Gonzales welcomes ‘The Son’

Film Friendly designation key in locking down production


GONZALES — Actor Pierce Brosnan may be best known for his portrayal of Bond – James Bond in GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, or Die Another Day. Some fans may remember him from his hit television Show Remington Steele. Younger generations may have loved him in Mrs. Doubtfire or The Thomas Crown Affair; but one thing is for sure, Gonzales definitely welcomed the beloved actor with open arms and lined the streets on Tuesday to catch a glimpse of him in action.

Brosnan received his fans graciously and with a warm smile. He shook hands, hugged fans, posed for pictures and selfies; and he had plenty nice to say about Gonzales.

Mayor Connie Kacir welcomed Brosnan to Gonzales and told him he was most welcome and she hoped he would be filming here again in the future.

"I am so happy to be here," he said. "What a welcome! Thanks for having me."

One cannot talk to a visiting celebrity and not ask what his day in Gonzales was like. It goes without saying he is a busy man but he did.

"My day started at 5 a.m., so this has been a long day," Brosnan said as the set neared closing for the day. "But, Gonzales is a beautiful town, so this has been a long, beautiful day."

Gonzales was scouted as a scene location for the second season of the AMC original series The Son, back in October. Austin-based Stalwart Films Location Warrior Chris Cantu-Salazar prospected the site, specifically St. George Street, between St. Joseph and St. James streets, where filming took place this week, because the buildings – although some were unoccupied or gated alley access – all had clean well-maintained facades.

The street was transformed into an early 1900s Mexican border town. Set designers built a market, a gas station, a pawn shop, a barber shop and much more to bring the street to life.

Onlookers may have noticed the newly designed street as it was set for the film set in downtown Gonzales, but the real groundwork was laid when Gonzales was designated as a part of "Film Friendly Texas" about 18 months ago.

Back in the spring of 2016, Gonzales Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Daisy Scheske-Freeman attended a Film Friendly workshop held by the Texas Film Commission. The City of Gonzales then sent additional staff to the following Film Friendly workshop, to gain additional insight on the film and television industries of Texas.

Scheske completed the Texas Film Commission certification process and Gonzales was designated a Film Friendly certified community in the summer of 2016.

"Through that certification, the Texas Film Commission staff [helps] communities such as ours build a film profile, for those seeking certain scenes in Texas," Scheske said.

At that time the city received the designation, Scheske and Texas Film Commission Production and Community Relations Specialist Kim LeBlanc, along with local filmmaker Erik McCowan went out cataloging the historic and picturesque sites of Gonzales.

Scheske, LeBlanc and McCowan catalogued sites such as the Lynn Theatre, the courthouse, Pioneer Village, many of the city's beautiful historic homes and much more.

The location photos taken are housed in the Texas Film Commission's locations database and are sent out to filmmakers working in Texas.

According to the Texas Film Commission, when this particular project requested for more information about filming in Gonzales, the commission was able to quickly and easily connect them with contacts in Gonzales, such as Scheske, who had already received training and guidance on how to accommodate requests to film in a Film Friendly manner.

"We are proud to have Gonzales as one of our Film Friendly certified communities, as participation in the Film Friendly Texas program sends a clear message to media industry professionals that certified communities are serious about attracting their business," LeBlanc said.

Scheske said Gonzales is definitely on the radar as far as locations go for future projects. Cantu agreed, saying said Gonzales has a chance at gaining more interest from the industry because the city is easy to work with, Film Friendly and accommodating.

"I feel we are in one of the best locations," she said. "So far, we have worked with smaller productions, out of San Antonio and Houston, and now this project from the Austin area."

Scheske said not only does the location matter in scouting the next scene, but production will also look at the community itself.

"Gonzales is easy to work with along with its citizens, visitors, and business owners who have helped welcome these types of projects with open arms," she said

Scheske said future Brosnan scenes will depend on the project as the series develops.

"Think about it — there are so many locations in the entire world. Film ranges anywhere from commercials to video games, movies and short films," she said. "You never know what scene the director will dream up. Luckily for the AMC Series 'The Son', Gonzales was on their radar and we hope to continue to grow awareness of the area for future projects."

The city benefits in many ways from production, whether economically or as a community experience.

“When a film or TV project lands in your community, the local spending that takes place and the positive economic impact is immediate," Leblanc said. "On-location filming activity stimulates local economies by creating jobs for Texas-based crew members and local residents. On-location filming activity generates on-site spending on local goods and services at small businesses. This type of economic impact includes but is not limited to: lodging, catering, transportation, location fees, lumber and construction supplies, local hires and much more.”

Scheske said any time there is a project of this caliber, there will be a boost to the location, no matter what the economic outcome is.

"I feel what the community got to experience is priceless. It was heartwarming to see Mrs. Buesing's GISD theatre students experience an actual set take place, the joy on the Gonzales firemen's faces when one of their own was cast in the production, and to watch locals gaze in awe at Pierce Brosnan as he gave a quick wave and hello to the crowd. Having that experience and that moment captured was amazing."