Louisiana Film Industry News

Film industry on pace to break record year in ‘Hollywood South’ (AP Report) — 04.01.2008
By STACEY PLAISANCE, Associated Press Writer NEW ORLEANS —

Justin Timberlake, Salma Hayek and Michael Douglas are among a host of celebrities working on films in Louisiana, contributing to what’s shaping up to be the busiest year for the state’s film industry to date. Figures released this week by the state Office of Entertainment Industry Development show about two dozen film and television projects in production or pre-production in the state so far this year. There were 53 in all of 2007.

“We’re on track to break last year’s total,” said Chris Stelly, director of film and television for the state. Stelly says that although filmmaking has been on the rise in Louisiana since the state adopted a widely successful package of tax credits for film and television productions in 2002, the state has arguably never looked more like its moniker “Hollywood South” than it does right now.

Competition among states for a piece of the lucrative film and television production business has sharpened over the past several years. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than three dozen states in 2007 had some form of incentive for the film or TV industry or were looking to pass them. When a major studio shoots a big budget film on location, it can mean $225,000 per day to the local economy, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. Even a brief shoot creates local jobs and generates waves of positive publicity.

In Louisiana, Timberlake and Jeff Bridges are working on the independent drama “The Open Road” in New Orleans, Douglas and Jesse Metcalfe are filming a remake of the 1950s criminal drama “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” in the town of Shreveport. Also in production in the state are the action flick “12 Rounds” starring World Wrestling Entertainment’s John Cena, Universal Pictures’ “Cirque du Freak” starring Hayek and John C. Reilly, the sci-fi feature film “Robosapien” based on the popular toy by the same name and the horror sequel “Final Destination 4.”

Dean Devlin, executive producer of “The Librarian: The Curse of the Judas Chalice” starring Noah Wyle and Bob Newhart, which is currently in production in New Orleans, says he’s been impressed with the services and the people while working in Louisiana. This was his first time working in the state. “This was really a joy, a joy on the set, a joy off the set. People took care of us,” he said during a short break in filming earlier this week. Louisiana is working to get funding to develop its film infrastructure and resources, such as training residents in crew positions including grips, lighting, camera operators, wardrobe, set construction and painting, said Amber Havens, spokeswoman for the state’s film and television division. Havens said one of the industry’s biggest successes has been its expansion across the state, particularly into Shreveport. Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the industry “relocated to as far north as possible without leaving the state, and Shreveport was ready to step up and embrace it,” she said. LOAD-DATE: March 29, 2008.

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