Luke Welden got more than cake at a birthday party he attended in 2014. He found a second career in the booming Georgia film industry.
He managed his family’s construction business in Lawrenceville for his first career. But the financial crisis in 2008 slowed down work and Luke was searching for something new.
“At a birthday party, I was complaining to a friend of mine that the construction business was slow,” says Luke. “He worked as a locations manager and needed an experienced manager to work for him. That was my first step into the film industry.”
Luke didn’t know much about the film industry, but he knew how to plan. “People working in locations are essentially big event planners,” says Luke. “We need to get a herd of people to where they need to be, every day, on set.”
He began his career on the set of an indie film called “Phenom.” He learned the responsibilities of each department and what was required of him. He worked hard, made mistakes and learned from them. Luke figured out that locations is a check-list business. Every location is different, but the tasks remain the same.
Locations turned out to be a good fit for Luke. His past experience, work ethic and meeting the right people opened up more jobs for him. His biggest film was “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” partially filmed at the Georgia Dome. The name of the film was apropos. It was the most he ever walked, walking more than 30 miles a day. He wore two pedometers because he couldn’t believe the distances he was tracking. He walked six miles just knocking on every actor’s door. The most he walked was an epic 47-mile day.
Luke has been working steadily for the past three years in Georgia’s thriving film industry, and he always remembers the struggles of being a small business.
“I’m a Georgia guy so I try to use local vendors for trash, trailers, HVAC, tenting, lighting, and security,” says Luke. “It touches my community so I want keep the money in Georgia where I feed my family. I sleep better at night knowing I can help other Georgians.”
His Georgia roots show in other ways, too, like his Southern manners and courteousness. Even though he’s not selling windows to homeowners any longer, he’s still going into their homes and neighborhoods to film. “It’s the Southern way, how I was brought up,” says Luke.
Luke’s favorite show to work on so far has been the Golden Globe-nominated “Stranger Things.” All of the effort seems worthwhile on a show that so many people love. His only problem?
“When my wife mentions my work on ‘Stranger Things’ at parties, that’s all people want to talk about. It’s a fandom business, but it feels great to work on a well-loved show,” says Luke.