By Tara Bennett
With the prevalence of today’s rising production studios, celebrating 15 years as a studio is no small feat for anyone. Hedges Pictures, a local production company in Baton Rouge, initially started out with company founder Travis Hedges Williams playing in his backyard with a camera. Over the years, Hedges Pictures has risen in stature and is now celebrating 15 years of independent filmmaking with no signs of stopping.
“It’s a little surreal, but it’s definitely exciting,” said Williams. “When we started out in year zero there wasn’t this grand plan to do it for 15 years. Of course it’s certainly grown and changed since then, so it’s very surreal but very exciting.”
Hedges Pictures had very humble beginnings in the year 2000. The first movie shot was Ballet for Children-Unauthorized and was a parody of a theatrical show Williams was involved in at the time.
“I showed it at the cast party, and people seemed to enjoy it for what it was, which was just me in the backyard with a video camera,” said Williams. “And people enjoyed it to the point where they said ‘You should make another one,’ and I did, and then they said ‘Well, you should make another one,’ and I did, so that’s been going on for 15 years.”
According to Williams, the ideas behind their films sometimes come out of the blue or came about from a joke made over a group dinner. Once they settle on a project, it is as simple as scratching things off their production to do list. Over the years, Hedges Pictures has screened at regional film festivals and picked up a dozen awards including the LSU Outhouse Film Festival several times.
They have shot at some very unique locations including courthouses, jails, swamps and the Old State Capitol Building. The studio has also worked with the Baton Rouge Food Bank and the 10/31 Consortium to raise funds and awareness for the organizations. As the years passed, Williams “never rested on his laurels” and grew as a filmmaker by always learning new things or how to improve for next time, even as the technology and delivery methods changed.
“When we started, YouTube and streaming video, it existed certainly, but it wasn’t sort of accepted, you had to have a really good internet connection to do it and no one really did,” said Williams. “For our 10 year anniversary we put all of our movies online. That’s something I’m very proud of that you can see all 26 of our movies online for free. So if someone wants a Hedges Pictures marathon, it’s all there.”
To celebrate their 15th anniversary of creating independent movies, Hedges Pictures will host a Masquerade Gala on Friday, Oct. 16. The evening will include the induction of new members into the Hedges Pictures Hall of Fame and a short preview of upcoming projects. Harker’s DJ Services will close out the ceremonies by opening the dance floor and providing music for guests to enjoy. A cash bar will be available.
The highlights of the event will include a retrospective of early works from the company as well as the world premiere of their new comedic short film The Day of the Hedges. The premise of the film is centered on an evil hipster crashing parties in Baton Rouge and stealing socks for nefarious purposes.
“It’s up to a group of rag-tag group of heroes who have to come together and overcome their differences to take down the evil hipster and save the city,” said Williams.
The film utilizes the idea of taking characters from previous Hedges Pictures productions and having them meet each other for the first time a la The Avengers.
“We didn’t set out in year one to create a cinematic universe, but the movies have always kind of winked at each other,” said Williams.
The Day of the Hedges stars Abigail Tatum, Kurt Hauschild, Tyler Grezaffi, Jeffrey Johnson, Ronald Coats, along with Williams. Jesse Seidule serves as the director of photography, with original music by Allen Calmes, and a soundtrack provided by local band Prom Date. According to Williams, this event is perfect for fans of the company and anyone who may have an interest in being involved.
“Anyone with an interest in independent film or filmmaking is always encouraged to come to our events,” said Williams. “We love meeting new people and collaborating with them…We value networking and community building very highly. We always encourage people to come out to our events and meet us in hopes of working together in the future.”
The Masquerade Gala will be held at Theatre Baton Rouge (7155 Florida Blvd.), starting at 7 p.m. Tickets available at the door for $5. Costumes or formal attire is encouraged, but not required. To view the complete library of Hedges Pictures for free, visit hedgespictures.com.