Breaking Dawn Will Be Beneficial To The Baton Rouge Market
Baton Rouge’s film industry will gain some fresh blood this fall as the next installment of the “Twilight” saga comes to shoot in the capital city.
Summit Entertainment has announced it will be filming parts of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn” in Baton Rouge and Vancouver, Canada, beginning in the fall.
Amy Mitchell-Smith, executive director of the Baton Rouge Film Commission, said Summit has been scouting locations and researching Baton Rouge for “well over a month.”
Summit is still deliberating what will specifically be filmed in Baton Rouge, Mitchell-Smith said, but the production will begin sometime this fall.
Mitchell-Smith said she couldn’t confirm specific dates, but she expects the project will remain in the city until spring 2011.
“That in and of itself makes this, aside from the pop culture phenomenon aspect of ‘Twilight,’ something that will be hugely beneficial for the [Baton Rouge] market,” she said.
“Breaking Dawn,” the fourth chapter in the “Twilight” story, will be released as two separate films in the franchise, which has grossed more than $1.4 billion worldwide to date, according to a news release from Summit Entertainment.
Getting the vampire film juggernaut to the Red Stick was the result of aggressive marketing by the Baton Rouge Film Commission, said Paul Arrigo, chairman of the BRFC and president of the Baton Rouge Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“The Baton Rouge Film Commission was very involved with soliciting and nabbing ‘Twilight’ for Baton Rouge,” Arrigo said.
Mitchell-Smith said she worked hard to communicate constantly with the film’s producers, making herself available at all times for questions about production.
“We’re putting our best foot forward in the market and showing them exactly what it is they want to see,” she said. “This is about customer service, first and foremost.”
In addition to Louisiana’s tax incentives to production studios, Mitchell-Smith said Baton Rouge offers a wide array of benefits that lure projects to the city.
“The film industry obviously spends so much money locally that another major reason you have local offices like our Baton Rouge Film Commission is so we can be aggressive promoters and marketers of our area,” she said.
One of the city’s programs to benefit film studios is a “grassroots vendor discount program,” Mitchell-Smith said.
The program includes more than 70 local businesses, ranging from office supply stores to restaurants, spas and car rental companies, which typically offer 15- to 20-percent discounts to film productions.
In addition to helping keep production costs manageable for film studios, the program also benefits local businesses that get more traffic and can create brand awareness in the film industry, Mitchell-Smith said.
The production’s prolonged presence in Baton Rouge will be advantageous for local crew members who will have work for as long as the project is in the city.
“Sometimes you’re on a show for two to three months, then you’re looking for another production,” Mitchell-Smith said. “Folks on this [project] will have consistent employment and a huge resume builder, never even having to go to California.”
Mitchell-Smith said “Breaking Dawn” will be an “enormous boost” to Baton Rouge’s economy through set building and production work, as well as the stimulus of cast and crew who stay in hotels and eat in local restaurants.
“There is a constant multiplication on the dollars the production is spending in our community,” she said.
As the “Breaking Dawn” production swoops into Baton Rouge, the city also has a chance to promote itself by offering local haunts for members of the production to sink their teeth into.
“There will be so many people temporarily in town, including actors, actresses and crew, who are, in effect, visitors,” Arrigo said.
Mitchell-Smith said Baton Rouge offers film casts and crews ample activities to entertain them during downtime.
“If you spend a couple months working in a market unfamiliar to you, work is a priority, but you want to have some fun,” she said. “One of the benefits of filming in southern Louisiana in general is you can go to LSU football games or you can ride bikes around the LSU lakes, like Patrick Dempsey has been doing.”
Dempsey has been in Baton Rouge for the last several weeks filming “Flypaper,” a comedy about a bank robbery, and has been spotted around the city.
Arrigo said he hopes to develop ways to tie in aspects of Baton Rouge and Louisiana with the presence of “Breaking Dawn” and the HBO series “True Blood,” which filmed in Baton Rouge last summer.
With the current craze of vampire literature and film, Arrigo said area attractions like the 13th Gate haunted house and the Myrtles Plantation could be tied in to those productions.
“There’s a certain following that would come to this area and want to visit to those sites,” he said.