Pacing through a misty living room in a house on Esplanade Avenue, Southern crime matriarch King George is steaming mad.
The menagerie of taxidermy in the room around her ― bear, cougar and wild boar heads on the walls, a fox perched on the mantel, a squirrel standing on a small table ― reinforces the obvious. King George is a predator.
The scene happens in the locally produced independent action-adventure road comedy “Easy Does It.” Earlier this month, as the film approached the final days of a 30-day shoot, the production’s young crew filled the front rooms of King George’s make-believe criminal lair on Esplanade.
Actress Linda Hamilton, whose credits include two “Terminator” movies with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the TV series “Beauty and the Beast,” co-stars in “Easy Does It” as King George, the film’s female heavy with a male name.
King George puts her bounty-hunter daughter, Blue Eyes (Susan Gordon), on the trail of a pair of luckless dreamers. Jack and Scottie, played by local actors Ben Matheny (“American Horror Story”) and Matthew Martinez (“NCIS: New Orleans”), owe the crime boss money.
“Easy Does It” is one example of the indie film production that’s blossomed in New Orleans following the flight of major studio productions to Georgia.
Its cast includes Bryan Batt (“Mad Men”) and Dwight Henry (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”). Because Hamilton moved to the New Orleans area 18 months ago, she’s local talent, too. The actress is delighted to be in “Easy Does It.”
“So much fun,” Hamilton said outside on the sidewalk during a quick break from filming. “And the fact that they kept her name King George, there’s a playfulness to it that I really enjoy. And I just thought, ‘It’s local. It’s home.’ I want to encourage the film industry here. And it’s fun to shoot at home.”
“Easy Does It” is the first feature film by a collective of young filmmakers, most of them 2011 and 2012 graduates of the University of New Orleans’ Department of Film and Theatre.
The production’s UNO grads include director and co-writer Will Addison; actor, producer and co-writer Matheny; producer and production coordinator Lizzie Guitreau; and cinematographer and co-executive producer Bruno Doria.
The film is a coproduction of Worklight Pictures and EFI Productions. Guitreau, Matheny and Addison, after five years of making short films, commercials and music videos, were ready for a feature film.
“It’s a natural next step,” Guitreau said.
Most of “Easy Does It” has been shot in the New Orleans area, but the production also traveled to West Texas, Mississippi and the man-made sand dunes in St. Francisville.
“We convincingly faked a road trip from Mississippi all the way to the California border,” Matheny said. “Louisiana has such amazing assets.”
“Easy Does It” executive producer Alexa Georges and the New Orleans film community, including the New Orleans Film Society and NOVAC, have been enormously supportive, Matheny, Guitreau and Addison agreed.
“The script is very funny,” Georges said. “And I love the fact that the filmmakers were all classmates in film school at UNO. As I got to know them, I realized how hardworking, passionate, creative and focused they are. At that point, I was all in.”
“Working on a low-budget indie film,” Matheny added, “it has to be a labor of love to make it happen. We’ve been so lucky to have an awesome community of filmmakers here. Getting a crew was never an issue. Everyone was happy to help us bring our vision to life. The actors, as well.”
Hamilton enjoyed working with the young “Easy Does It” crew.
“They are the future,” she said. “I love getting in there and seeing everything with fresh new eyes. It’s a great thing to have them surrounding me.”
Georges and the production’s crew are thrilled that Hamilton is in their movie.
“She's perfect for the role of King George,” Georges said.
“It’s serendipitous,” Guitreau agreed, “having someone as cool as Linda, someone who fits the part so perfectly, who’s so nearby and willing to help us. She’s the coolest actress I’ve ever met.”
Once photography wraps at the end of July, the filmmakers anticipate months of editing, color correction, sound design and musical scoring to follow. They’ll submit “Easy Does It” to film festivals in hopes of landing a distribution deal.
Georges is upbeat about the film’s prospects.
“Every executive producer hopes their film will make it into all of the major international film festivals,” she said. “I think people are ready for more indie dark comedies. With this funny, quirky script and talented cast and crew, ‘Easy Does It’ is destined to be a hit and, perhaps, even an indie cult film one day.”