Your viewer’s guide to filming projects underway in St. John Parish

Published 12:13 am Wednesday, March 14, 2018

GARYVILLE — Carl Monica watched last week as film production crews pulled up to the proposed site for the Garyville Timber Museum and set up walls and exhibits, painting the scene as a mural of social issues in African American history.

St. John the Baptist Parish residents might recognize the location in the upcoming film, “Tales from the Hood 2: Bedtime Stories,” a sequel to the 1995 cult classic horror anthology.

Old cars and period costumes are seen in Garyville during filming of “Highwaymen.”

It’s one of five productions currently filming or scouting in St. John the Baptist Parish, a list that also includes Netflix original “Highwaymen,” season 3 of AMC’s “Preacher,” season 3 of OWN series “Queen Sugar” and Paramount horror film “Eli.”

Monica, a Garyville native, is excited to see familiar locations utilized in Tales from the Hood 2 and Highwaymen. With three nearby plantations, a rustic railroad and a colorful timber industry history, he said the little town along the river has a lot to offer the film industry.

“Garyville is great because it’s compact and has a bunch of nice little buildings practically built for Hollywood,” Monica said. “We think there’s a lot of potential for tourism. We get passed up a lot, but we’re going to show people that we’re here.”

RJ Ory of LaPlace said the Tales from the Hood crew spent three days filming at his neighbor’s home earlier this month. One scene was shot in his own home and involved crews gathering upstairs to aim cameras into a bedroom.

In February, Ory told L’OBSERVATEUR a scout came to his house to inquire about using an old bank/pool hall he owns in Garyville for an exterior shot. Recently, he’s come in contact with a location scout setting the scene for AMC’s Preacher.

Previous seasons of Preacher were also filmed locally, according to St. John Parish film coordinator Jo Banner.

With Highwaymen and Tales from the Hood 2 shooting in Garyville and Queen Sugar and Eli utilizing the West Bank’s agricultural landscapes, Banner said the local film industry has seen a major spike.

“In 2016, we had about three or four filming at once,” Banner said.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had as much as we do now, with four or five filming at the same time and crisscrossing locations.”

Banner said the increase is due, in part, to a tax incentive improvement completed last year to show industry leaders St. John Parish welcomes business.

While formulating the tax incentive, Banner said she and staff were focused not on the glitz and glamor of Hollywood but rather what film opportunities would mean to blue collar workers and the mom and pop businesses they represent.

The film industry’s presence is felt financially, according to Banner, since crews utilize local restaurants, fuel and locations. Revenue totals are being calculated, Banner said.

Highwaymen, starring Woody Harrelson and Kevin Costner and slated for a 2018 release, is using the St. John the Baptist Parish Community Center’s soundstage.

The Netflix original film documents the true story of retired Texas Ranger Frank Hamer and ex-partner Maney Gault as they embark on an adventure in a last ditch effort to track down Bonnie and Clyde.

Oprah Winfrey Network drama Queen Sugar chronicles the lives of estranged siblings, played by Rutina Wesley from True Blood and Dawn-Lyen Gardener from Unforgettable.

The series is filming primarily in Edgard. According to a St. John Parish press release, expenditures from previous seasons of Queen Sugar included $20.95 million in Louisiana resident payroll.

Little information is available about Tales From the Hood 2 at this time. Director Rusty Cundieff revealed in January that he was scouting locations in greater New Orleans, and Banner said the film is shooting in Garyville, Reserve and LaPlace.

AMC’s Preacher, also filming in Edgard and Wallace, is an adaptation of a comic book series published by DC Comic’s Vertigo imprint. Season 3 is expected to debut this year.

Meanwhile, upcoming horror film Eli is filming on the West Bank for a 2019 release. Starring Charlie Shotwell from Captain Fantastic, Eli tells the story of an 11-year-old boy who moves to a “clean house” to treat his autoimmune disorder and finds it isn’t as safe as he thought.