In mid-November of last year, just as the Cucalorus Film Festival was opening, filmmakers Erika Edwards and Kristi Ray of the Wilmington production company Honey Head Films hosted a “hive-warming” for their new offices at 15th and Castle streets in the trendy Cargo District. 
Wine was poured, nosh was dished, cans of Wilmington beer from the TRU Colors brewery were cracked and, to whoops and hollers of celebration, Ray and Edwards cut a ribbon (yellow, naturally) to christen their new digs.
They’d actually moved into their new office back in August, but the pandemic pushed back the grand opening. 
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“We’ve had no time to pause and celebrate,” Ray said during an interview a couple of weeks later in the austere, stylishly decorated offices they share with several other woman-led start-ups. 
But, as part of the hive-warming — that’s “hive” as in bees, as in bees that make honey, which is yellow like the blonde hair both Ray and Edwards have — they wanted to debut for friends and supporters their “proof of concept” for what will be Honey Head’s first feature film, the Southern drama “A Song for Imogene,” which they hope to start production on this spring. 
On Thursday, Jan. 13, Honey Head will officially launch its fundraising effort for “Imogene,” done through the film-centric crowdfunding site Seed&Spark, with an event at Blue Surf Arboretum West, 414 Arboretum Drive in Wilmington. 
Starting at 6:30 p.m., a percentage of sales will be donated by Blue Surf to the production budget of “A Song for Imogene.” Reservations are recommended, but not required. At 8 p.m., Ray and Edwards will speak about the project, show their proof-of-concept footage in public for the first time, answer questions from the audience and solicit donations to their fundraiser. 
Honey Head was founded in 2016, about a year after Ray and Edwards had met while working on an independent movie. They’re both actors, and “we were really bored with the kinds of roles we were being asked to audition for,” Ray said. “Two cute blonde girls, we felt like we were being put in a box.”
And so, following advice that’s pretty common in the filmmaking world, rather than trying to get into other people’s movies, they decided to make their own. 
From “not knowing anything about filmmaking,” Ray said, they’ve gone on to make 13 narrative shorts, as well as documentaries, videos and commercials, many of them in conjunction with other area filmmakers. 
They’ve had success, too, winning best short film at the Hollywood Verge Film Awards in 2017 and at the Tryon International Film Fest in 2018. “The Honeys,” as they’re sometimes known, have been profiled by multiple Wilmington media outlets, and won the “best filmmakers” award from former local weekly Encore.
Just this week, Honey Head was out shooting a proof-of-concept trailer for a feature film called “Prophets.” Directed by Edwards from a script by Wilmington filmmaker J.R. Rodriguez, it tackles the issues of human trafficking.
In some ways, the real coming-out party for Honey Head was last spring, when they hosted the Wilmington Underground Film Festival, or WUFF, in the backyard of Satellite Bar & Lounge. Buoyed by a huge crowd hungry for a social outlet after months of pandemic lockdown, and featuring a diverse array of music videos by an impressive slate of Wilmington musicians, it was one of the most memorable Wilmington gatherings of the year. 
Ray and Edwards come across very differently, with Ray a gracious, deeply friendly earth-mother type and Edwards carrying more of a polite-and-professional vibe. Correspondingly, they’ve taken on different roles at Honey Head. Both share the titles of co-founders and creative producers, with Ray working more on the pre-production side and Edwards taking on directing and post-production duties. 
Ray continues to act as well, and is playing the title role in “A Song for Imogene.”  Edwards wrote the screenplay, but she wrote it with Ray in mind, based in part on Ray’s experiences growing up in rural North Carolina. 
“I go home, and I see ‘Imogene,'” Ray said. 
Both women say there’s a gap in the market for Southern films with stories Edwards calls “authentic, stripped down and honest.” 
“At the end of the day,” she said, “we want it to feel real.”
In the movie, Imogene is a woman dealing with the recent death of her mother while trying to escape from a toxic and possibly dangerous relationship. It also delves into the difficulties and rewards of family.
Ray and Edwards call “A Song for Imogene” a project that’s seven years in the making, as they’ve been talking about it since not long after they met. In a way, they see themselves as representing the visibility, and the viability, of the independent film community in Wilmington, a town whose film industry has exploded in the past year, with 2021 seeing a record $300 million worth of feature film and television projects shot here. 
That doesn’t always trickle down to the independent film community, they said, and their goal is to help build an indie production base to “help keep Wilmington on the map as a film city” during the inevitable ebb and flow of big-budget productions. 
They’re only trying to raise about $150,000 for “A Song for Imogene,” which they say will enable them to show potential investors on future projects that they can turn low-budget into high quality. 
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In the meantime, they’re trying to get their community invested in the process, in part with a podcast called “Raw Unfiltered Honey” that documents their filmmaking journey. New episodes are released every Wednesday on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and other platforms. 
Contact John Staton at 910-343-2343 or 
What: Honey Head Films Seed&Spark fundraising kickoff for their debut feature, “A Song for Imogene”
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13
Where: Blue Surf Arboretum West, 414 Arboretum Drive, Wilmington
Details: Percentage of sales donated by Blue Surf to the production budget of “Imogene.” Reservations recommended, but not required. At 8 p.m., proof-of-concept footage of the feature will be shown.


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