HATTIESBURG, Mississippi – Shot entirely on the Mississippi coast, school principal Sean Riley’s second film, “Royal Jelly,” used local talent to create a bee horror film.
Now available on major streaming platforms including Amazon, iTunes and YouTube, the horror feature sees protagonist Aster, a high school outcast and bee enthusiast played by Southern University alumnus Elizabeth McCoy. from Mississippi, taken under the wing of a mysterious mentor, only to find that she is being groomed like the next queen of a beehive.
Riley, writer, director and producer of the film, said the idea for the story originated in 1999 but was reworked in 2019, with production starting the same year and ending in 2020.
He came up with the idea for the film after learning about bee hierarchies at USM as an undergraduate student. Riley found it interesting that the bee hierarchy, with females at the top, contrasts with traditional societal roles. He wanted to incorporate that into his film.
“It’s kind of like overturning what we might think of as mainstream society,” Riley said. “I knew the concept was the foundation for making a good movie.”
The bees in the movie were manipulated by Dan Allen, a beekeeper from Jackson County, Mississippi.
Riley also wrote, produced and directed “Fighting Belle” (2017).