The filming of Attaché
Filmmaker Feature

Filmmaker Interview: Melissa Overholt

May 18, 2020 by Heather Leighton

The Clinton, Mississippi High School Attaché Show Choir is considered to be among the most successful in history. Melissa Overholt highlights how Clinton public school's music programs manage to thrive in a region where arts and music funding have been virtually demolished and attitudes to popular music have been slow to change. Composed of students from different backgrounds, Attaché unites generations of performers and newcomers to travel across the country and compete with a heart-pounding routine. Read more about the behind-the-scenes filming of Attaché below. 

This interview has been edited for clarity.

What inspired you to make your film? 

I love stories of people young and old doing inspiring, positive things, particularly out of the South, and this was one of those stories. It was a no-brainer that at some point the story of Attaché should be told to inspire students, parents, and educators alike!

When I started this project in 2016 there was a lot of negative news coming out of the South –– I was thrilled to spotlight the positive!  

How did you get connected to your subject? 

It takes place in the town I grew up in…I was so proud to shine a spotlight on how special the city of Clinton, MS is!

Were there any parts you wish you could have included in the film? If so what were they? 

Oh, I wish I could have followed them the entire year. That is my biggest regret. I would have loved to have shown the growth of the students from tryouts to the final performance, the true grind and sweat equity they put in, the bond that is formed along the way, as well as show more backstory of current members. Maybe that’s the sequel, ha!  

Were there parts with very interesting backstories that weren't totally relayed in the final film? Or what was your favorite behind-the-scenes moment?

What’s unique about members of the group, as well as the teachers, is that they each have such unique backstories. In the end, that is what makes Attaché special. These kids are each so different and Attaché unites them and tears down those walls.  

What do you hope people learn/hope they take away from your film? 

I hope viewers appreciate what young people are capable of. I hope young people learn no matter your circumstances in life you can accomplish anything if you work hard. I hope educators and parents are inspired by seeing what you put into students you are sure to get out of them, if you believe in them they believe in themselves. I hope lawmakers/school boards see the value of musics/arts in public schools…it’s just as important as other "sports." 

Is there anything else you'd like to share with the Reel South audience?

It was my honor to share the story, and I hope it puts a smile on people's faces. We need more positive, uplifting content these days.

What advice would you give other filmmakers or others interested in documentary film?

If you have an idea and a passion for it just start shooting. Don’t overthink it!  

Can you complete this sentence: "What defines you…”

The imprint I leave on others whether it be my own children or a complete stranger.


Documentary Filmmaking