Millennium’s latest feature film shoots in Shreveport
Of the numerous production projects shooting in Shreveport-Bossier so far this year, Millennium/Nu Image’s Olympus Has Fallen is undeniably the largest. And not just in regards to budget or buzz—but also in terms of the scope of the production.
Crew prepped for 10 weeks prior to shooting, building several indoor and outdoor sets to stand in for the White House and Washington, DC. The White House façade was constructed in Bossier City at Arthur Ray Teague Parkway near the CenturyLink Center, while the Oval Office was replicated at StageWorks. Sets have also been built on both of Millennium Studios’ soundstages.
“It’s a challenge to double Washington, DC, because it’s so unique,” said Diego Martinez, president of Millennium Studios in Shreveport. “There is just so much build and so much construction, and it all has to be perfect.”
In fact, there was so much construction work that nearly half of the film’s 170-plus crew base was on the construction team, according to Martinez.
Olympus, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart, is a thriller that has been described as “Die Hard in the White House.” Butler stars as a former secret service agent working to prevent a terrorist attack in DC, while Eckhart plays the president whom Butler must save after he is kidnapped by said terrorists. Ashley Judd, Robert Forster, Angela Bassett and Melissa Leo are also featured in this star-studded cast.
The project originally came out of Millennium Films’ main office in L.A., where executives thought it would be a good fit for the Shreveport studio.
“They thought Shreveport was a good place to shoot it, so we scouted, and we were able to find what we needed here,” said Martinez. “For everything we couldn’t find or physically build, we’ll create with visual effects. One of our companies is Worldwide FX, housed here on property, so we’ll do all the visual effects in-house.”
The 53,000-square-foot Millennium Studios, owned by parent company Nu Image, has been open just over a year in Shreveport, and Olympus is already their fifth project—and their biggest film to date.
“This is our largest project, period,” said Martinez. “Expendables and Expendables 2 and Conan were our largest, and this may be a little bigger in terms of the scope of the project and the budget. This is definitely on that same level, and probably a little bit more.”
Martinez, who is from New Orleans, said Millennium enjoys working in Shreveport, and credits the local government and film office with helping to grow the local industry.
“There are great people working here, but it’s the outlying support that’s phenomenal—from the city to the people,” he said. “It’s just a good place to work, I think, and we definitely feel like we’re a partnership with the city and film office here.”
In fact, Millennium has been so happy in Shreveport that they’re planning on investing more money into expanding their studio.
“On the facility we have now, we spent $12 million, and we’re in the planning stages to expand,” said Martinez. “We hope to start that soon. We have a prop set dressing warehouse we need to have on site, we need more offices, and we’re exploring a bigger stage. We also want to house outside vendors, so we need more space for that.”
With Millennium bringing more and more productions to the Shreveport-Bossier area, including at least one more this summer, the expansion may be needed sooner rather than later. But for now, Millennium is satisfied with the progress the studio—and the local industry—has made.
“Shreveport doesn’t have the lure that New Orleans has, but we’ve had great success here and that’s why we chose to be here,” said Martinez. “We all agree that this is a city on the move. It’s been wonderful that we’re a part of that. We are just extremely happy to be here.”
Olympus Has Fallen began shooting the second week of July, and plans to wrap in mid-September. The film is set for release in 2014.