AMITE--2 Guns star Denzel Washington choppered into Amite Friday, July 13 for some early filming on the action movie.
Filmmakers called the Amite Police Department to ask where they could land a helicopter.
The answer: Hood Memorial Hospital helipad, according to Rodney Varnado of the Amite Police Department.
It was a short ride for Washington and his entourage to the auction barn on US 51 in south Amite.
Filming cranks up Monday, July 23 through Monday, July 30, according to Mark Welch. "Weather permitting."
Location coordinator Welch has been walking the streets this week to advise business owners, resident and Amite city leaders what to expect. [His advice is below.]
What about traffic?
"If we're ever doing anything on the streets, the Amite Police Department will hold up traffic for a short time," said Welch. "We'll shoot the action and things will resume as quickly as possible."
What about trains?
2 Guns filmmakers may be able to stop vehicle traffic but they can't stop the dozen-plus trains roaring through Amite each day. Welch pauses for a passing train before finishing his answer. "Their schedules aren't public," he says. Just like where the actors are staying. "We'll work around them." Filmmaking will pause for a bit as two Amtrak passenger trains and 10+ CN Rail freight trains come through the film set throughout the day. Welch gave up trying to log when trains come through. Most are unpredictable.
How many 2 Guns staff and contractors are here?
About 150 to 175, says Welch. "They'll be staying at the two hotels in town as well as in Hammond." And the stars? A closely guarded secret. Denzel Washington arrived by helicopter last Friday.
Who are the stars?
Gonzales native and New Orleans actor/radio personality Spud McConnell may join Edward James Olmos. They are the latest stars talked about for the 2 Guns filming in Amite in late July. And actor James Marsden has signed to play a naval commander who is star Mark Wahlberg's boss.
McConnell and Olmos may join Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton and Bill Paxton for the estimated $80 million Universal action thriller set to shoot in Amite.
You've seen Olmos on Miami Vice and Battlestar Gallactica. Trade journal Variety reports that Olmos is negotiating to play the villain in 2 Guns. He's to be called Papi Greco, a Mexican drug lord. Olmos can play the bad guys well. He was a serial killer in Dexter on Showtime cable channel.
Olmos was recently in The Green Hornet and also starred in Filly Brown, a film that his son Michael Olmos co-directed. Actor Paula Patton may catch Denzel Washington in a romance.
What about a meet-and-greet with the stars and actors?
It's the most asked question for Amite Chamber Ashley Adamson. The answer: probably not.
What's the plot?
The movie is built around a graphic novel written by Steven Grant. Mark Wahlberg plays a Navy SEAL, part of the US military's most enduring and secretive teams. Denzel Washington plays a DEA agent. Both are undercover and investigate each other--and as you may guess--neither character knows that the other has a cover.
Both characters put the clues together and figure that the mob--Mexican drug lord?--is playing them. Wahlberg and Washington think they have been stealing money from the mob, which has tricked the pair into stealing $81 million from the CIA.
"The mismatched pair must eventually learn to trust each other and work together to dig to the truth of the matter and survive," says Variety.
Q: How many folks are involved with a film like 2 Guns?
A: Hard to say. The budget is around $80 million overall. Movies range from 50 to 150--sometimes hundreds, says Emily McKneely. She's the go-to person for filmmakers as director of sales at Tangipahoa Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau in Hammond. Location coordinator Mark Welch estimates 150 to 175 people next week in Amite.
Q: Where do the support crew, electricians, carpenters and others come from?
A: Some are local, according to Jeremy Adamson. "When you see a grip, a location manager, an electrician, they look familiar," says McKneely. "Most of the crew are out of Baton Rouge and New Orleans," she says. The strategic location of Amite makes this area easy to get to for directors, actors, grips and the many sub-contractors and support.
Adamson said a few of the crew are based in Shreveport, which has an emerging studio and creative industry of its own. They stay local and head home to Shreveport on the weekends.
Q: So where are 175+ movie people going to eat in Amite each day?
A: Two sites are being set up for catered meals, probably breakfast and lunch. After shooting in the evening, "they'll be eating in Amite restaurants locally," says location coordinator Welch.
Q: So how do you recognize a member of the 2 Guns team?
A: They look like anybody. "They go to the grocery. They go to the hardware store for a bucket of nails. They pick up a bucket of paint. It's great having this money coming in. And yet it is difficult to track," says McKneely.
Q: So 2 Guns contractors are buying locally?
A: Yes. Craig Tassin at Ace Hardware reports that contractors have come into his store for nails, paint and other must-have elements of the movie set.
Q: So how do you measure the economic impact?
A: "There's no formula," says McKneely. "A one-day shoot is not nearly the impact of a 10-day shoot."
Q: How do you get a big break?
A: "It's one of those businesses where you start at the bottom and work your way up," she says. The bottom: An extra may get $100 a day, according to Amite Chamber president Jeremy Adamson.
An Amite police officer working security may get $50/hour, according to Chief Jerry Trabona.
2 Guns answers for Amite residents and business owners
Here is what location coordinator Mark Welch of New Orleans is telling Amite business owners and residents:
Dear Amite City area residents and business owners:
We are currently filming the motion picture 2 Guns, starring Denzel Washington & Mark Wahlberg in South Louisiana.
We will be filming in your neighborhood from Monday July 23rd thru Monday July 30th, however we will be taking the weekends off.
We will be moving trucks & equipment into the area on Sunday July 22nd. All driveways & handicap zones will be respected.
On certain days, we will have to cone off some parking spaces on certain streets to clear for picture. We will talk to each business in advance to be sure to leave a certain amount of parking spaces for customers in a safe area. These days will vary, and we will give as much of a heads up as possible. We will have Amite City PD on hand as well as security during each day of our filming.
The approximate hours of filming daily will be from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., but times will vary slightly. We will have simulated gunfire and pyrotechnics for certain scenes on days of filming.
Amite City Police Department will be on hand to call it into the precinct & media outlets will be informed in advance to avoid any concerned neighbors.
Please contact us as soon as possible with any special needs regarding parking or otherwise so that we might come up with some creative solutions to address said concerns. Please assist us around the streets of your neighborhood when departing or returning, to help alleviate traffic congestion and maintain a safe work environment for yourself and our crew. If you have any loud maintenance or large deliveries scheduled for the days in question please let us know in advance if you do not mind. This is the first of several informal flyers to inform local residents and business owners of our schedule.
Once we have more info available, we will be sure to pass it along to you.
Below are the streets that will be affected variously by No Parking spaces.
-- SW Central Avenue between Chestnut Street and E Oak Street
-- NW Central Avenue between E Oak Street and E Mulberry Street
-- E Oak Street between railroad tracks and Laurel Street
-- W Oak Street between Central Avenue and 1st Street
-- SW Central Avenue between W Oak Street and W Chestnut Street
We so appreciate you allowing us to film in your beautiful city.
We endeavor to make this as pleasant an experience as possible for the neighborhood as the key to continuing Louisiana’s role as a premiere filming destination is community
involvement & support.
We thank you so much for your hospitality & patience. Do not hesitate to contact us at any time.
Sincerely, Batou Chandler Location Manager 504.521.6223 (office)
Mark Welch Location Coordinator
2Guns 935 Gravier St. 7th fl NOLA, 70112
Tuesday July 17, 2012
Where 2 Guns will be shooting in Amite
A 2 Guns location features a fake diner they are building onto the north and east sides of Weldon Russell’s blue building. It’s part of the movie 2 Guns with Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Spud McConnell--and maybe a couple of your neighbors as extras.
There's a fake kitchen, storage area, and dining room complete with a tempered window that will have real smoke coming out of it. The movie set, an add-on to the Weldon Russell Real Estate office, will include booths chairs tables, and take-out window. Jeremy Adamson thinks the diner will be taken down as they leave.
The film is shooting:
--at the Amite Police Station.
--at the Amite Chamber of Commerce, the old First Guaranty Bank building. There a walk-in safe will "explode," according to Chamber manager Ashley Adamson.
--across the street, Realtor Weldon Russell is watching with amazement as his classic "blue house" is tripled in size by carpenters. It is to become a diner that may be engulfed in flames. Russell couldn't be happier. He has a 10-week lease for the shoot, which is expect to take two weeks.
--at the auction barn on US 51 in south Amite.
--2 Guns is also shooting in New Mexico.
Filmmakers must have at least one officer on the set at all times, according to Emily McKneely.
"I think it's the old buildings, the old jail," says Chief Trabona. "We have such a pretty town."
"Wide streets. Beautiful country roads. Old brick downtown buildings. Attractive incentives. Great location close to airports like New Orleans and Baton Rouge," says McKneely.