John Schneider opens studio to bring Louisiana scenes to more screens

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POSTED: Monday, July 7, 2014 - 10:12pm

UPDATED: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 1:10pm

A piece of Hollywood has come to an old campsite in Holden. But it is also a piece of Southeast Asia, a pool party from the 1950's, or anything else you could imagine.

John Schneider turned Camp Singing Waters into John Schneider Studios. He first discovered the property in 2013 while working on his film, "Smothered."

"I started down the road and saw the lake on the left and the swamp on the right, and my movie mind is going, wow, this is perfect for the movie," Schneider recalled, "and if there's a house, oh, there's the house! And if there's a barn, oh, there's a barn!"

The studio sits on 58 acres. The main feature is a house with split personalities. Half of the home has a yellow, well-maintained exterior. The other half is taupe, but appears run down. This is by design.

"The trick when you're filming is to have places not look like the same place," he said. "So I don't want John Schneider movies all to look like they were shot on Highway 190, even though they are."

Schneider is best-known for his role as Bo Duke in "The Dukes of Hazzard," but he also had a long run in the TV show "Smallville," and is currently starring in Tyler Perry's "The Haves and Have Nots."

"The notion of doing the studio came as a result of me working with Tyler on 'The Haves and Have Nots,'" Schneider said. "Because he has a studio outside of Atlanta where it's, he immerses himself in whatever show it is that he's doing, or two shows at a time. We are there, we're inside the gate, and nobody leaves. It's like they lock the door, throw away the key, you work on the show they get the whole done, and then you go home. And it works very, very well for him."

Schneider lives and works in the house, and film crews can do the same, staying in a couple of guest rooms. He believes his writing, and the films that will result, are better because of it. 

"I'll write for the view through that barn," he mentioned. "I'll write for the yellow farm house and the taupe, 1910, end of the dirt road, Louisiana house."

The property has a large lake, several areas of swamp, and access to the Tickfaw River. There is a baseball field, a tree house, and a trailer. There is a 5,000 square foot sound stage, but Schneider said he has plans to build a few more that are slightly larger. His goal is to give more options to local productions that feel squeezed out by the big studios in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, or Shreveport.

"What happens is, they spend all this money, they build this huge thing, and then they've got this huge overhead, and all of a sudden they can't be dealing with the low-budget filmmaker anyway," he said.

The studio does not have the space for large special effects, though a crew could use the sound stage and put a green screen around the large swimming pool to create any number of locations. But the appeal of the property is the differences in the landscape that allow for a variety of sets.

The Louisiana Office of Tourism is, "getting ready to film a commercial, four commercials, actually, that will exhibit all of Louisiana," Schneider said. "The swamps, the beautiful cypress trees, the cypress knees, the Spanish moss, the bamboo, the dirt roads, the barns, and they're shooting all of that, that represents all of Louisiana, right here. And they're going to do it in one day, because they can."

In addition to the multiple locations, John Schneider Studios takes advantage of the burgeoning film industries in south Louisiana, including a partnership with Composite Effects.

"All the equipment you could possibly want is here," Schneider noted. "If you need a huge sound stage, Celtic is right there. Great people there. If you need more cameras and more lights, you can also go through Celtic, or you can go down I-55 and go to New Orleans and get anything that you want and anyone that you want." 

Schneider said he has written 14 scripts that are either geared towards his new property or can be adapted to fit it. He plans to film two of his own movies there each year, while maintaining his acting schedule.

"I'll be making movies forever," he said. "It seems like it's been a long time already, but in many regards, it seems like I'm just getting started."

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John Schneider will be successful because he has the experience of many years as a great actor just like the other great actors who went on to become great producers eg Ron Howard. I would love to be in the film industry, but I need the help of people like John Schneider to help me get started. I know many other people feel the same way. Good luck to everyone who works in films. It is a wonderful world of possibilities where anything is possible. Go for it, and never quit.

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