Phi Mu On The Big Screen

Phi Mu sisters, IFC fraternity members and Director Hill Bermont on the set of the Phi Mu movie, "Carnation Ball" at the Alpha Alpha Chapter House at the University of Georgia.

A movie about Phi Mu had long been a dream of Adele Redditt Williamson, Delta. When she was National President the idea was proposed at the 1964 National Convention and funding was found. Collegiate members agreed to an assessment of one dollar per member per year for the 1964-66 biennium. The assessment was continued another biennium, resulting
in sufficient funds for the project. Alumnae did not participate in raising the funds.

Annadell receives copy of the Phi Mu movie at Purdue University in 1967 from collaborator on script Yolande Branham.
Annadell receives copy of the Phi Mu movie at Purdue University in 1967 from collaborator on script Yolande Branham.

The University of Georgia Communications Department was selected in 1965 to produce the movie, with Hill Bermont as director. The department’s Yolande Branham finalized the script originated by Public Relations Director Annadell Craig Lamb, Delta Alpha.

Having the primary site of the movie located at the University of Georgia eliminated extensive travel costs, since the impressive new home of Alpha Alpha Chapter could be used for most of the scenes. Scenes about Phi Mu’s heritage were filmed in nearby Macon, location of Wesleyan College and the Philomathean Room. Other chapters featured in the movie were filmed at Mr. Bermont’s specific direction by local motion picture photographers. The chapters were Eta Zeta at Fresno State College, Alpha Eta at Louisiana State University, Epsilon at Millsaps College, Eta Iota at University of Arizona and Delta Epsilon at Purdue University.

L to R: Ruth Hoffman, Delta Epsilon; Annadell Lamb, Delta Alpha; and Betty DeVault, Delta Epsilon preparing invitations for the premiere of
L to R: Ruth Hoffman, Delta Epsilon; Annadell Lamb, Delta Alpha; and Betty DeVault, Delta Epsilon preparing invitations for the premiere of “Carnation Ball.”

There were no professional actresses or actors in the movie. The collegiate and alumnae members represented in the film were really Phi Mus, and the young men were fraternity friends of Alpha Alpha members.

The first film of its kind to be produced by a women’s fraternity, Phi Mu’s “Carnation Ball” was an 18-minute color production with sound, costing $7,000. Fourteen copies, at $100 each, were purchased by Phi Mu. They were kept in constant circulation for several years.

The movie was based on preparations for a Phi Mu dance, the traditional Carnation Ball. As chapter members make preparations for the dance, five of them and their Chapter Adviser, one by one, tell what part Phi Mu has played in her life. The film featured the Fraternity’s emphasis on scholarship, social service, alumnae membership, group participation and recruitment.

Although the film was about Phi Mu, it was not a documentary or history of the organization. It was intended primarily for audiences of prospective members or for use in extension visits. It was made available for Phi Mu groups for their chapter development programs, for member recruitment, cultural hours, parents’ days, all-campus convocations, chapter alumnae weekends and state days.

As a representation of sorority life, the movie was used by many Panhellenic groups for high school orientation programs and similar occasions. It was shown also at national meetings of college administrators and of other NPC sororities. Its most extensive use, however, was in Phi Mu extension work.

L to R: Alpha Chi Rho Past National President Dr. R. B. Stewart; Phi Mu Foundation Past Treasurer Lillian Olssen Stewart, Delta Epsilon; and Delta Epsilon House Mother Mary Byrnes gathered for the premiere of
L to R: Alpha Chi Rho Past National President Dr. R. B. Stewart; Phi Mu Foundation Past Treasurer Lillian Olssen Stewart, Delta Epsilon; and Delta Epsilon House Mother Mary Byrnes gathered for the premiere of “Carnation Ball.”

The film premiered in connection with the National Leadership Conference at Purdue University in July 1967. An excited crowd of about 400 came to the movie’s first showing. Guests included national officers and other representatives of many fraternities and sororities, community leaders, Purdue University administrators, Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council representatives, local alumnae and their husbands, and of course, the Phi Mus attending the Leadership Conference from all parts of the country.

Filing
Filing “Carnation Ball” at the Alpha Alpha Chapter at the University of Georgia.


Source: Lamb, Annadell. C. The History of Phi Mu: The First 150 Years. The Grace Group, 2002. Print.