James Brown Movie Set For City Streets

The streets of downtown Natchez will be transformed into 1942 Georgia and 1965 Cincinnati on Wednesday with a little movie magic.

Crews in town filming the James Brown biopic, “Get On Up,” have set up shop around Natchez chronicling the life of the “Godfather of Soul.”

This past week, movie officials used the grounds at the white-columned antebellum home Dunleith, and a slew of local residents cast as extras, to replicate a country club in Georgia.

The scene, which was filmed Last Wednesday and Thursday, was one of the biggest so far in the filming process, executive producer Trish Hoffman said.

“Anytime you have that many extras, lights, on-camera music and those kinds of things, it’s a very important scene,” she said. “It was one of the bigger scenes for us, and everything went terrific.”

Other locations used so far in the movie, Hoffman said, included Don’s Barber Shop at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and St. Catherine Street on Thursday and the Adams County jails on Friday – the historic county jail, which is now the supervisor’s offices, and the current jail, operated by the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.

The older jail, Hoffman said, was used to depict Georgia in 1949 and the new jail was also in Georgia, but recreated the year 1988.

“What we do every day is screen the footage from the day before, so we can keep up to speed with what we’re getting, and everyone is very pleased,” Hoffman said. “So far, we’re in good shape, on schedule and we’re liking everything we’re seeing.”

Movie officials will transform portions of downtown Wednesday afternoon on Franklin Street, between Pearl and Union streets, and on Commerce Street, between Jefferson and Main streets.

“This is going to be one of the bigger transformations for the movie,” Hoffman said. “We’re going to go through time Wednesday, starting in 1942 and ending in 1965.”

Hoffman said the scenes depicting 1942 will require movie officials to put dirt on the streets and bring in additional actors to the set.

“There will be chickens, goats and all sorts of animals running around,” she said. “And for the 1965 scene, we’ll have a lot of picture cars from those years on the streets.

“What’s great about downtown Natchez is you have so many historical buildings that work for a variety of scenes we’re doing.”

The areas where movie officials will be filming Wednesday will be blocked off to public access, and traffic will be rerouted around the areas throughout the afternoon.

“We appreciate how great the town has been so far with being flexible and accommodating throughout the process,” Hoffman said. “We’ll have signs up letting everyone know where the traffic is being redirected.”

According to the “Get On Up” Casting Facebook page, the movie is still looking for extras for various scenes. Upcoming filming will include a two-day car chase scene with extras playing police officers and highway patrolmen and a 1988 insurance seminar scene that will be prominently featured in the movie.

Crews will continue filming in Natchez through Dec. 20 before taking a break for the holidays and picking back up from Jan. 6 through 24 in Jackson.

Photo: Mark Duncan, File/AP
Performing during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans.

The film, which is being directed by Tate Taylor, who also directed the Academy Award-nominated film “The Help,” will depict Brown’s life from when he was nearly 5 years old in 1938 until he was about 60 in 1993.