The Garden Club
Deceit, Lies & Southern Hospitality
Press Release 11-20-07: Movie Completes Pre-Production in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Movies usually generate a lot of buzz from start to finish, but The Garden Club
isn't your usual movie, and if its filming was done with a whisper instead a roar,
it was totally pre-planned. "We started rehearsals back in February of 2007,"producer Payne Williams relates in a press release, "then pre-production on locationin early August and we wrapped just before Thanksgiving. It wasn't as simple as it sounds, but it went quite well, and part of the reason for that was the lack of the normal hoop-la that goes with making a movie. We just went about our business and let the town of Natchitoches go about its normal routine. That's what we wanted as the background of the story."
Based on the novel written by Robert DeBlieux, The Garden Club is set in a Southern
antebellum river town, rich in tradition and alive with local character, and, Williams continues, "Everything was here, the Southern beauty an audience expects, the flowers, the horse carriages, even the accents were perfect. Plus the city government was a great help, the tourist bureau and the local chamber came to our rescue when we needed extras on short notice and I can't say enough about the Natchitoches Historic Foundation. If it were not for that group we wouldn't have gotten the locations for the sets. Those houses are absolutely beautiful and they are a large part of the movie."
It seems the locals were as equally impressed with the moviemakers. Book Merchant
J. Michael Kenny, whose shop was a location, comments, " They came in a few times and took some measurements and never bothered anyone. Then the day they shot here, they said that if any of the customers wanted to watch, they could stand in the back if they were quiet. Then they did three, maybe four takes and they were gone. One thing I noticed was how down to earth the actors were. They were just like real people."
Casting was done by Payne Williams, who is also a member,
"I literally picked the talent that was around me wherever I went. I found my cast at parties, in restaurants, even if I ran into them on the street. In fact, I was probably on the verge of being intentionally avoided by the time I filled the last slot. Then the trick was scheduling everyone when they were available."
Jaque Horton, who was last on a set in Natchitoches for Steel Magnolias as
Dolly Parton's double, seemed to enjoy working there again. "I love Natchitoches.
There's just something about this place,plus it's the first time I got to work on a project with my daughter. We weren't in scenes together because my character was in a different time line, but it'll be nice to see both our names in the credits."
Her daughter, Mary Catherine Ackel plays one side of a lover's triangle,
entangled with Bridget Williams and Dustin Hayes, who wasn't as enthusiastic
about working in a small town, as he joked one day on the set, " Come on, I mean the whole time we've shot here,there's only been one paparazzi, a tall guy in a ball cap.
Is it even paparazzi if there's only one?"
So it comes back to making a movie without much ado.
"We wanted to save the impact for the big screen." Williams concludes,
" Nothing is accomplished by turning everything upside down.
If you want to film the real thing, you have to leave it real."
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