Instructor chronicles Phils’ reconstruction of Phil Campbell

Andrew Reed’s “I’m with Phil’ documents the destruction caused by tornados in Phil Campbell last April, and how a local festival helped rebuild the town.

In February 2011, UNA film and digital media instructor Andrew Reed was contacted by a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y. named Phil Campbell. Campbell informed Reed of his plans to invite people across the world named Phil Campbell to a convention in Phil Campbell in June of that year.

This set the stage for Reed to begin work on a documentary titled “I’m with Phil” that would chronicle the convention and go on to win three awards at this year’s George Lindsey UNA Film Festival.

“This was going to be the 100-year anniversary of Phil Campbell being an incorporated township, so Brooklyn Phil thought this was a great time to have another convention,” Reed said. “A friend told me about the convention on Facebook in February of 2011, and that was when I started doing my documentary on the convention.

“After the tornado hit, we heard that the Phils still wanted to come in June, but instead of coming for fun, they wanted to come and help us rebuild and raise money for the town. Brooklyn Phil Campbell convinced me to continue doing the documentary and to use it as a fund-raising tool to help the town.”

In June 2011, the Phil Campbells arrived in Phil Campbell, Ala. They raised $30,000 to aid the town as it began rebuilding after the tornado.

“The entire documentary is about the Phils coming to Phil Campbell, Ala.,” Reed said. “Aspects of the documentary focus on the tornado and the rebuilding efforts—yes—but only in Phil Campbell. ‘I’m with Phil’ is not a movie about the April 27 tornado outbreak.”

Reed said he is pleased with the reception of the documentary and its success.

“I was very proud to win best of show at the George Lindsey UNA Film Festival,” he said. “Students in the film and digital media production program need to realize that they have a lot of opportunities available to them at UNA. We offer students a solid education, a wide selection of HD equipment and an excellent film festival to screen their work. What more could one ask for?”

Reed said he recruited several UNA students to assist him with the documentary.

“(Reed) said he needed some help,” said UNA student Andrew Baker, who worked on the documentary. “I filmed four full days in the summer with him in Phil Campbell. I think the film can connect with everybody. I met a lot of great people in Phil Campbell. The tornado did not take the hearts of the town’s residents. It did not break their spirits.”

UNA student Nicholas Moore also worked on the documentary.

“One of my biggest roles in the film was to talk to the locals, to get their stories and feelings on the convention and the atrocities that disrupted the town weeks earlier,” Moore said. “I interviewed a Phil Campbell restaurant owner who had his home and restaurant taken by the tornado. It was so terribly damaged that he couldn’t open it or generate any income. They didn’t know what they were going to do.”