Hollywood South in for Blockbuster Summer

Posted on June 5th, 2014 by Lenny Alsfeld

NEW ORLEANS — Summer is the time when mega-movies hit the theaters, but Louisiana is also in for a blockbuster summer of movie and television production.

“Hollywood South” is getting hotter. “Fantastic Four,” “Terminator 5,” “Pitch Perfect 2” and “Jurassic World” are all shooting in New Orleans this summer, along with the television series “NCIS: New Orleans” and “American Horror Story: Freak Show.”

“Those are some of the largest films in the world being produced right now in our state between Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport,” said Andre Champagne.

The Louisiana native and LSU grad is reaping the benefits of a thriving local film industry. Champagne’s Hollywood Trucks business provides a fleet of production vehicles and high-end trailers used by the likes of Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck.

Hollywood Trucks is one of those home-grown Louisiana businesses that have actually grown with the popularity of Hollywood South. The company went from $600,000 in revenue in 2008 to more than $5 million, last year.

Champagne said other smaller support services businesses are benefiting from his companies success.

“We spend millions of dollars a year on mechanical services,” said Champagne. “Think about. You have a car, you need to get brake jobs. We have to do 300 brake jobs. Body work, mechanical shops, tires, think about the amount of fuel bought through Louisiana gas stations across the entire state.”

Donna Duplantier has acted in dozens of films, including “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” both shot in her hometown of New Orleans.

“I’m home,” said Duplantier. “I get to see my parents. I get to see my nieces and nephews.”

Duplantier said there’s a good reason why Hollywood South is doing so well.

“We have an amazing array of people who have been in this business a long time, born and raised in New Orleans. They know exactly what they’re doing.”

Both Duplantier and Champagne say an aggressive tax incentive program drew Hollywood producer to Louisiana, but it’s the state that keeps them coming back film after film.

“Once they get here they recognize how great the local residents are in each city, how easy it is to shoot,” said Champagne.

“When they come down before they shoot, they actually get to know the environment,” said Duplantier. “We’re a lot slower. We’re a lot more laid back.”

Louisiana is now on pace to top the 123 projects filmed in the state last year.

According to the Louisiana Film Office, movie and television producers spent nearly $810 million in the state in 2013.