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Why Louisiana Is the Next (and Better) Hollywood

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Image: Mashable composite. Getty Creative, A-Digit, filo

Though known best for crawfish, hurricanes and Mardi Gras, Louisiana is California’s newest film industry rival.

Currently, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are fighting crime with a Pelican State backdrop in 22 Jump Street. You may have watched Anna Kendrick sing her way through Baton Rouge in Pitch Perfect and soon in its sequel. True Detective took us through the bayous, while Treme showcased the ins and outs of the nation’s most eclectic city, the one also serving as setting for the new NCIS: New Orleans.

In fact, according to Film LA, 15 years ago, California produced 64% of the top 25 live-action films (by ticket sales). This past year, it produced 8%.

Hollywood still exists, but movies aren’t being made there.

Hollywood still exists, but movies aren’t being made there.

Since time immemorial, there’s been talk of the “new Hollywood.” But 2013 is the first year another city fully surpassed it in sheer number of productions, leaving the film industry fractured. Movies are being made in Louisiana, mainly New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport, thanks to a mixture of tax credits, attractive filming locations and a growing pool of local on-set talent.

We wonder about the iconic town’s future when Hollywood’s primary export is being produced elsewhere.

The city of angels vs. the city that care forgot

Twenty-four-year-old aspiring actress Jennie Kamin is pretty, witty and a master of accents. In other words, she’s ideal for an acting job. Toss in the fact that she debuted on stage at the tender age of five, following in the footsteps of her mother, grandmother and stepfather, and it seems like a sure bet.

After graduating from Tulane University in 2012 and joining the Screen Actors Guild, she was faced with a choice: Remain in New Orleans, her adoptive home (and one close to her actual home in Texas), or move to Los Angeles and follow the Sunset Boulevard dream.

Ten years ago, L.A. would have been a no-brainer. But 10 years ago, Louisiana didn’t offer the best tax credits in the country for filming and production. According to Louisiana Economic Development, the 2002-born tax credits provide “motion picture productions a 30% transferable tax credit on total in-state expenditures, including resident and non-resident labor, with no cap and a minimum spending requirement of $300,000. For productions using in-state labor, Louisiana offers an additional 5% payroll tax credit.”

That tax credit directly led to Kamin’s choice: New Orleans, for awhile. Living in the Central Business District and auditioning weekly, it seemed like a dream. Though filming seemed to be a constant, and she loved living in the city — “The unique part about New Orleans is that people love to live there. There’s creativity there. It’s really an artist’s town.” — a vital aspect of her burgeoning career was missing. Kamin landed roles in the indie Father-Like Son (currently making the festival rounds) and SyFy’s made-for-TV movie American Horror House, but she wasn’t building up the necessary network to truly break into the industry.

Treme New Orleans

In this Feb. 15, 2011 photo, actor John Seda speaks during an interview with the Associated Press on the set of the HBO television series “Treme” outside the Chicky Wah Wah Lounge in New Orleans.

Crews might abound in New Orleans, but studios don’t. To find this, she, like so many before her, moved to Los Angeles.

“People are starting to trickle down to New Orleans, but I still think the majority of people at the beginning of their careers are migrating to Los Angeles,” Kamin says. “It is Hollywood, and I think it’ll always be Hollywood.”

On the other hand, born and bred New Orleanian Kristen Blaum, 28, left Louisiana for L.A. immediately after graduating from LSU, where she studied broadcast communications. She started at a West Coast NBC Page Program — yes, like Kenneth in 30 Rock. That was in 2009.

But after three years in L.A. and experience working as a production assistant on the TV series Hollywood Heights, Blaum returned to New Orleans. There, she worked on the sets of the Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club, the New Orleans-set 2013 season of Top Chef and the blockbuster sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

“I’ve seen a definite growth in the film industry in NOLA, especially since 2009,” Blaum says, adding that locals are being trained in direction, writing and crew work. “[I hope they] stick around as they work their way up the ranks.”

Therein lies the bifurcation the film industry is seeing: Production is outsourced from the creative hub of L.A. It may not be the first time, but it’s the most extreme one.

Toronto, Michigan and yesterday’s “Hollywood of tomorrow”

According to Ira Deutchman, managing partner of Emerging Pictures and head of the producing program in the graduate film division at Columbia University, Toronto was once a burgeoning film center. So was Michigan, says Trey Ellis, the Emmy-nominated screenwriter responsible for HBO’s The Tuskegee Airman and associate professor in Columbia University’s film department.

The former city offered a good trading rate between the Canadian and American dollar, and the latter offered tax credits. But the moment the dollar evened out and those credits ceased, so did the booms. Like moths to lights, the film industry straight-lined to the cheapest production hub. If Louisiana loses its tax credits, it could lose its grip, too.

There’s always the chance that politicians will revoke Louisana’s tax credits, because it’s impossible to measure the trickle-down impact of filming. The opportunity cost, meanwhile, is far easier to track. Louisiana will be out about $6.2 million for Duck Dynasty alone, and a reported released by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office shows the state will be out $170 million due to the credits.

“Michigan doesn’t have the weather or the history of Louisiana,” says Ellis, but he quickly admits it comes down to money.

Likewise, there’s always the chance that California passes similarly attractive credits, though it seems unlikely. According to Deutchman, California simply can’t afford those same tax credits. In fact, he says “I met the new mayor of Los Angeles, and he was at Sundance trying to find ways to bring production back to L.A.”

As Mari Kornhauser, LSU screenwriting professor and writer for HBO’s post-Katrina series Treme, reminds me, the creative talent isn’t moving to New Orleans. The production crews are. While production crews make movies, they don’t make the decisions to make movies.

When Hollywood leaves Hollywood

The studios have much to lose, little to gain by relocating, especially when they can just fly a director and cast to a city with built-in crews. There’s no immediate reason for that infrastructure to move. Still, it’s easy to see the cracks forming in Hollywood’s golden façade.

There’s hope for Louisiana as a major film hub, if not the major film hub.

Ellis says, “I really think Louisiana is setting itself up to be a long-lasting, important film hub along with New York, Miami and Toronto.”

Kornhauser points out the ever-changing infrastructure of film distribution, citing production companies like Court 13 — the one responsible for the Oscar-nominated, Louisiana-set-and-filmed Beasts of the Southern Wild — and local comedy company The New Movement*, begun by Chris Trew and Tami Nelson.

The former forewent trained actors by casting a local baker and a young student as the leads in the acclaimed Beasts of the Southern Wild. The latter, meanwhile, trains local talent much like the Upright Citizens Brigade or Second City might and then creates web series such as Sunken City or the New York Times-featured My Purse. My Choice, by comedy troupe rude.

Neither company is a threat to the monolith of Hollywood, but Kornhauser cites both as proof that the inevitable new distribution models could change the status quo. She compares the film industry to the music and publishing industries and points out that, were the film industry ever to mirror those in terms of losing control of distribution (which it arguably already is), there’s no reason why smaller companies couldn’t take over.

And New Orleans is vibrant with creation.

“The more you have going on, the more people will start to create their content,” Kornhauser says. “New Orleans is a very good place to get training as an [assistant director] and jump over to something else.”

For now, production junkies like Blaum will move to Louisiana, while aspiring creatives like Kamin head out to Los Angeles. But, for the first time in film’s history, those creatives might have sights set on Louisiana for the long-term.

“There’s an idea in New Orleans that it’s a place where dreams come true, and Hollywood used to have that,” Kamin says. “But the community in New Orleans really supports that idea, and that’s why I believe it’s going to persist and thrive.”

Added Kamin, “New Orleans is anyone’s ball game.”

(Courtesy of mashable.com)

Movie job training workshops offered in Baton Rouge in early August

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As movie productions around Baton Rouge wrap and others begin, a number of workshops geared toward locals looking to get into the industry are scheduled for the coming summer weeks.

These programs are hosted by the Arts Council of Baton Rouge and the Baton Rouge branch of the New Orleans Video Access Center, which began offering job training here in March.

  • Creative Industries Corp: The Arts Council’s program begins Aug. 1 and focuses on the production of a short documentary film. Students will finish a 12-minute documentary about the Lincoln Theater by the end of the weeklong training, which ends Aug. 8. The program costs $100, except for residents of Old South Baton Rouge who can take the classes for free. Go to the Louisiana International Film Festival’s website for more information and to register.
  • P.A. Boot Camp: Workshop participants will focus on the basic skills required of production assistants from instructors from Quixote Studios in Los Angeles. These classes will take place at the Celtic Media Centre on Aug. 16 and Aug. 17. The program is free. Register online at www.novacvideo.org.
  • Intro to AD’ing: This workshop offers an inside look at what it takes to be an assistant director on a movie set. Quixote Studios instructors will teach this free course as well from Aug. 19 through Aug. 21. Applications are available on www.novacvideo.org

(Courtesy of nola.com)

Lights, Camera, Action; City of Minden Building Up Film Resume

it’s become well known that many locations in Shreveport have been turned into movie sets. If you take a drive on I 20 east and you will find Camp Minden. Although closed to the public at least 10 films have been shot there. And now farther east to the city of Minden which has been building up its resume of filming locations.

Lynn Dorsey, the executive director of the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau says “One of the things that has been successful about Minden is because it looks like small town USA You could be in any part of the country and have a little downtown with brick streets. The appeal is that to the movie producers. It just looks like small town USA”

And now an innovative idea has come to light. It’s a brochure that details the locations where dozens of movie have been shot in northwest Louisiana.

Lynn Dorsey explains “This is a brand new brochure we are so excited to have. It’s the Northwest Louisiana Film Trail. It identifies sites from Shreveport all the way to Minden Louisiana. Inside people can identify by number the movies they are interested in. And then they can actually open the brochure and those numbers correspond to downtown Shreveport and downtown Minden which is of course what we are really promoting.

Trisha Sprouse told KTBS “I’m here to visit family but I’m also here to produce a segment for my food and travel blog called thevignetteblog dot com. We are just going around town and getting some the historic buildings and old houses. Trying to get some of the atmosphere. We think it’s great my husband and I are from Los Angeles. Both members of the screen actors guild. Moved away to Los Angeles and now the movie business has come here so we think it’s fabulous. We love that.”

Lynn Dorsey goes on to say “From a tourism stand point it has brought and will potentially bring many visitors to our area who would have never known about Minden Louisiana otherwise. Amercian movies are a big big draw.

(Courtesy of ktbs.com)

Top 20 Film Prize shorts make Top 10 list

THE FILMS

‘STALL’
Genre: comedy.
Synopsis: John’s life has sucked ever since he let his girlfriend, Alexis, move away. His stoner best friend, Mike, doesn’t help; he has his own issues to deal with. But with a simple twist of fate, John just might have a chance to get his life out of the toilet.
Directed by: Jared Kudabeck.
Produced by: Jonathan Kudabeck, Jared Kudabeck.
Written by: Mike Glisson.
Cinematography by: Adam Danley.
Starring: Alexander Tavish Dafnis, Taylor Pittman, Chelsea Ally Norman, Sarah Lynn Eilts, Kelly Sparks, Ashley Clark, Alden Register, John Cato.
‘The Sound of Trains’
Genre: sci-fi.
Synopsis: Jacob, a middle-aged hermit, discovers an other worldly goo that triggers disturbing events. These events lead to visitations by curious beings, causing Jacob to question his sanity and whether we really are alone in this universe.
Directed by: Travis Champagne, Jordan Bradley.
Produced by: Travis Champagne, James Crawford, Jordan Bradley, Elizabeth Champagne, Betty Crawford.
Written by: Travis Champagne.
Cinematography by: Jordan Bradley.
Starring: Daniel Baldwin, Kasey James, Gary Smith, Lance Adsit.
DirectTV, Channel 573 Saturday
“STALL,” 9:20 p.m.; “Sound of Trains,” 10:27 p.m.

Two of the Top 20 films at the 2013 Louisiana Film Prize have been named among ShortsHD’s Top 10 shorts to watch in July.

“STALL,” which filmed at Voodoo Cafe in downtown Shreveport, and “The Sound of Trains,” which filmed at the historic Calloway Corners Bed & Breakfast in Sibley, will be showcased on the channel Saturday.

Local DirectTV customers can catch the flicks Saturday on channel 573.

ShortsHD brings audiences captivating contemporary short-form content from filmmakers across six continents. The Shreveport-shot films are among a list that also includes films from the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Ireland and The Netherlands.

“Sound of Trains” director Travis Champagne is a native of Breaux Bridge and got his first start in the film industry in 2005 , playing the son of Sean Penn in the film “All the Kings Men.”

Jared Kudabeck, an active member of the Houston visual arts community, had his directorial debut with “STALL.” He hails from Chicago and was raised in Hot Springs, Arkansas, before moving to Houston, where he focuses much of his time on film, photography and design, according to his Louisiana Film Prize bio.

(Courtesy of shreveporttimes.com)

Movie producer sues over failed film production

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A motion picture producer has filed suit against another production company for alleged fraud and bad faith breach of contract regarding a film the two companies had agreed to work together to produce.

Beelman-Soto Productions LLC and Erik Beelman filed suit against Foreshadow Photography LLC, Merrill Capps, and Todd Klick in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court on June 6, 2014.

Beelman-Soto Productions and Beelman claim that the defendants committed fraud in order to unjustly enrich themselves at the expense of the plaintiffs.

They claim the defendants worked with a film crew much larger than necessary and much larger than would be standard in the film industry in order to inflate travel, food, and other expenses. Beelman-Soto Productions and Beelman also assert that they relied on the defendants’ experience in the industry, but that they misapplied many technical aspects in production. The incorrect technical aspects allegedly included resolution and the footage was filmed in an improper method.

The defendants are accused of fraud, breach of contract, gross negligence and unjust enrichment for their actions in the production of a film being funded by the plaintiff that the plaintiff claims was never completed.

The plaintiffs are seeking more than $175,370 in damages for funds invested in the motion picture as well as an unknown amount in damages for lost profits, lost opportunity costs and all attorneys’ fees.

Beelman-Soto Productions LLC and Erik Beelman are represented by Michael T. Wawrzycki from the firm of Reich, Album & Plunkett LLC in Metairie.

The case has been assigned to Division J Judge Paula A. Brown.

(Courtesy of louisianarecord.com)

Local volunteers shot award-winning project in Baton Rouge

Advocate photo by MARK H. HUNTER -- Brock Kaufman and David Coleman Mills, from left, show off two of the nine awards 'My Choice is Clear' earned at the Louisiana Independent Filmakers Awards Benefit. Kaufman took top actor honors and the film won Best Faith-based film and the audience choice award.Advocate photo by MARK H. HUNTER — Brock Kaufman and David Coleman Mills, from left, show off two of the nine awards ‘My Choice is Clear’ earned at the Louisiana Independent Filmakers Awards Benefit. Kaufman took top actor honors and the film won Best Faith-based film and the audience choice award.

A few miles south of Baton Rouge along the side of Interstate 10, a homemade, white cross adorned with red hearts, plastic flowers and photographs reminds passing motorists of a fatal accident.

What’s the story behind that cross? And what if that terrible situation and other tragedies could be divinely altered so they never happened?

That is the premise for a short film, “My Choice is Clear,” produced by Reel Kids Productions, a team of local adult and youth actors, directors and producers whose mission is to promote Louisiana talent.

“My Choice” won nine awards at the first Louisiana Independent Filmakers Awards Benefit, organized by the Louisiana Film Academy of Technology, in May at the University of New Orleans.

Filmed entirely around the Baton Rouge area by more than 30 crew and cast members who donated their time and talents, “My Choice” won Best Film in the faith-based category and Audience Choice overall. It is a 30-minute movie that those involved hope will be turned into a full-length feature or a television series, said writer, producer and actor David Coleman Mills.

“The story is about a young boy, (who) once a year goes to different memorials, like crosses on the side of the road and things like that, and has the ability to see the back story that happened and then has the ability go back in time and affect one of them,” Mills explained. “This particular journey is more about how does he determine whose life deserves to be saved more than the others, or even if he has the ability to affect that particular outcome.”

“That’s a lot of pressure,” added Brock Kaufman, 15, who won Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Scott Lamb, the teen who makes the difficult choice to change only one of the story’s three fatal situations.

A seasoned actor with a big smile, the young actor has appeared in a dozen other productions including “Christmas Angel” by Pure Flix, the company that recently released “God Is Not Dead,” and in “Green Lantern,” as a young Jack Jordan, the older brother of Hal Jordan, who becomes the Green Lantern.

“I’ve always liked spreading God’s word, and when he (Mills) called me and told me about the story, I was ecstatic,” Kaufman said. “I thought it was an awesome idea and an awesome story, and I wanted to be a part of it right away.”

The film was originally called “My Cross to Bear,” Mills said, but they discovered in mid-filming another movie with that name is being produced. In one of the last scenes, Kaufman’s character enters a rustic plantation chapel where he experiences his time travel and when he exits to his waiting father, played by Garrett Kruithoff, he tells him, “my choice is clear.”

“When we were filming that scene, and Brock said it, the hair on the back of my neck stood up,” Mills said, and that’s when they decided on that title.

The entire story is wrapped around the God-given gift of time-travel, and several hymns and worship songs are part of the soundtrack.

The film is not yet available to the public, Mills added, because they are still shopping it for a TV series or full-blown production.

Making movies, especially outside of Hollywood, is a tough business, Mills said, but there is a growing market for faith-based stories, as evidenced by the recent “God is Not Dead,” a low-budget film that earned more than $50 million. It was filmed in Baton Rouge, and Mills played a role in it.

“I think people are really getting tired of the same old thing. If you have to use an ‘F word’ to make something funny, it probably really wasn’t that funny,” Mills said. “We started out Reel Kids as good-values based, and now we are pretty much completely faith-based.”

The latest project for Reel Kids is a faith-based film titled “Lunch Money,” about an elementary school bully who encounters “tough love” from a new girl in class. It’s in post production and should be finished this fall.

Brock’s mother Tina Kaufman has been with her son on every step in his acting career.

“As a parent I want him to do good films, and I want to see good films go to the (big) screen and not have to screen out all those (bad) things,” Tina Kaufman said. “When he did ‘Christmas Angel’ with Pure Flix, everybody on the set were good Christians. Then they did ‘God Is Not Dead’ and they sold out theaters, which is a huge message that we want to see good, Christian films.”

The young Kaufman isn’t sure whether his future is in acting; he first has to finish up at Central High School. He writes short stories and movie scripts, plays football and basketball and wants to attend LSU. He and his parents attend the Journey Church.

“Whatever I do, I want to make sure I’m spreading God’s word,” he said. “I don’t want to be participating in anything that goes against my beliefs.”

And the message of the film is?

“You never know when your time is going to come,” Mills said. “Live like it is your last day.”

“Use your God given talents to the best ability you can and always thank him for it,” Brock Kaufman added. “Spread God’s word and help others.”

(Courtesy of the advocate.com)

‘Alabama Moon’ film, shot in Louisiana, tells nice coming-of-age tale about trust, tragedy and choice

Alabama Moon.jpg

Jimmy Bennett, above, stars in “Alabama Moon,” a 2009 film adaptation of Watt Key’s novel of the same name. (Faulkner-McLean Entertainment)

 

This review accompanies AL.com’s Red Clay Readers summer series following books by authors with Alabama ties and the films they inspired.

Does a child raised in the Alabama forests by a paranoid, anti-government survivalist stand any chance in ever trusting another human being, even when they extend a hand in his greatest time of need?

Watt Key’s 2006 young adult novel “Alabama Moon” explores that through the eyes of 11-year-old Moon Blake, a resourceful rapscallion left to his own devices after suddenly losing his father to an accident in the woods.

Director Tim McCanlies adapted Key’s novel into a motion picture, which premiered at the Sidewalk Film Festival in September 2009.

Key’s novel finds itself deeply rooted in Alabama forests, full of references to real Alabama cities. But sadly, incentives to film in states other than Alabama prove too tough to pass up for filmmakers with a limited budget.

So McCanlies and his crew instead opted for Louisiana, though the film remains set in the Yellowhammer state. We get those same references to Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Mobile and other cities, but the film’s biggest problem lies in the fact that region it adopts never finds tangible life on screen.

McCanlies gets to the heart of Key’s coming-of-age tale of survival, tragedy and trust just fine through a series a emotional scenes that won’t have trouble connecting with most audiences, especially children. But it’s frustrating when a film with Alabama in its title can’t find its production in that state, losing a crucial sense of place for that audience, particularly those from the area. So any reference to Tuscaloosa, Livingston or Pinson ultimately loses meaning because the film literally won’t take us there.

But let’s not get too hung up on the geography and see if “Alabama Moon” the film accomplishes what it actually set out to, which is realize Key’s literary vision on the big screen.

So once Moon’s father breaks his leg and won’t seek medical help in the city, the young man loses his father and must fend for himself in the Alabama wilderness using the resources and knowledge his eccentric father taught him.

“We don’t owe anything to anybody,” his father tells him early on, not giving Moon much of a chance at all to connect to the outside world, much less a desire to ever do so. “Don’t trust anybody.”

After the boy buries his father, he wonders through the woods and on to the property of a kind lawyer (John Goodman) who calls the police to help him, only the local constable (Clint Howard) only makes the boy’s life an even greater struggle by handing him directly to the Pinson Boy’s Home. So his anti-government father’s worse nightmare comes true, as his son becomes property of the state.

Moon makes a strong impression, immediately confronting (and befriending) the institution’s big bully Hal and insisting to new friends like the sickly Kit and the home’s administrators that he plans to bust out and head back home as soon as he gets an opportunity.

But even as Moon yearns to go back to the woods and carry on as his father taught him, he already embraces elements of the outside world from which his dad sheltered him like friends and even food. Life on the “outside” isn’t so bad after all, but Moon remains reluctant to trust anyone, unless he needs help escaping.

You can’t blame Moon’s lack of trust or respect for the authority tasked with “helping” him adjust to the real world, particularly Howard’s cartoonishly evil constable and the boy’s smarmy home director (Michael P. Sullivan). Maybe Moon’s dad had it right, after all. Why trust anybody if they just want to gleefully put him behind bars, cut his mop hairdo and take away his precious possessions? The outsider portrayal of Alabama authority figures, particularly its government officials, leaves plenty to be desired, but these characters are pretty commonplace in children’s films no matter the setting.

The strengths of this movie definitely lie in Moon’s acclimation to society, learning it’s OK to make friends and think differently. As a more positive adult character says to him about his paranoid father late in the movie, “You don’t have to feel like he did. Most people don’t.” He doesn’t insult his upbringing. Instead, he just lets the young man know he has a choice in how he lives and whom he trusts.

The film features beautiful cinematography from Jimmy Lindsey, a frequent collaborator with Robert Rodriguez and director of photography on HBO shows “Veep” and “Eastbound & Down.” It also has a nice musical score composed by Ludek Drizhal, who gracefully channels Thomas Newman without miming.

Alabama Moon.jpg
John Goodman, above, co-stars in “Alabama Moon,” based on Watt Key’s 2006 novel. (Faulkner-McLean Entertainment)

 

Goodman and Howard are the only recognizable faces in the modestly budgeted production, and they generously lend their familiar touches, though Howard often plays his villain pretty over the top. But I don’t know what else you’d expect from Clint Howard. Young Jimmy Bennett plays Moon. You might recognize him  from J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek,” where he played a young James T. Kirk on the run from police.

The film is sweet and should still play well with young audiences despite wandering into cliched territory, complete with a forced courtroom climax that doesn’t reward the characters as you’d hope. But you still root for Moon and his journey to find individuality and trust through tragedy at a young age.

Still, you wish other states’ incentives weren’t so enticing that filmmakers would opt to tell specifically-set stories elsewhere. Mimicking geography rarely works, and generic woods don’t necessarily breathe life into a region you’re depicting. So please come film in Alabama, folks, even you must stretch your dollars. You won’t regret it.
Note: The film is relatively hard to find. It is available for rental on disc via Netflix, but it’s expensive to purchase the DVD. I happened to find it at the Tuscaloosa Public Library, so be sure to check your local catalogs.

(Courtesy of al.com)

Extras needed for Jurassic World movie shoot

The Jurassic World movie that’s filming in the New Orleans area needs 150 paid extras this week.

According to WWL, more than 6,000 paid extras have already been used for the film, with 150 more needed for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Extras will be paid $101.50 per day and receive catered meals.

WWL reports that anyone interested in being an extra for Jurassic World should send a photo, telephone number and email address to ebbtidelouisiana@gmail.com.

(Courtesy of katc.com)

Louisiana will devote more than $6.2 million in tax dollars to ‘Duck Dynasty’, local nonprofit says

'Duck Dynasty: Season 4'
The Louisiana Budget Project estimates “Duck Dynasty” will receive $6.2 million from the state government for its first three seasons of production. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)

Louisiana taxpayers will end up paying $6.2 million — likely more money actually — to the producers and stars of “Duck Dynasty” through a generous government subsidy film and television productions across the state receive, according to an analysis done by a left-leaning policy group.

The Louisiana Budget Project, a Baton Rouge-based nonprofit, estimates the hit reality television series on A&E qualified for over $6 million worth of government payouts for just the first three seasons of the show’s run. “Duck Dynasty” has filmed six seasons of episodes, which means the government liability is probably higher than originally estimated. But additional information about salary and production costs for the more recent seasons isn’t available yet, so it is difficult to come up with a full estimate, according to the nonprofit.

In Louisiana, the government gives tax credits that cover both production costs and actors salaries for films and television shows made here. Louisiana waivers 30 percent of the money producers spend while shooting a film or television production in the Bayou state. Thirty-five percent of local actors or on-air talent’s salaries are also compensated.

Though the benefits are technically given through a tax credit, film and television companies receive them regardless of whether they pay any taxes in Louisiana. This means the tax credits easily turn into a direct cash benefit for most out-of-state production companies.

“Duck Dynasty” will be subsidized by Louisiana to the tune of $38,433 per episode in season one, $107,328 in season two and $328,521 in season three, according to the Louisiana Budget Project.

But the reality television show is hardly the only television or film production receiving the generous film and television program subsidy. Moreover, the “Duck Dynasty” production is more likely to contribute to the Louisiana government’s bottom line than other actors and talent.

The show’s stars — the well-known Robertson family — live and run a family business in Louisiana, which means they are more likely to pay taxes in the state than other actors and producers who come to work in the state from elsewhere. “Duck Dynasty” has also generated something of a cottage tourism industry in West Monroe, where the show takes place, according to Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne.

Dardenne — who oversees the state’s tourism industry — said some people are coming to Louisiana and spending money in the state specifically to visit the Robertsons hometown and business. That type of activity ends up producing additional revenue for Louisiana’s government.

(Courtesy of NOLA.com)

Hank Williams biopic starring Hiddleston to film in Louisiana

Tom Hiddleston, best known as Loki from the blockbuster “The Avengers” franchise, will star in “I Saw The Light” — a Hank Williams biopic set to begin shooting in October.

Millennium Studios made the announcement Tuesday morning on its Facebook page.

Written and directed by Marc Abraham, “I Saw the Light” will chronicle Williams’ rise to stardom and the effects of years of substance abuse that ended the performer’s life at age 29. The film is based on a 1994 biography by Colin Escott. The page says Hiddleston will do his own singing in the film.

A preliminary release date is set for 2015, according to IMBD.

(Courtesy of theadvertiser.com)