Jamie Ryan, 28, said it was her first time visiting Baton Rouge as she peered over the ledge of the State Capitol building’s observation deck on Friday afternoon, bundled up against the cold wind that whipped her hair around.
She’d flown in from Lubbock, Texas, on Thursday and had been perched on the lookout post for more than four hours with brand-new binoculars pressed to her face.
But Ryan wasn’t interested in the sights of the capital city — her eyes were locked on the enormous green screen erected in Arsenal Park, trying to catch sight of the stars of the “Twilight” movie filming there.
“I’m staying right here,” she said of her spot, where at least five other fans lingered around her. “I am determined to see something.”
“Twilight” mania hit the streets of downtown Baton Rouge this week when the movie’s crew began building a massive green backdrop near the State Capitol building that sent the local rumor mill and online forums into a frenzy.
“Twilight: Breaking Dawn” is the final installment in the blockbuster vampire film series that has 16-year-old girls and 50-year-old men alike lining up at theaters for each movie’s premiere.
Information on what producers were shooting at the location or how long crews will film in front of the green screen was unavailable.
“Twilight: Breaking Dawn” began shooting in Baton Rouge in October at Celtic Media Center. Security at the studio has been tight, much to the chagrin of fans trying to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars.
Security was equally extensive at Friday’s outdoor filming, but people lined the street by a downtown parking lot near Arsenal Park, where a tent marked “hair and makeup” had their cameras flashing.
A crowd of about seven people lingered where the trees, bushes and production vans parted just enough to allow a view into the makeup tent. A catering truck that later pulled right into the group’s line of sight was met with a collective groan. ‘
Cindy Colson, 40, of Columbus, Ga., had driven to Baton Rouge so her son Wesley Moore, 17, could tour LSU. Colson, being a hard-core “Twilight” fan, said arriving in Baton Rouge on one of the only days of outdoor filming was just a happy coincidence.
Colson said her love of the “Twilight” books began two years ago when she fell into a coma after having heart surgery and her daughter read Colson the novels.
“When I finally work up, I asked my daughter, ‘Who’s Edward?’ ” Colson said, referring to one of the main characters of the books.
“The doctors had told my family to make funeral arrangements, but I survived. So going to see the premiere of the first movie with my daughter was very special because I wasn’t supposed to be here,” she said.
The fans that gathered Friday were just a few of the hundreds of people who have become enamored by the film’s production, often flocking to local restaurants or stores if word gets out that a star was spotted there.
Nicole Sloane runs a Facebook group dedicated to tracking “Twilight” celebrity sightings in Baton Rouge and giving fans updates on the production. The group has grown to nearly 10,000 members.
Sloane, of West Baton Rouge, said fans of the “Twilight” saga include men and women of all ages who have come to Baton Rouge from throughout the country, and even two fans from France, in hopes of spotting the film’s stars.
“We went from having five fans the first day to 1,000 the second,” Sloane said. “The feedback from these fans is just amazing. It’s the story, the cast, everything together that just ensnares people.”
While filming will be wrapping up in the coming weeks, those involved with the production say the fans will continue to flock to Baton Rouge.
“We have only scratched the surface on what this production could ultimately mean to the local economy,” said Patrick Mulhearn, director of studio operations at Celtic. “(These) fans are so incredibly passionate, it is likely that 10 years from now they will still be coming to Baton Rouge to see where scenes were filmed and where the cast lived and hung out.”
Sloane said many of the members of her group visited Baton Rouge for the first time during the filming but “completely fell in love” with the city.
“They’ve met other fans and made friendships,” Sloane said. “They always tell me they’re definitely coming back.”