By the BF Staff
From the November/December 2021 Issue
Louisiana is an innovator in film production. Its pioneering Motion Picture Production Program was the first of its kind in the nation when it debuted in the early 2000s, and it continues to be a draw for film productions in the state, covering costs for a broad range of production needs, including equipment rentals as well as cast and crew salaries for work performed in Louisiana.
Along with attractive financial incentives, Louisiana offers motion picture productions a wide availability of state-of-the-art facilities, abundant skilled film crews, a kaleidoscope of scenic options, affordable standards of living and world-class hospitality.
In the past decade alone, Louisiana has hosted over 400 motion picture, television series and documentary productions. Among them are Academy Award winners for Best Motion Picture, “Green Book” and “12 Years a Slave.” Other notable Louisiana-shot productions include “American Horror Story,” “CSI: New Orleans,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Logan” and “Jurassic World.”
Speaking to why productions like these are drawn to Louisiana, industry veteran Paul Garnes said, “Louisiana’s rich details bring so much to what we do in the storytelling process, but on top of that, there’s a very strong crew base and a very lucrative tax incentive. All that really makes it a no-brainer to shoot there.”
Garnes, who currently serves as an executive producer for OWN’s Louisiana-based shows “Queen Sugar” and “Cherish the Day,” added, “We always feel very at home in Louisiana. It enriches our lives working with the community there. One thing that other places don’t have is that Louisiana has its own unique culture that permeates the landscape.”
Queen Sugar and Cherish the Day shoot throughout southeast Louisiana, but an upcoming Disney+ feature film required its own unique space to film—outer space to be exact.
Set on both a lunar colony and an alien planet, production for Disney+’s “Crater” called for a state-of-the-art facility with massive amounts of production space. Enter Baton Rouge’s Celtic Studios. “Crater” production executive Chris Caraballo wasn’t shy in his assessment of Celtic: “Every film needs a home, and Celtic was a slam dunk.”
“We always feel very at home in Louisiana. It enriches our lives working with the community there. One thing that other places don’t have is that Louisiana has its own unique culture that permeates the landscape.”
— Paul Garnes,
OWN Executive Producer
Fortunately, Celtic is just one of many “slam dunk” facilities in Louisiana, with state-of-the-art production sites like Millennium Stages, the Nims Center, Starlight Studios, Mardi Gras Studios, Quixote, Second Line Studios and The Ranch offering one-stop shops for productions. The scope and size of these studios stands out, offering hundreds of thousands of square feet of space for staging, lighting, production offices and wardrobe and decor shops.
Having an established workforce in place has been another one of Louisiana’s draws. Louisiana boasts a deep and experienced crew base which includes grips, gaffers, location managers, welders, carpenters, set designers and many more. The continued development of those workers and the next generation of filmmakers adds another layer to the richness of the state’s film production industry.
Louisiana’s Entertainment Development Fund (EDF) was established to reinvest in educational and workforce training opportunities to Louisiana residents. This fund enables aspiring industry workers to get hands-on experience and enables Louisiana’s public and private institutions of higher education to expand their current offerings. EDF grants have already been awarded to organizations that are coordinating film industry training programs in Louisiana high schools and higher-ed institutions.
A program at Loyola University in New Orleans to prepare film students for careers in motion picture post-production is the latest recipient of an EDF award. Loyola’s Department of Digital Filmmaking will receive $248,975 to purchase specialized equipment to increase training opportunities in post-production in the Louisiana film industry.
“The work of motion picture production doesn’t end when the cameras stop rolling,” said Louisiana Economic Development (LED) Secretary Don Pierson. “Louisiana’s film industry offers many job opportunities in post-production, and these positions often are highly technical in nature and provide good salaries and benefits. With this Entertainment Development Fund award, Loyola University will be able to provide its digital filmmaking students with the latest technology as they learn the technical processes and professional quality standards for today’s digital media production.”
Reflecting back on the maturation of the film industry in the state, Chris Stelly, who oversees LED’s entertainment division, said, “We’ve got a great incentive that drives business to the state, but at the same time, we’ve built state-of-the-art infrastructure, a skilled crew base and a pro-entertainment community. We offer a unique, fertile ground for business development in entertainment.”