Filmmakers bring success to Donaldsonville

Allison B. Hudson
Local residents gather for the screening of the film "Anytown" on Friday, Nov. 21.

On Friday, Nov. 21 at the B.C. Alwes Auditorium, more than 100 people gathered to watch the screening of the film "Anytown." Baton Rouge producer George Kostuch produced the film.

Kostuch and co-producer Matt Keith, also of Baton Rouge, came back to Donaldsonville for the screening that was shot earlier this year in Donaldsonville.

Recognizable scenes such as: Donaldsonville Fire Station, Point Houmas House, Ascension Catholic Elementary School, Railroad Ave., and sugar-cane fields were quite familiar to local residents.

Not only did the film include scenes well known to residents, but also included some local actors.

A few were Sue LeBeouf, Peggy Guillot, and Charles Thibaut.

"It was like a family picnic," said Guillot, who played a school secretary in the film.

Although LeBeouf and Guillot's work did not make the final cut, they both enjoyed the experience and took pleasure in seeing their town portrayed in a film.

Thibaut, owner of Point Houmas House said the film was a boost for the local economy. Thibaut's establishment is where most of the film took place.

Thibaut said since the movie was filmed, he has been busy showing Donaldsonville locations to other movie representatives. A film crew, Thibaut said, was shooting at Palo Alto Plantation last week. He said "big-budget" films are coming to the area and he couldn't be more excited.

Shanna Forrestall, owner of Louisiana Film Resources, was excited to hear the enthusiasm from Thibaut.

Forrestall convinced Keith, Kostuch and producer Ron Finberg to film in Donaldsonville. It was the second time Finberg used Donaldsonville as a setting for a production.

Forrestall, a Gonzales native whose company has worked extremely hard to get to this point, said it doesn't stop here. She said she first met Finberg when he was looking to find a site for a music video.

She received help from Richard Zeringue, actor from Donaldsonville; together they were able to convince the producers that the city of Donaldsonville had everything they needed and maybe even more.

Forrestall said that the available hotel rooms and the ubiquitous support were major advantages for the producers.

Forrestall added that incentives are available to bring the film industry to Louisiana; many in the business are unaware of what Donaldsonville and Ascension Parish have to offer.

This is one of Forrestall's many things she is trying to change.

"Our goal is to push Ascension Parish," Forrestall said, adding that several movie location scouts were invited to the premiere.

"This is an exciting time for the business in Louisiana and things are moving in the right direction," she said. "We have great things to offer and we just have to get them to our area."

Kristen Batulis with the Ascension Economic Development Corp. said that for every dollar spent on a movie set, $1.85 is returned to the local economy.

Technical difficulties with the equipment delayed the start of the screening and prevented the last four minutes of the film from being aired. Despite difficulties, Forrestall described the screening a "success."

Forrestall, the Donaldsonville Downtown Development District and Ascension Economic Development Corp hosted the premiere.

The movie was written by Dave Rodrigue and Zak Meyers and directed by Rodriguez.

Forrestall wanted to have the premiere in Donaldsonville and couldn't thank the community enough for "all its done for us."

Local resident, Grace Garon, checks in before the screening of "Anytown," which was filmed in Donaldsonville.