Archbishop Shaw is a cinematic big shot
Graduation wasn’t the only subject of conversation in April and May of 2013 at Archbishop Shaw High School in Marrero.
For several weeks, a film crew from the movie “When the Game Stands Tall” – currently in theaters – used the campus as the setting for the home campus of the real-life De La Salle Spartan High School in California depicted in the movie. The team had 12 undefeated seasons with a 151-game winning streak, the longest in sports history in the United States. Shaw’s football practice field, locker rooms and classrooms are featured prominently.
“The exciting thing for me – the first scene opens up in Shaw’s locker room,” said Christopher Collins, assistant principal of academics at Archbishop Shaw High School, who was an extra.
In that first scene, actor James Caviezel, portraying Coach Bob Ladoeceur, is in the Shaw locker room speaking to his team of football players.
“The band and cheerleaders were extras in the movie,” Collins said. “Whenever you see the Spartan cheerleaders or band, they were actually Archbishop Shaw and Academy of Our Lady students.”
The school and extras (students and parents) were paid a stipend for their efforts, Collins said.
For Collins, it was interesting to see the “behind-the-camera aspect of film making. But, the most exciting part of the filming was having Caviezel on campus.
“The guy who played Jesus in ‘Passion of the Christ’ was actually on our campus,” he said.
Collins said part of the movie was filled in Don Bosco Hall and every time Caviezel, a Catholic, passed the chapel, “he would genuflect. I thought it was an awesome witness (of faith to students).”
Collins said the film crew wanted Shaw’s facilities manager to leave its campus just as it was. The minor changes made in the movie to the campus included replacing locker room doors with doors with extra windows so more of what happened in the movie could be seen; putting De La Salle and Spartan stickers around school; and hanging a makeshift banner in the courtyard during the part of the movie that featured the excitement at school during the Spartans’ winning streak.
“I think it’s really great for our alumni to go to the movies and see their school on the big screen,” Collins said.
This is not the first connection Archbishop Shaw has had with the film industry. Carlos Savant, a 1994 graduate, works in film industry doing special effects make up, and 1982 graduate Troy Duhon was executive producer on the faith-based, independent film “God’s NOT Dead,” a 2014 KLOVE TV/Film Impact Award winner for Christian films. Duhon, owner of Premier Automotive Group, became involved in the project after learning that 61 percent of college students walk away from their faith, which he attributes to them not knowing it.
“That scared me,” he said. “It inspired me to do something to give the kids basic arguments and resources to go to when presented with the argument, ‘There is no God.’ With this and ‘God’s Not Dead II’ coming out in late 2015, there will be enough resources for kids to understand why there is a God.”
The multi-media event, ”God’s Not Dead Live” will tour the United States in 2015.
“These movies offer hope to our young and allow them to know that life is not all about violence or the other immoral acts displayed on the big screen, and it gives them the courage to stand up for their faith,” Collins said.