Local theaters, lots of young Louisiana talent and LSU’s historic Huey P. Long Fieldhouse Pool made Baton Rouge the perfect location for Pitch Perfect.
A musical comedy set in the world of competitive a cappella college groups, Pitch Perfect opens in select cities Friday, Sept. 28, including Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Scenes in the film were shot at LSU, Southern University and Baton Rouge Community College. The LSU campus gets a co-starring role, playing the part of the fictional Barden University.
“We scouted several towns and cities in Louisiana, but Baton Rouge had a surprising number of beautiful theaters,” Pitch Perfect director Jason Moore said this week from Los Angeles. “That was the main reason I made the decision to go to Baton Rouge.”
Another big draw was the Huey P. Long Pool. Barden University’s rival a cappella groups meet in the waterless space for their informal singing battles. The pool house’s lively acoustics make it a great place to sing.
“It was the perfect location because the script always had a big empty pool,” Moore said.
Built in 1932 and closed for a decade, the pool’s state of disrepair made it even more appealing to the filmmakers.
“It’s a little broken down but it has beautiful green tile and this big coliseum-thing surrounding it,” Moore explained. “That location really helped make the scenes feel cool and gritty and big. I was very thankful for that.”
Members of Tulane University’s two a cappella groups, Green Envy and Them, portray singers in Barden University’s all-female Bellas and all-male Treblemakers.
“We stole people from authentic a cappella groups to play in our fictional a cappella groups,” Moore said. “All of those music resources in New Orleans and around Baton Rouge were very necessary to make the movie.”
A native of Fayetteville, Ark., Moore works primarily in New York and Los Angeles. He knew what a musical city New Orleans is before the three-month Pitch Perfect shoot but was surprised that the Baton Rouge area has much musical talent.
“There are also recording studios in New Orleans and then, discovering that kind of thing in and around Baton Rouge, it was another resource we could use,” he said.
Pitch Perfect is Moore’s debut as a film director. The 42-year-old previously directed Broadway’s Shrek the Musical, the Carnegie Hall-staged Jerry Springer: The Opera, a number of off-Broadway productions and the especially successful Avenue Q, which received three Tony awards and a Tony nomination for Moore.
Moore’s stage musical experience and his TV directing for Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, Everwood and Brothers & Sisters made him the natural pick to helm Pitch Perfect.
“From the Dawson’s Creek days to the Broadway stuff, this movie kind of fuses all of those. And the TV that I had done prepared me for the technique of movie making.”
Moore also saw eye-to-eye with Elizabeth Banks, the actress who co-produced Pitch Perfect with her husband, Max Handelman, and co-stars in the film as a bawdy-mouthed judge of singing competitions.
“We had Kristen Wiig in mind for that part,” the director remembered. “So we were in our casting session going, ‘We need a well-known comedic actress who people like.’ I just thought, ‘Wait a second. She’s sitting right here.’ ”