Yesterday, Scene sat down Winston Achee at our office on the lot at Raleigh Studios to discuss the dramatic increases in security meascid.
Achee is chief of security for the Celtic Corporation, which owns the studio facility also known as the Celtic Media Centre. Arguably the most high-profile film to ever shoot in Louisiana, part one of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn begins filming today on the lot at Raleigh Studios Baton Rouge at the Celtic Media Centre. It is the first part of the two-installment finale, set to hit theaters on November 18 of next year.
In the weeks leading up to Twilight‘s arrival, Raleigh Studios has been steadily implementing new security measures, including vehicle identification requirements and unique photo badges that authorized personnel must display at all times. But, by far, the most significant change is a 600% increase in the size of the studios own security force.
“We have increased our number of full-time security personnel from six to twenty-four in the last week,” says Achee. “That’s just the beginning of the ramp-up. We’ll be adding two to four more every week.” Rather than hire harmless security guards, these new additions are mostly veterans of Louisiana police forces and sheriff’s departments.
In addition to the direct hires, another twenty man force has been added as well. “So, we’ll have on property at all times a forty-eight man force. We are not taking security on this property lightly,” Achee says.
The high profile project also brings its own high profile security. In addition to the personal body guards employed by stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, the production itself employs additional security. “The security that the production has brought doubles our own force,” says Achee.
A key point that Achee highlighted repeatedly was that, contrary to popular opinion, trespass at Raleigh Studios is not a misdemeanor. ”We have a law on the books, State criminal statute 1462.4. If you get charged with that offense, it’s a felony. This ain’t no misdemeanor.”
That statute of Louisiana’s criminal law states that, “Unauthorized entry of a place of business is the intentional entry by a person without authority into any structure or onto any premises, belonging to another, that is completely enclosed by any type of physical barrier that is at least six feet in height and used in whole or in part as a place of business.” Those convicted of felony trespass on the studio lot are subject to imprisonment at hard labor for up to six years and a fine of up to $1000.
“We will absolutely prosecute every person who trespasses,” says Achee. “There have been six who trespassed before and they have all been caught.” When asked how he knew only six had trespassed before, Achee’s answer came quick: “Security cameras. The property is covered with high definition security cameras. A camera mounted on the [main building] can capture the license plate of a car all the way on the other side of the property.” The security camera system video is stored to a source that is backed up offsite. Additionally, the system has a back-up power supply that allows it to continue operating in the event of a power failure.
Achee and his crew of security officers are authorized to detain any trespassers by force until local law enforcement arrives to complete the felony arrest. We asked him if he planned on seeing any young teenage girls arrested, Achee said, “Absolutely. I think of this place as a home. You wouldn’t want somebody trespassing in your home, and if you did, you’d defend yourself. That’s what we’re doing here, it doesn’t matter who it is.”
In closing, when we asked how confident he was that there would be no issues for the productions under his care at Raleigh Studios, Achee’s answer was clear. ”I used to run security for Elvis,” he says. “I’m confident.”