Heat Exclusive: New Orleans Film Writer Teams Up With The Family Of Terrilyn Monette For An Upcoming Documentary

Terrilynn Sheri Monette

The discovery came 98 days after Terrilynn Monette disappeared after leaving a Lakeview bar early on March 2, 2013. The search for the 26-year-old celebrated teacher, whose disappearance garnered national media exposure grew into a community task. Orleans police led the search efforts and perused a plethora of surveillance tapes in an effort to discover what happened to her.
The Heat Magazine understands the pain that family members continue to feel after a tragic loss of a loved one. Our staff is blessed to connect with a young man who decided to get involved and become a stakeholder in narrating the untold story of Terrilynn Monette.

Larry Panna, a filmmaker  from New Orleans, recently produced and directed a documentary “98 Days: The Terrilynn Monette Story, School Teacher of The Year” in conjunction with Monette’s parents and immediate family.

Larry Panna (filmmaker)

The Heat Magazine wanted to accumulate a more thorough understanding of Monette’s life and clarify any misconceptions. Panna’s latest philanthropic efforts serve as an integral element and The Heat Magazine wanted to feature his story as well as Monette.

The Heat Magazine: What inspired you to create 98 Days?
Larry Panna: As with most people, I was disturbed by what I was witnessing. It was, and still is the talk of the town. I was glued to the news and my ears were never far from a radio. I wanted to help but wasn’t quite sure what I could do.
A colleague of mine, Shedrick Roy, approached me about speaking with the family of Terrilynn Monette. He had been a part of the search for Ms. Monette and Ms. Toni Enclade, Terrilynn’s mother, mentioned to him that she’d like to have a documentary done about her daughter’s life and her being missing for 98 days.
“Is this what I am to do?”, I asked of God. Without any further thought, I jumped in 1000 percent.
The Heat Magazine: Do you plan on making this work available on DVD and online for purchase?
Larry Panna: As part of a drive to start a scholarship in Terrilynn’s name here in New Orleans along with the already established scholarship in Long Beach, California, sales of the DVD will be available. Digital download is also in the works and will be available on my website. A director’s cut of the film is scheduled for release in the fall of 2017 with new interviews and information about the case.
Larry Panna: All of this and more is being done to assist children’s educational needs. We believe that the youth of these communities need as much assistance as they can get with pending cuts in education coming down the line.
The Heat Magazine: What inspired you to get into film and cinematography?
Larry Panna: I actually began as a magazine publisher. My dad was a printer and when his employer no longer needed his services, they gave him the printing presses he used as parting gifts of sorts. I came up with the idea in my sleep…”WREC Magazine”!
The Heat Magazine: Nice!
Larry Panna: This lead to a television show on a local access TV network, WRECTv. This is where I honed my skills, teaching myself how to shoot and edit video.
The Heat Magazine: What is the most important message you want to send out to the public via film?
Larry Panna: I can’t stress this fact enough, if you want it, go and get it! I made lots of sacrifices. Being away from home, running from this place to that place was a difficult task. But the payoff will be rewarding.  We all are cinematographers. Look at social media! Pick up your cell phone and start shooting. Use Media Maker or iMovie and create your own Hollywood!
The Heat Magazine: Are there any other works we can expect from you in the near future?
Larry Panna: There’s several projects already in the making. A music video for a popular New Orleans artist, my project BuyblackTV is in production, and another documentary film about the homeless is in the works. Be on the lookout for the launch of my marketing and advertising agency as well.
The Heat Magazine: Terrilynn was a young and energetic teacher with a promising future. Does this film give us a look into her legacy?
Larry Panna: It absolutely does! It starts with the story of Terrilynn’s life as a child with videos and photos chronicling her steps to fulfilling her dream to become a teacher. Toni Enclade is the glue that holds this story together. She is the true champion of this film in terms of how the story is told. It is her and Terrilynn’s story above all.
The Heat Magazine: It is a powerful story and The Heat Magazine wanted our readers to gather a closer look at Terrilynn’s story.
Larry Panna: Not everyone can be nominated to be teacher of the year. Terrilynn turned that school upside down, implementing changes that created success for her students! What an honor it must have been to come full circle and complete your mission as Ms. Monette did.
The Heat Magazine: Does the family have any additional plans? What are their current feelings about the documentary?
Larry Panna: The pride her father (Terry), mother (Toni) and sister (Kandice) must have, even today after all that has transpired. There are hopes that we can have the bridge crossing the bayou renamed in her honor or perhaps having the day she was found proclaimed as “Terrilynn Monette Day”. My goal is to help the family spread the word and to keep Terrilynn’s legacy alive.

About the author

DionNorman

Dion Norman is a professional music artist/journalist from Louisiana. Norman is an urban music enthusiast and has been writing since the mid 90s. He is also a stakeholder in the newly found New Orleans Union For Entertainment which is a new resource provider for New Orleans artists and businesses as well as a collective. For more information, feel free to email him at itsdevious@yahoo.com