Shreveport may be the newly proclaimed Hollywood of the south but Ruston has gotten its own little slice of Hollywood as well.
Thanks to the 24th Annual Louisiana Peach Festival Rodeo, Ruston was selected as one of the filming locations for Sense and Sensibility Ventures Production Company’s newest film “Dakota’s Summer.”
A cast and crew of 60 people arrived in Ruston on Friday June 21, where they set up at the Northern Louisiana Exposition Hall to shoot scenes for the upcoming film.
They are only shooting in this location for two days and will be heading to Keatchie to finish up the remainder of the film.
Tara Talley-Brown, a location manager for the film, said Ruston beat out two other Louisianan rodeos in Winnsboro and Thibodeaux.
“We really wanted to get an authentic rodeo feel for the film,” Talley-Brown said. “We weren’t only looking for a rodeo, we wanted a place with people who were easy to work with. Merril O’Neal and the good people of the Expo Hall were exactly what we were looking for.”
Merril O’Neal and her family have been putting on the Peach Festival Rodeo for the last 24 years and they are flattered that it was chosen as the filming site.
“We were honored to have our rodeo selected as the location for the film,” O’Neal said. “Working with the cast and crew has all been a wonderful experience. This type of recognition lets us know that all of our hard work and perseverance in maintaining the rodeo over the years is finally paying off. With this type of exposure, we are sure to get some very positive publicity.”
Directed and written by Timothy Armstrong, “Dakota’s Summer” tells the story of Dakota Rose’s personal journey navigating life and the rodeo circuit after she receives surprising news about her birth almost 18 years ago.
“The idea came to me after me and my daughters saw a trick riding show in Los Angeles,” Amstrong said. “We all really enjoyed the show. I thought to myself ‘Hey that would be a great idea to build a movie around.’ So that’s were I got the idea from the first movie”
“Dakota’s Summer” is a sequel to Armstrong’s first full length independent film “Cowboys and Angels.” The backdrop is small town horse country, where families congregate on weekends to watch competitive rodeo events including bronco riding, barrel racing, mutton busting and female trick riding.
The film stars several familiar faces such as Haley Ramm from “Into The Wild” and “X Men: Last Stand,” who plays Dakota Rose; 2013 Tony award winning actor Keith Carradine as Dakota’s grandfather and award-winning actor Glenn Turman, most famously known for his role on “A Different World” as Colonel Taylor.
The movie also stars Emily Rickards as Dakota’s older sister and Spencer Boldman from “21 Jump Street” and the Disney series “Lab Rats” as Dakota’s love interest.
Ruston is just one of the Louisiana locations where the movie is being filmed. Other locations include Keatchie, Belcher, Keithville and Shreveport.
Boldman, a southern native, said he is enjoying his short time in Ruston.
“I’m from Dallas so I know all about this heat,” Boldman said. “It is more humid here than what I’m use to but the crew and people here at the festival are doing a very good job at making sure we have what we need.”
“Dakota’s Summer” is a family feature film set in the rodeo world of female trick riding. “The Sky High Angels” professional female trick riding group provides all the rodeo style showcases for the film as well as stunt doubles for horseback scenes.
Ben Feingold, the film’s producer, is glad to be making a movie that the entire family can enjoy.
“The last movie I worked on was called ‘Bad Ass,’” Feingold said. “I was drawn to this film because it is so family friendly. I seldom get to make movies that my whole family can enjoy.”
“Dakota’s Summer” is set to hit the silver screen in April 2014.
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