‘Get On Up’ features Malt Shop, other businesses
NATCHEZ — Malt Shop owner Gloria Neames was excited when “Get On Up” production officials asked to use the Natchez staple in the movie even if it meant her restaurant would be closed for a week.
“I think it’s going to be wonderful for the Malt Shop and hopefully it’ll be our claim to fame from here on out once the movie comes out,” Neames said. “This has been such a great thing for Natchez, not only my business.”
The Malt Shop will be closed all week as the Natchez landmark is transformed for filming for the James Brown biopic being directed by Mississippian Tate Taylor.
Neames said film officials told her the restaurant will be transformed into another restaurant where a young Little Richard worked.
The transformation, Neames said, will be extensive to account for the time shift in the movie’s timeline.
“They have to make it period appropriate because we have updated equipment over the years and they have to get it back to that certain era,” Neames said. “They’re even going to the level of changing out all the windows because my windows are not period appropriate.
“They’ll take several days to make it right, then they’ll film and then take a few days to turn everything back how it was.”
Neames said movie officials are compensating her for the projected business she is expected to lose from being closed for a week.
“I gave them my receipts from last year and told them this is what it would take to make it happen,”Neames said “I can’t afford to shut down for them to do a movie regardless of what great publicity we’ll have, so we had to make some kind of deal.”
The closure won’t be all negative for Neames and her employees, she said, because the restaurant is open seven days a week.
“It will be nice to have a week off,” Neames said, laughing. “Plus, my sister and I own Belmont Shake Shop together, so we’ve got a message on the phone referring everyone out there.”
Other locations, such as the Natchez-Adams County Airport, didn’t have to shut their doors to welcome movie officials, manager Clint Pomeroy said.
The airport was transformed into Vietnam earlier this month for scenes from the movie where Brown plays a USO show during the war.
An old surplus military hangar the airport purchased in the 1950s served as the background for the scene, Pomeroy said.
“They came by and did some scouting for another aerial scene they were wanting to do, and on the way out they saw the hangar and took a bunch of pictures,” Pomeroy said. “After they did some more scouting, they contacted me and said they wanted to film out here and use the hangar and that they needed the hangar for 10 days.”
The 100-by-160-foot hangar stores 10 private planes, and Pomeroy said he contacted all the plane owners with a proposition.
“We told them we had an opportunity to film a movie here and that we were going to need them to move their aircraft outside for 10 days,” Pomeroy said. “In return, we offered them the entire month of December for free and nobody had a major problem with it.”
Pomeroy said movie officials compensated the airport to rent the hangar for 10 days to make up for the loss of the income.
But Pomeroy said he was pleasantly surprised business was able to continue on Dec. 7 during the USO show scene.
“We had two or three corporate jets land and even a helicopter, because they would stop their filming for a few minutes while the airplanes came in and took off,” Pomeroy said. “They were very accommodating to us, and we didn’t lose any business or inconvenience any customers because of the filming.”
Pomeroy said it was those types of professional courtesies that left him happy with the movie officials’ time in Natchez.
“I can’t say one bad thing about them because they were straightforward with us the whole time, and they were just really nice people to work with,” Pomeroy said. “It was exciting to have them here and it’s given me a new perspective on the movie industry.
“I’m just tickled to death that we at the airport and Natchez were able to help out.”
The “Get On Up” crew has used two city-owned buildings — Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center and Natchez City Auditorium — to shoot scenes for the film.
Natchez Mayor Butch Brown presented a proclamation at Tuesday’s board of aldermen meeting thanking Taylor for bringing the movie to Natchez.
The proclamation, which was accepted by executive producers John Norris and Trish Hofmann, highlighted Taylor’s commitment to the city of Natchez, his desire to give back to the community and the “tremendous” economic boost the city has experienced during filming.
Norris said the film has been a wonderful journey, and he thanked the city for helping make it possible.
“You all opened the door and gave us such great hospitality,” he said.
Norris also movie officials have been pleased to find “great talent” and hard workers in Natchez.
Hofmann said the crew has enjoyed its time in Natchez.
“You have a very unhappy crew that is very unhappy about leaving on Friday,” Hoffman said, laughing. “But I have a feeling we’re all going to be back really soon.”