The Beguiled movie used Louisiana filming incentive
Sofia Coppola’s adaptation of American Civil War tale The Beguiled filmed Louisiana as 1860s-era Virginia over just 22 days.
The story stars Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell, and follows events triggered at a girls’ school when a wounded Unionist soldier is found in the grounds and taken in to be treated.
Louisiana is one of the more popular filming locations in the US as it offers producers generous incentive support. In the case of the relatively low-budget The Beguiled, it also suited Coppola’s needs as it offered historic architecture suitable for the period details of the story.
“The deeper in the south you go, the more old plantations you find because at the end of the war many properties were burned as the armies marched south,” says Batou Chandler, the film’s location manager, in comments to KFTV.
“The war was over before they made their way this far down so many houses were spared the torch. Thus they are closer to their original structure and less likely to be heavily renovated.
“It was important to find a house that was not over-improved or modernised and luckily Louisiana has a good collection.”
Madewood Plantation House, dating back to the mid-19th century, was already a popular Louisiana filming location two hours outside New Orleans. This became the girls’ school for The Beguiled, as did a separate residence designed by the same architect that was used for some interior scenes where a greater degree of production design was needed.
One challenge became how to make those design changes. Both houses were protected by the National Historic Registry so modern features had to be removed in a way that was easily reversible.
“The seasons worked against us a bit even here in the tropics,” Chandler tells KFTV. “We wanted everything overgrown and wild-looking but by a certain time of year grass stops growing.
“That [was a challenge], and just the extremely delicate nature of the historic properties we were shooting in with candles and lanterns.”
Louisiana’s film and TV industry has faced challenges over the past year or so with a perception problem related to its fluctuating incentive support.
“There has been a strong bipartisan effort led by governor [John] Edwards to stabilise the incentives,” Chandler says.
“As a location scout and manager, I am in a unique position to see just how layered the benefits of filming can be to a community.
“States that are able to successfully explain the true benefits of incentives tend to keep them.”
Louisiana remains one of the top US locations for high-profile feature production.
Just last month, Starlight Studios opened as a new filming facility in New Orleans, boosting Louisiana’s production infrastructure.
Images: Ben Rothstein/Focus Features