Monday, September 2, 2013

A Brush with Stardom...

Last night, C and I finally got the chance to see the Butler.  Critically acclaimed, it's already garnering Oscar talk but honestly our interest in seeing it began over a year ago.  Some time in mid August 2012, a movie scout came in my shop to inquire who owned the building.  At the time, I had no idea who he was and at this point, being in retail and dealing with the public for a few years, I am initially skeptical of any inquiry.  Once he told me who he was, who he worked for and maybe, just maybe they might be interested in using my building in one of the scenes for the Butler, I was on board.  Then I googled it after he left and saw Forrest Whittaker and Oprah (freakin' Oprah, ya'll) had signed on to this movie, I flipped out. 

I called C immediately and told her we might be in the running for the movie's riot scene.  Probably the first time anyone ever said "Oh my god, our building would be awesome in a riot!!!"  The scout had left it, that if there was an interest, they would be in touch.  We never told anyone in town at all and I suppose it was a good thing because 2 weeks later one of my fellow storekeepers called to say "you are never going to believe this but the front of my store is going to be in a movie!"  Alas, I could believe it...crestfallen, we were sad to miss the opportunity but glad for our friends and the chance to bring some interest into town.

The day of the filming, it rained off and on; the center of town was blocked off due to the filming, keeping a hush over us and really no through traffic made it down my direction.  The church across the street somehow had bargain to be the central location for costumes and I would watch bus loads of extras convoyed away to the center of town.  To be honest, I was bit aggravated at that point.  Every adjacent business to the filming had been compensated.  I was two blocks off and had only one extra browse through the shop.  I definitely had that waiting in the wings feeling - C and I have always thought the shop one day will be recognized nationally in some way - this was not going to be it.

So, last night, a year later - we finally see what that day captured.  The film actually uses Ponchatoula three times; the first few scenes, unfortunately, shows an epic American flag and two African American men hanging -  that is the largest flag in the state of Louisiana and it flies over the center of town, the second scene is when the main character breaks into a hotel and eventually is mentored by another waiter - these are shot outside Berry Corner Cafe and I think around the Feed and Seed warehouse.  The last jump you see to Ponchatoula has been transformed to the riots of Birmingham, Alabama where the main character's son is an active participant.  These are shot outside businesses within the first block of E. Pine - Chocolate Vine is transformed into Robin's Cafe and you can see quick cut away of Trails End Antiques. 

I wish our building, the Old Nehi Building, could of had an active role in the filming and been immortalized on the big screen, but as they say in showbiz, it was an honor to be nominated.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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