What do Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Dempsey, and Ashley Judd all have in common? They’ve each filmed a move here in Baton Rouge, within the last year. After years of playing catch up to the larger film cities in Louisiana, Baton Rouge is getting its big break.
The movie magic all starts at Celtic Studios in the heart of the Capital City. Built just four years ago, it’s put BR on the map.
Patrick Mulhearn never thought he’d be living out his dream. “There are days when I have to pinch myself when I come through the gates here,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like something you would see in Baton Rouge. I’d never guess that we have this.”
A state-of-the-art media center had quickly changed that perception. “You name it. Baton Rouge is about to have it all,” Mulhearn said.
The journey to the silver screen wasn’t easy. Before the center was built, Baton Rouge rolled out the red carpet for several big budget films, including Dukes of Hazard and All the Kings Men, but Hurricane Katrina sent the Red Stick on an unexpected hiatus. Katrina victims moved to the Capital City, making it hard to get around the city, let alone film there.
Four years later business was still slow. It took until fall 2009 to attract a production of real size. That movie was Battle: Los Angeles. Since then, the studio has seen plenty of action. Right now, Celtic is playing host to the set of “Big Valley,” a movie based on a TV show from the 60s. A whole western town will spring up on the lot by the end of the summer.
The 23-acre studio has everything a filmmaker needs to produce a movie from start to finish. With eight soundstages, thousands of square feet of office space, and digital mixing studio for sound effects, Celtic is equipped for the long haul.
In fact, it’s the ability to finish a movie here in Louisiana that brought Jerry Gilbert to the Capital City. He worked in the film industry for eight years in Los Angeles before bringing his family to the Bayou State. Celtic was the main reason for his decision. “There are very few studios like this anywhere.”