Business with the big screen

Local vendors plug into the growing film industry

By Lindsey Holland
Published Oct 31, 2013 at 6:00 am (Updated Oct 21, 2013) 

'There are no small parts, only small actors," said Stanislavisky. And that guy would know. He probably also knew details, no matter how minute they might seem, can lend authenticity and character to a movie. Local businesses are playing roles in several big-budget films shot here in the Capital City, and though you won't see their owners' faces, if you know where to look, you can see their work in the details.

Anne Arceneaux and Carmen Cantwell, owners of The Gilded Lily, a jewelry shop located on Lobdell Avenue, got their first taste of Hollywood working with the blockbuster series hit Twilight. To their surprise, a producer showed up at the store one day inquiring about a custom piece for the film.

"We felt a real responsibility to make sure we created something beautiful, something that represented the author's vision and something that we, along with the rest of the community, could be proud of," Arceneaux says.

They did just that, designing a custom bridal comb worn by actress Kristen Stewart, who plays Bella Swan in the series, when she marries Robert Pattinson's Edward Cullen in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1. They also designed a locket seen in the vampire drama's final installment, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2.

Word of mouth was also a key factor in landing Amy Strother, owner of Denicola's Furniture and Upholstery, a project for Pitch Perfect. The musical comedy, featuring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson and photographed on the LSU campus and across several Baton Rouge locations, was a surprise hit last year.

Strother created custom upholstery, props and draperies for the film. While Strother has done a fair amount of work for the film industry on all levels, she understands that simply knowing the right people can land you the job.

"It definitely goes back to knowing people—your contacts," she says.

Dwayne Carruth with Monochrome Furniture and Ben Harrison with Wrapture Graphics would both agree. Carruth says one of his recent endeavors includes renting out furniture for use on the set of the upcoming Hot Tub Time Machine 2. Harrison says Wrapture Graphics worked on Search Party, which finished shooting in May, and 2012's Transit, among others, to provide signage and vehicle graphics for props. All this work happened through referrals.

While glimpses of Strother's designs or Wrapture Graphics' props can probably be seen on-screen, the work of some local businesses has played a part off-screen, too. Stephanie Clark, with Simplify Accommodations, has worked for three movie seasons on more than two dozen films, including Battleship and Oblivion. She's secured housing for all levels, from A-list talent to the large crews. As a new niche for his business, local attorney Bryan Jeansonne is providing film production crews with legal services.

Though nothing can quite beat a personal recommendation, Film Commission Director Liza Kelso says she's working to eliminate any potential gaps between production crews and vendors. Through the By Baton Rouge program, film assistants can search a database containing more than 300 Baton Rouge businesses and easily connect with them to see if they're up for the job. There's even an app. Baton Rouge businesses can sign up for free if interested and list their credentials and assets, noting if they've previously worked with films.

"We launched the program a little over a year ago," Kelso says. "When productions come to town they know exactly what they want, and they tell their assistants to find it. Now they can have vendors at their fingertips."

Kelso says By Baton Rouge was the brainchild of Mayor Kip Holden and is already seeing success—local success she hopes can expand even further as the film industry grows in Baton Rouge.

"We don't have a problem getting the movies, and we don't have a problem with productions using the vendors," Kelso says. "We're just trying to help make those connections."