“Get On Up” Premieres

Film Has Prep Connection


James Brown was a soul/funk/R&B singer and songwriter born in the 1930s. Some of his most popular songs include “Get Up Offa That Thing” and “I Got You (I Feel Good).” Throughout his career he was called “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business” as well as “The Godfather of Soul.”

One of the most notable things about James Brown isn’t necessarily related to his musical talent, but his humble beginnings. James Brown grew up in the rural South, and that was not a fun place to be in the 30s. His struggle to fame has inspired a biographical film called Get On Up, and the film has strong ties to Jackson Prep.

Get On Up was directed by Tate Taylor, a native of Mississippi as well as a Prep alum. He also directed The Help, a movie based on a novel also written by a Prep alum.

Hudson Chadwick as "The Godfather of Soul" James Brown.
Hudson Chadwick as “The Godfather of Soul” James Brown.

In Get On Up, Chadwick Boseman portrays James Brown, along with other actors like Nelsan Ellis, playing Bobby Byrd, and Viola Davis playing Susie Brown. Craig Robinson, famous for his role of Darryl in The Office, also makes an appearance. Rock legend Mick Jagger, the lead singer for The Rolling Stones, produced the movie.

The shooting of the movie was done mostly in Mississippi. In Natchez, the film crew built a replica of the Apollo Theater in Harlem, where James Brown performed an excellent live record in 1962. The stage was actually built inside of a high school auditorium. (That would have made for a great school forum if it weren’t summer.)

To celebrate the fact that Get On Up was filmed in Mississippi, before the movie hit theaters, there was a premiere, which several members of the Prep community were able to attend.

Among them was Dr. Jason Walton, the new Head of School, and Ms. Crisler Boone, the Head of External Affairs.

Dr. Walton highly praises the movie, saying “As far as biographical films go, I think this is as fine a cinematic effort as I have seen. Chadwick Boseman positively transforms into James Brown on screen.”

A special pass to the film’s Madison premiere.

Dr. Walton also expresses how deeply rooted the film’s production was in Mississippi. He said “I did recognize many familiar settings from both Jackson and Natchez. Spectators from our area will certainly recognize locations (and some people) familiar to them which brings a special level of enjoyment to the movie going experience.”

Chadwick Boseman positively transforms into James Brown on screen.”

— Dr. Jason Walton

Ms. Boone expresses a similar satisfaction with the film in her statement: “The movie was fabulous. It elicits a variety of emotional responses… laughter, sadness, joy, and of course, trying not to dance in one’s seat while listening to great music!”

Ms. Boone was also able to pinpoint many of the locations the movie was shot. She says, “I immediately recognized the Elite Restaurant and Thalia Mara. It was also fun to look for people who I might know that had served as ‘extras’ in the movie.”

When asked if she enjoyed the movie, and Prep graduate Ms. Sarah Frances Hardy responded, “I loved the movie! And I have recommended it to everyone. Tate told the story of one of the greats of music history with his signature brilliance, humor, and depth. The movie skipped forwards and backwards in time, always taking the audience back to the music… or as James Brown would say, ‘the funk’.”