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John Still: A Memphis entertainment legend - part two

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On December 19, 2013, the first part of an article was published here on the life of John Still. His mark on the entertainment field is so great that a single article would not cover his accomplishments, so today we shall take a look at part two of the Memphis entertainment legend.

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In the first article, we talked about a reception that was given John on December 7, 2013. Now, we will take a look at what fellow entertainers and friends that attended that reception had to say about John. The following notes were taken by Teresa Helmes and Michael Crohan at the reception.

Don Meyers is a professional actor and owner of DRM Productions,. He is also a friend of John's. Don has known John for approximately fifteen years. Earlier in his life, Don was a creative director in Los Angeles, and an actor in LA and Chicago. Memphis was his wife’s hometown, so they moved here. That’s where he met John.

Don’s first love has always been acting. When he started to get into acting again, he was told that John Still was the best actor he could meet. Don says he was lucky enough to work with John in a few short films and voice-overs and they became good friends. “I have always been in awe of John’s talent. Anytime there was a film that John was going to be in, I always wanted to work with him. John is a great actor and friend.”

Geoff and Jan Falk are husband and wife actors, and have known John about 12 years. Geoff's favorite movie that John has been in was “Live Animals.” His character came across on the screen as very believable and real. Jeff acted alongside John in the TV show, “Savage County.” John was the sheriff and Geoff was the deputy sheriff.

Geoff's most memorable thing with John was when he and Jan were working on the film "ASVS." They were cast in as news anchors. "There was a lot of dialog to remember. There was no way I could memorize all of that, so John volunteered his teleprompter. He came out on a Saturday and loaded everything on it for us to use. John wasn't in the film, but he came out to help and I'll never forget that.”

"John has a kind, giving spirit, always willing to help and share information. He is as good a friend as you could hope to have. I consider him a great actor and friend. I have learned a lot from him.”

Jan says one of the things that stands out with her about John is, “We were in acting classes at Red West Studio here in town years ago. Molli Benson from LA was here in Memphis teaching acting classes. Molli always paired John and me together in scenes. In the last class, without telling me, Mollie wanted John to pick me up and flip me over his shoulder. But when he got to the scene, John wouldn't do it because he was afraid that he would hurt me. John has a heart of gold. We've had so many laughs together. We've laughed and we've cried together.”

Marquerite Hibbets is a Memphis Actress. She says she first met John in acting classes with Lisa Lax. She has acted with John about three times, and stated that he also helped with the teleprompter classes. According to Marguerite, her favorite film that she acted in with John was “Head Shop.” She played the D. A. and John was one of the detectives. She has known John about nine years and they are good friends. “John is a great guy to work with and I enjoy it very much. He is one of those people that, as soon as you meet him, you just immediately feel comfortable.”

J. W. Williams, actor and singer/songwriter has known John about ten years. J W has not worked with John in films but they are both with the Lisa Lax Agency. They have had somewhat parallel careers. They are always working on a film at the same time and place, just not on the same movie. They are great friends. J.W. says, “John is a very fine quality of a man. I never saw him be uppity to anyone. He’s always true to himself and his career. That’s Class!”

Actor Ernie Salera has known John about eight years. They are both with the Lisa Lax Agency. They first met in teleprompter class together. Ernie says, “John was already good at it.” Ernie and John have never done any films together but they have enjoyed taking classes together, group get-togethers, and going on audition trips together.

Ernie says, the last trip they took was about a year ago to go audition for parts in the James Franco film, “As I lay dying,” down in Mississippi. “We all had to drive down together. You get to know people on those trips. We waited in line a long time. It was funny going to the interview. The scene was from the 1930s. They were looking for a pharmacist. Everyone there looked like Col. Sanders except me. John auditioned for a different character and he landed the part, because he’s that good. He has a natural ability to act. It just comes right to him. That amazes me about him.

“John is a very sincere and very good person at heart. He is a wonderful man to meet. Even with the success he has had, he’s still so approachable and down to earth.”

Nora Childers is a Memphis based actress. Nora has been friends with John for five or six years. She met him at a film mixer and they chatted about working in film, voice-over and acting classes and projects they were working on. She had a couple of opportunities to act with him, but it didn't work out. They are both with the Lisa Lax Acting Agency. He says, “John is a very nice man to be around and to know. He is full of interesting stories. He’s a great storyteller. Every time I see him, he is a spark of joy.”

Lisa Lax, owner of the Lisa Lax Agency, met John 30 years ago at Chevy's for a Luna Production. John worked for Luna and they were having a party. Lisa was working as an actress at the time and she was there and met John. Lisa and John would see each other at different functions in town. The hung out with the same group, known as the Memphis Voice People, all voice-over talent.

Lisa thought that John had a such a great voice. He was called “The Voice” all over town. But he also had a great face and great character. She thought he shouldn't just be behind a microphone, that his talent wasn't being utilized to full capacity. So, Lisa encouraged him to pursue acting. Lisa says, “At that time, I had an acting group. He participated and we became good friends. That's where the whole thing began."

She says, “John has a love of people. There are so many people that he has influenced. He loves the actors that have worked with him and they become friends instantly. He was really passionate about bringing Molli Benson back to Memphis to give acting classes because she made such a difference in his skill and acting ability. And, he wanted to help her help other people. That was really admirable in him because we didn't have that in Memphis at that time and he wanted to share that with the acting community. That's a gift, an insight he has. He has a great passion.”

Jon Sparks, Memphis writer and actor, first saw John in the film “Poor and Hungry.” He has known John about ten years. He remembers he had an enormous impact on him. “He was the scariest person I've ever seen in life! It’s kind of a ‘gift,’ very realistic, very authentic.” They worked together for the first time in, “Live Animals.” Jon was a feed store owner and one of the few people that John didn't kill in that film. Sparks says, "The thing that sticks out the most from that film…. I had to carry a big bag of feed in a scene. I probably would have gotten hurt, but John told me the correct way to carry it without hurting myself. John is a man of great character and a mesmerizing storyteller.”

John has certainly made his mark in radio and films, and that can be attested to by his achievement list in IMDb (Internet Movie Database). His films include:

Producer Craig Brewer cast him for a part in the move, “Melody's Surviving” in 1997. It was shot over several months but was never completed.

Craig's next project would be “The Poor and Hungry” released in 2000. The P & H would go on to win several independent film awards, which would make John Still a household name in the independent film community.

Craig Brewer's next film was “Hustle and Flow” (2005), which was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival and set the record for being the highest purchased Indy film. John said, “It was wonderful working with Craig Brewer again.” The film was about a ne'er-do-well who wanted to be a rapper. The rappers, 3-6 Mafia, won best song of the year at the Academy Awards for “It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp. Lead character, Terrance Howard, goes to John's character, a pawn shop owner, to negotiate for a better microphone to help in the recording of his original music.

“Black Snake Moan” (2006), would be John's next opportunity to work with Craig, and starred Samuel L. Jackson, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Richie. John had a scene where he was a bartender and had dialog with Justin Timberlake.

The next film John did was “Shutter” (2007), by Jeremy Benson. It was a “Family First, Blood Thicker than Water” film. The movie sold overseas.

Then came “Live Animals” (2008). A film by Jeremy Benson. The storyline was about the black market of white slavery. College kids were kidnapped to be sold as slaves. He had to break their spirit before he sold them. His favorite line was, “I broke my first horse at 13. It took three weeks. I broke my first man in 3 days. I don't think it will take me that long with you.” Mark Williams and Jeremy Benson were the producers.

After “Live Animals,” He then played a sheriff in “Savage County,” that aired on TV. It was a suspense/slasher movie about kids who got kidnapped by an old family who live out in the woods. John had a big part with a dramatic twist as the sheriff of Savage County. He was friends with the old family. This was kept secret until the end. “Savage County” came out in a comic book later.

The Craig Brewer re-make of the 1986 film, “Footloose” came next with John appearing as a race track official in which he had a speaking part. The film was a Nationwide release.

Then in 2012, came the nationally released James Franco film, “As I Lay Dying,” in which John played the part of a farmer. This was followed by the 2013 release of the TJ Cates Production of "Como Hunt Club", in which John played the part of a moonshiner.

John played the part of a grandfather in Jeremy Benson's "Girl in the Woods."

Other films include"Headshop" (Internet series), "The Train to Funky Island," "Falls Cabin," "The Romance of Loneliness," "Just the Two of Us," "The Right Questions" and "Memphis & Charleston Railroad: Marriage of the Waters" (TV movie documentary).

The last film that John has appeared in is “Grace,” a Miles2Go Production by Director Michael Crohan, which has not yet been released. John who is in 90% of the film, plays the central character who is unable to speak. The trailer of this film can be seen in the video section of this article.

As you can see, John Still is a much sought after actor, who not only has brought his talents to film and TV, but also has made his mark in radio. This writer waits anxiously for the next film project John takes on.

If you do not already subscribe to the Memphis Film Industry articles written by Gerry Glenn Jones in the Examiner, you can do so by clicking on the subscribe link near the top of this page, and enter your email address. This is a free internet publication, and you will be notified by email when a new article is published. But, until next time, "Keep those cameras rolling!"


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