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Lampton Enochs Presents “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”

Mac Gordon

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A McComb native son whose film career has netted the industry’s highest award will share the honor with homefolks as part of the city’s Sesquicentennial celebration.

That’s not surprising considering that Lampton Enochs’ family has been sharing and giving to the place they have called home since the mid-1800s.

Enochs will present the 2012 Academy Award-winning film that he produced, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” in showings on April 29-30 at the newly-renovated Palace Theater on Main Street. More than 1,000 McComb and Pike County school children and adults are expected to attend matinees both days as part of the city’s 150th birthday.

The McComb-Enochs connection began in the 1880s when Lampton’s grandfather and two brothers created a company town in 1884 at Fernwood, just south of McComb, with a saw mill and timber operations. They expanded to include two shortline railroads and a prominent lumber treating facility, Fernwood Industries, that lasted until the 1990s.

While providing meaningful jobs to a legion of citizens through those years, they’ve also been benefactors of so many other worthwhile business enterprises, projects and causes that it would take a book to describe all of them.

One of the most meaningful was the creation by Philip H. Enochs – the grandfather of Lampton Enochs – in the 1950s of a school in the hamlet of Fernwood for Black children, an act unheard in Mississippi in an era of wholly inadequate schools for minorities. Remnants of that school still exist.

The Enochs family remains tied to McComb and Pike County through the Fernwood Foundation, which contributes to educational, arts and religious organizations in the area.

Lampton Enochs’ career in film and television soared after he got a job in the late 1980’s in the mailroom of Los Angeles-based Castle Rock Entertainment, founded by the actor Rob Reiner. He moved up to a production assistant’s role, a location manager and ultimately to producer. In 2001, after Louisiana established a film incentive program, he moved back south to New Orleans.

He became friends with Bill Joyce, a children’s book author who also had worked in the animation industry. Enochs and two additional partners created a film animation studio in Shreveport, where the seeds of a short film project started to grow which ultimately led him to the Oscar stage.

As a “calling card” for the new studio, he and others embarked on the development of the “Flying Books” project that incorporated elements of Hurricane Katrina, The Wizard of Oz and films of the legendary actor-director Buster Keeton. Enochs was a co-producer with Alissa Kantrow, whose credits include the popular movies “Monster Ball” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou” and the television series “The Big Easy.”
“Once completed … to our delight, the film proved to be popular, winning Best Animated Short Film in several important festivals,” Enochs said. “That allowed us to be part of the pool of possible Academy Award nominees.” He and members of the group attended the Oscars in February 2012 where they enjoyed “the once-in-a-lifetime honor,” he said, of going onstage to accept filmdom’s highest award.
The story champions a young writer, Morris Lessmore, dolefully wandering into a library after a storm devastates his city filled with destroyed books flying through the air. The library transforms into a home of “magical flying books that literally come to life … When Morris has books back in his life again, he becomes brighter and happier,” wrote one reviewer.

This tale is illustrative of how the McComb Enochses have lived out their lives -- with benevolence and ingenuity.

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