BOGATA — Jalyn English has dreams of producing video games for Nintendo, but on his way to a career in gaming design, the 20-year-old has a couple movie productions under his belt.
An honors student at Northeast Texas Community College in Mount Pleasant, English is director of “Pilgrimage: A Story of Northeast Texas,” set to premier early next year.
The film traces the life of poultry magnate Bo Pilgrim, who died in 2017.
“It examines how the struggle of Pilgrim’s Pride — led by Baptist Sunday School teacher Bo Pilgrim — with Tyson Foods — led by Arkansas playboy Don Tyson — shaped our area,” NTCC honors director Andrew Yox said of the production.
It is English’s second experience in filmmaking as he produced last year’s award-winner, “Starlight: Adina de Zavala and the making of a Patriotic Supersite.” The film features the “second siege” of the Alamo when Zavala led the Daughters of the Texas Republic in the successful purchase and restoration of the bench house property where William Travis and other heroes died.
“The NTCC film crew functioned with the efficiency of a soap opera set thanks to Jaylyn English,” Yox said in a release about the film and the challenges Covid-19 caused on the set. “English, producer of NTCC’s 2019 Caldwell award-winning film, provided needed continuity in technical knowhow.”
English is a graduate of Mt. Vernon High School, where he attended because of the school’s focus on computer science, audio-visual production and graphic design. His parents, Quincy and Latrisha English, teach at Rivercrest ISD, where she is assistant principal at Rivercrest Elementary and he is a football/basketball coach at the high school.
Explaining the difference between producing and directing, English said a director manages staging, choreography and how shots are taken while a producer does post editing by adding music and special effects.
“Before I was not sure I could manage a project like this and take control, but I think I have done a pretty good job,” English said of his role as director.
About how the film portrays Pilgrim, English said it follows his life from the time Pilgrim was young and the challenges he faced when his father died and his mother married a non-Christian “who cursed a lot and drank.”
Pilgrim and his brother, Aubrey Pilgrim, co-founded Pilgrim’s Pride when the two opened a feed store in Pittsburg, Texas, in 1946. The brother died in 1966 and Pilgrim became the company’s chief operating officer.
“I think this film portrays Pilgrim as a hard worker with Christian morals and with goals for his life and for his company,” English said. “He may have made a few mistakes, like how to bribe a Congressman, but how he fights off temptations and focuses on what he thinks God wants him to do is admirable.”
In Yox’s preview of the film, the professor writes that Pilgrim’s drive to be “number one” and his “messianic sense of mission’’ was a culturally condonable craving.
“And yet many local residents became vitriolic opponents of Pilgrim’s drive to be number one made his corporation oblivious to many environmental and social problems his business was creating,” Yox said.
“The film, however, is also straightforward in demonstrating the importance of Pilgrim’s forays. Like cotton in the 1850s, Northeast Texas, after a long period of searching, clicked with chicken in the late 20th Century.
“Agribusiness flourished, farming declined. Pilgrim’s effort to ‘redeem rural America’ restored a sense of purpose to the area, but also changed it in fundamental ways.”
Yox credited Pilgrim with working to “establish a conservative, church-going vibe to the region.”
“Though oblivious to many traditional symbols of Texas identity, he worked hard to make the state business-friendly, and attuned to its roots in the Bible Belt.”