What’s next for Natchez and ‘Get On Up’?
Published 12:01 am Friday, December 27, 2013
NATCHEZ — Even though filming for the Natchez portions of the James Brown biopic “Get on Up” has ended, city officials said they are looking for ways to extend the city’s association with the movie.
The Tate Taylor-helmed project will continue filming in Jackson next month, and the movie is set for release Aug. 1, 2014. With A-list actors and a director whose past films have garnered Oscar nominations, the film has inspired hopes Natchez will garner continued film and tourism interest.
Tourism Director Connie Taunton said the city, tourism office and movie production officials have had several meetings about developing a “Get on Up”-themed tour.
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“After ‘The Help’ was filmed there, Greenwood did a fold-up brochure that told of all the different locations where the film was shot for a driving tour,” Taunton said. “We are looking at doing some type of app or a CD like we do with the cemetery tour, where you can come to the Visitor’s Center and rent a CD.”
Taunton said the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau would be contacting other destination cities where movies have been filmed to discuss the things they do.
“Because of the fact we have had some key Hollywood figures here on this film and it was so close to ‘The Help,’ we feel like we will be able to put together something really great,” Taunton said.
“We asked if there was any memorabilia or anything like that we could have. Right now everything has to go back to the studio locked up until everything is complete on the movie in case they have to re-shoot.”
What exactly will ultimately be done can’t be discussed now because of confidentiality agreements with the movie studios, Taunton said, but that isn’t stopping the CVB from getting geared up and determining what will go on the tour.
Beyond the immediate efforts to draw in tourists after the film is released, Natchez Mayor Butch Brown said his first priority is to establish a film commission tasked specifically with recruiting Hollywood to Natchez.
It won’t be the city’s first film commission, but Brown said he aims for it to start strong.
“When I was mayor before, we spent a lot of time hustling movies and did trips to the west coast, and in the 1980s Tony Bryne took a very proactive approach in trying to lure producers into Natchez, and did a very admirable job at that time,” Brown said.
“The real challenge for us, if we are going to do this as a commission and do it right, we have to find a way to pay a good director for that. It would be just like paying for an economic development director. If we are going to take this industry and make it an important part of our community, it will have to have somebody to administer it.”
The other thing that will have to happen, Brown said, is for the city to make a deliberate effort to capitalize on the enthusiasm that has come out of the filming.
“One of the things that was most surprising to me is that the producers and location supervisors were all unanimous in saying they could make any kind of movie in any subject matter in the city of Natchez,” he said.
“They told us they have never been in a location situation where a community was as friendly to the work they were doing as Natchez.”
And the key to the future of movie industry growth in Natchez is not letting that enthusiasm fade, Brown said.
“With the technology out there now, movie making is not as difficult as far as terms of physical locations and physical sizes is concerned, because things can be scaled down within the terms of technology that exists, so we always need to have something better to sell,” he said.