way to move toward your dreams. You just have to be willing to go without knowing the outcome.


My 18-minute short film is about the adventure of a woman named Clara (Kelly Shipe) who keeps having a dream telling her to go to the city. Even though the “city” scenes in the film were shot in Knoxville, I always envisioned she would be traveling to New York City. One year after completing principal photography, that’s exactly where we were- The Big Apple!


It was an honor (and a real kick) to screen at the SOHO film festival in front of a nearly full house and take part in the Q & A session afterwards. My film got a lot of love! The energy of the festival was nothing short of electric. Kelly Shipe, Susannah Devereux, Matt, and I soaked up as much of the experience as possible. The organizers held a “red carpet” before each screening block and hosted after parties every night at local venues that created an atmosphere where people could meet, network, share their love of film and filmmaking…and dance. Yes, dance!


The whole experience was like a dream. A dream that came true because we said “yes” to the journey. The word I would use to describe it? Surreal.  


by  Leigh Ann Jernigan –  Director/Writer of The Big Prize and proud Flying Anvil Theatre Board Member


On The Red Carpet

With Kelly Shipe, Susannah Devereux, and Matt Jernigan as we pose with our poster right before our screening…to say we were excited would be an understatement!



Matt & I as we work the red carpet on the very first night we arrived…talk about jumping right in!


The Big Prize 

Screenplay, Directed, Produced by Leigh Ann Jernigan

Executive Producer – Matt Jernigan

Edited by Luke Dye

Music by John Thomas Oaks

Cinematography by Jon Stewart

Sound/Field Audio by Pete Carty

Field Audio – Paul Izbicki

Post Audio – Dylen Terflinger 

Makeup by Kimberley Thomas

Set Decoration Assistance by Amy Williams

Lighting Assistance by Kristen Tunstall 

Cast (in order of appearance)

Clara – Kelly Shipe

Marnie – Susannah Devereux

Vin – Jeff Delaney

Clint – Mitch Moore

Vera – Amy Williams

Bud – Luke Dye

Celeste – Erika Baldonado

Bartender – Matt Jernigan

Lyle – Keith McDaniel

Taxi Driver – Jerry Shipe

Posted in Updates Tagged with: , , , ,
One comment on “The Big Prize: Soaking Up Soho by Leigh Ann Jernigan
  1. kelewele says:

    Can’t wait to see it. Congratulations Leigh Ann!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *