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Destrehan Plantation used as backdrop for TV thriller

By Jonathan Menard -   Oct 24, 2013

Filmmakers use fog to illuminate the oak trees at Destrehan Plantation for a scene in a ABC Family show called “Ravenswood.”
Filmmakers use fog to illuminate the oak trees at Destrehan Plantation for a scene in a ABC Family show called “Ravenswood.”

Destrehan Plantation will serve as the backdrop for the fifth episode of “Ravenswood,” a television series that will appear on ABC Family.

“Ravenswood” is a spinoff of the popular TV show “Pretty Little Liars.” Tyler Blackburn reprises his role from “Pretty Little Liars” as Caleb Rivers. Nicole Anderson, known for her role in Disney Channel Series “Jonas L.A.,” will also star in the series.

The show focuses on a girl and her family who own and operate a funeral home. It follows five strangers whose lives become intertwined by a deadly curse that has plagued their town for generations.

A majority of the series is being filmed at Quixote Studios in St. Rose. The studio was in the process of completing the construction of two 30,000-square-foot soundstages when they were selected for the production of “Ravenswood.”

Nancy Robert, the executive director of Destrehan Plantation, said production began at the plantation last Tuesday and filming wrapped up on Thursday.

“They are actually using our open-hearth kitchen,” she said. “They are also filming in our avenue of oaks on the side of the property.”

This is the second time in a little more than a year that film production has taken place at the plantation. A Brad Pitt movie, “12 Years a Slave,” filmed last July. The film will be released soon and is already generating Oscar buzz.

That movie is based on a book published in 1853 that tells the true story of Solomon Northup. Northup was a free African American who was kidnapped in New York and sold into slavery in Louisiana. He was eventually freed twelve years later thanks to the help of a Canadian carpenter who didn’t believe in slavery.

The title role is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is best known for his work in “American Gangster” and “Salt,” which starred Angelina Jolie. Michael Fassbender plays Edwin Epps, who owns the cotton plantation.

Robert said the money the plantation earns from hosting film production benefits the non-profit and will be used to help with an expansion planned at the site. She added that movies and TV shows being filmed in the area provide several jobs for Louisiana residents.

“It gives us extra money since we are a non-profit and it’s really nice when we are allowed to stay open for the public, as we have been able to do this time,” she said. “Louisiana is very lucky to have all these movies and TV shows filming here because there are so many jobs created. Just for this one scene in ‘Ravenswood’ there were so many people here. They had people dealing with equipment, catering, makeup, security guards…it’s impressive.”

Because a full-fledged movie studio is now located in St. Rose, Robert is hopeful that the plantation will be used in other films in the future.

“They built sets in the St. Rose studio to match what they are filming here. The movie studio being so close is a great thing,” she said. “We would love to have other films here. They are pleasant people and we are enjoying it.”

“Ravenswood” airs on ABC Family Tuesday nights at 8 p.m.

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