Monday, March 5, 2007

Not so Star Struck

They're calling it Hollywood South. After Katrina, Shreveport started getting a lot of film business that would have otherwise been done down south. And nothing can be more of a challenge than trying to shoot on or near a movie set.

When Sandra Bullock was in town shooting Premonition, the crew was filming at Creswell Elementary where I believe Bullock's character worked as a teacher. I was to go to the school, without permission, mind you, and get a shot of anything I could find. I parked, and within minutes of pulling out a HUGE 600 mmm I had on loan from Nikon, Times photo editor Mike Silva was calling me on the cell phone. He jovially asked what kind of trouble I was stirring up, as he'd heard a description of me come over the police scanner. Obviously they knew I was there. I sat on a route that Bullock and crew were to pass as they had several times before filming a driving scene, but when I saw them approaching my spot, they suddnly turned off of King's Highway down a side street.And of course after that they were done for the day.

On the set of Microwave Park I was all but chased off by Shreveport police. I was "allowed" to shoot, but by the time they were done moving me off to a position far beyond where other spectators were watching from, I couldnt see much of anything. Needless to say, the Shreveport police department got a phone call from Managing Editor Rod Richardson that day. We were invited to return, but of course when we arrived the crew was packing up their gear.

On the set of The Guardian I was asked by a publicist to hide my camera because Kevin Costner was walking our way. And this was a set we were invited to shoot on! Outside of turning my body to the side, I made no other effort to conceal my gear.

Invited to shoot on the set of Harold and Kumar, I was reduced to shooting an empty parking lot full of trailers, some caterers, and a sound guy or something.

I've had only two good experiences with movie and television show sets. The first was with the FX Televsion show, Thief, starring Andra Braugher and Michael Rooker. Braugher simply allowed me to take his photograph while he talked with Times reporter Alexandyr Kent during an interview, but Rooker was cool enough to actually let me snap a portrait. (A funny side story - the window he's standing in front of is part of a set inside a local warehouse...I pulled the curtains open to set up the shot and they just fell down, rod and all. Rooker was cool though, letting me know they pay people to take care of stuff like that. Then, 30 seconds later, I had my shot...normally I'd take a lot longer, but I didnt want to press my luck).
The other good experience was on the set of The Last Lullaby starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander and directed by Jeffrey Goodman. Goodman has been very cool, and everyone on the set was comfortable with me being there. I shot a cool portrait of him when he was considering shooting in Shreveport in 2005, and then he was laid back and accepting on the set.

What I'm getting at is that folks on these productions seem to treat local media as though we're papparazi...we dont want to sneak up on a movie star and photograph them in some precarious position. Although some (like Tom Sizemore doing 3 push ups to psyche himself up for a scene) make it difficult to keep from lifting the camera up. We just want to do ours jobs...get in and get out.

Learn more about the film industry in Northwest Louisiana from Times reporter Alexandyr Kent's blog.


Anonymous 3/05/2007 5:12 PM  

Perhaps your editors should provide better advance notification to the movie makers as to who and why you are going to be at their location. If they then don't provide proper access to photograph the "star" and cast, then you might have to show up unannounced. In the cases were the producers allowed access to themselves and the set, that sounds more typical of what most people in the entertainment world desires - controlled and organized puplicity. Also, did not know that Shreveport was such a mecca for movie making. Sandra Bullock / Kevin Costner? Way to go Shreveport.

Greg Pearson 3/05/2007 6:46 PM  

You can add the coolest man alive...Samuel L. the list, as well as Ashton Kutcher (starring with Costner), the Harold and Kumar guys for you younger folks (sorry, have no idea what their names are), Denzel is currently scouting the area, Guy Pearce, Antonio Banderas, and others.

As far as advance notification goes from editors goes, I visit sets for various reasons, but when we're denied any sort of access, the only alternative is to just show up. But we always get hassled, even when standing next to regular folks, off of the set and on public property.

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