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Loyola students cast as extras in HBO's 'Treme'

March 23, 2012

More than 30 students from the digital filmmaking, theatre arts and digital media departments at Loyola University New Orleans recently had the opportunity to work as costumed extras in a Carnival scene for an upcoming episode of the HBO hit series, “Treme.”

Directed by Academy Award-winning actor and director Tim Robbins, the episode’s storyline featured a Mardi Gras march to the Mississippi River, where the cast of characters deposited the ashes of one of their deceased friends, along with the ashes of a dog named Prytania.

Jim Gabour, a seasoned film veteran who is also artist-in-residence and extraordinary professor of video technology at Loyola’s College of Music and Fine arts, accompanied the students on set, even dressing in costume alongside them.

“It was a major hoot, but 18 takes of a Mardi Gras march, clambering up and down the rough Moonwalk steps in full Carnival regalia to the river was a bit much,” Gabour said. “But imagine 31 Loyola kids in costumes, completely fired up with excitement, acting like pros.”

The students, who were each paid $150 for their five hours of time, were treated just like the other 125 extras and had to sign a mountain of paperwork, including union waivers in quintuplicate, W-4 forms, proof of residency credentials (because the production company gets tax credits for every Louisiana resident they employ), and Homeland Security employment forms to prove they were U.S. citizens, before beginning the shoot.

Gabour also noted that the students were excited that the episode was shot on Panavision 35mm film, as opposed to digital. “They loved seeing the ‘Big Guns’ of moviemaking – multiple cameras to get all the action of us coming down the broad rough steps to river’s edge, a huge brass band roaring at our backs. They learned how to get into the camera shots rather quickly,” Gabour said.

Created by HBO veteran producer/writer David Simon, “Treme” premiered in 2010 and recounts the trials and tribulations of musicians, chefs, Mardi Gras Indians and other New Orleans residents as they try to rebuild their lives, their homes and their unique culture in the months after Hurricane Katrina. The series stars notable actors Melissa Leo, Steve Zahn, and New Orleans native Wendell Pierce, among others.

For more information, contact Gabour at jgabour@loyno.edu or 504-865-2720.

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