‘Pitch’ trailer features several BR spots

Advocate file photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Crews work to film 'Pitch Perfect 2' in June at BREC's Highland Road Community Park in Baton Rouge.
Advocate file photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND — Crews work to film ‘Pitch Perfect 2′ in June at BREC’s Highland Road Community Park in Baton Rouge.

Those are just a few of the local sites which pop up on the just-released trailer for the feature film “Pitch Pefect 2.”

The film was shot over the summer in Baton Rouge and is a sequel to 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” also shot in the city, mostly on the LSU campus.

According to the movie database IMDb, the new musical comedy follows characters Fat Amy and Beca through their senior year at Barden University.

The movie’s returning stars include Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Brittany Snow. “Pitch Perfect 2” marks the directorial debut for actress/executive producer Elizabeth Banks. The movie also stars Skylar Astin, Hailee Steinfeld, Anna Camp, Katey Segal, Adam Devine and Banks.

The film opens in theaters May 15, 2015.

To view the trailer, go to http://youtu.be/KBwOYQd21TY.

(Courtesy of theadvocate.com)

Descendant of Huey Long assassin creates film

Huey P Long Photo by By Uncredited news photographer. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Every family has its secrets. For some, it means the rocky ending to a longtime marriage or the revelation of once-unknown step-siblings. With other families, these secrets can help unravel some of history’s most famous obscurities.

Yvonne Boudreaux, a filmmaker and University alumna, has worked on many well-known projects, including the NBC series “Revolution” and the films “Machete” and “Paranorman.” For the last five years, Boudreaux has been working on “61 Bullets,” which explores the 1935 assassination of former Louisiana Gov. Huey Long.

The alleged assassin, the late Carl Weiss, is long remembered for his seemingly unassuming character, living in Louisiana as a successful doctor with a new family. Now, Boudreaux has taken the notorious killing into her own hands. This telling of the story is significantly important to Boudreaux, considering she is Weiss’ great-niece.

As the producer of “61 Bullets,” Boudreaux worked alongside her longtime film partner David Modigliani to find any and all facts in this checkered story. The inspiration for the film came during Boudreaux’s time in grade school, where she first learned about her ancestor who had long been hidden from conversation.

“In eighth grade Louisiana history, I found out that my great uncle supposedly shot Huey P. Long,” Boudreaux said.

Though the story of Long’s killing has been told and retold through film and television, “61 Bullets” addresses the life of both Weiss and Long by interviewing descendants from the men’s families. Boudreaux’s personal connection with the assassination allowed her to delve deep into a topic that was never spoken of among her family members

until now.

“There are these stories that exist that no one has heard yet,” Boudreaux said. “I wanted this collection of stories to be told collectively. I had access to my family … and we reached out to the Long family and were able to get some real good stories.”

Along with the accounts of her and Long’s family, Boudreaux consulted forensic experts and police officials who reopened the case in the 1990s. These resources came together well for Boudreaux, who found even further investigative means through the word-of-mouth channels of local citizens who have discussed the assassination for decades.

“Especially in Louisiana, you say, ‘Oh, my uncle knows somebody,’ or ‘My aunt knows somebody,’” Boudreaux said. “We just bounced around recommendations of someone the interviewee would tell us. That’s what we did for five years … interviewing anyone and everyone who had some kind of expertise on this event.”

Despite the 70 years of animosity that could have grown between the Long and Weiss families, the film’s focus on Weiss rather than the assassination itself eased any tension that could rise from the sensitive subject.

Boudreaux’s approach as a filmmaker instead of a relative made the interview process smoother and less pejorative. The filmmakers wanted to take any perceived judgment out of the process and maintain a search for facts about the people involved in the assassination.

Boudreaux cited a particular difficulty in obtaining subjects due to the event’s age. Since the assassination occurred nearly 70 years ago, many witnesses and ancestors have since died.

“It’s not heavy-handed,” Boudreaux said. “It’s a collection of stories. It’s not about who did it. It’s about the aftermath and the effect that this had on people.  It was very hard to make this documentary because most people that were alive when this happened are no longer with us. A lot of the evidence has been buried or is washed away.”

So far, “61 Bullets” has been screened in Austin, Texas, and New Orleans with apparent differences in reaction. With the assassination being common knowledge and often taught in history courses, Louisiana audiences received the film’s information with surprise to both the in-depth research and what Boudreaux and her partners uncovered.

For attendants in Texas, “61 Bullets” comes across as an emotional account from family members, including Carl Weiss, Jr., and the reverberation that the assassination caused throughout Louisiana.

“In Texas, the whole other response was more of a human, personal response because they’re meeting the son of an alleged assassin,” Boudreaux said. “For them, they thought that was really intense and fascinating. It’s so interesting to see this very different connection.”

“61 Bullets” is scheduled to play Sunday, Nov. 30, at the Shaw Center at 2 p.m. From there, Boudreaux hopes to have the documentary accepted by

Independent Lens from PBS.

(Courtesy of lsureveille.com)

ABC’s Nightline labels New Orleans new movie-making capital

In case ya missed it, New Orleans’ booming film industry took center stage on Wednesday’s Nightline.

The story was called why New Orleans is the “new” movie-making capital.

While the nation hears about success, the state wants economic data to see if all the productions are worth the tax breaks.

The Louisiana Film & Entertainment Association is spearheading a costly economic impact study hoping the data will prove to state leaders that film tax incentives are worth protecting.

Much of the $150,000 is already raised.

But more is needed to fund the study to protect tax credits that would “keep” New Orleans the movie-making capital.

The L.F.E.A still needs to raise money on kickstarter to move forward with the study.

(Courtesy of wgno.com)

Why New Orleans Is the New Moviemaking Capital

Dallas Buyers Club and 12 Years a Slave are two blockbuster films with something in common, and it’s not just their Oscar nods.

Both were shot not on set in a Hollywood studio, but on the streets of New Orleans.

Louisiana has recently earned a new reputation as “Hollywood South.” There are 14 films and TV shows currently in production in New Orleans, far out-pacing Hollywood, and A-listers including Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt and John Goodman all have homes here.

Currently, actors Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick are shooting their new movie Mr. Right in New Orleans.

“I am obsessed with [New Orleans] so far,” Kendrick said. “Just everything about it is — it’s so unique. There’s just absolutely no other place in the country like it.”

Mr. Right director Paco Cabezas couldn’t say enough about shooting the movie there.

“[We] wanted a movie that was full of life so that’s why we came here,” Cabezas said.

Of course, there’s no party like a New Orleans party — the music, the food, the beignets -– but those are not the main reasons movie producers are choosing the Big Easy and the Bayou State over old familiar shooting haunts like Los Angeles and New York.

“We were thinking about Puerto Rico at one point, Columbia, Toronto, Georgia, and the one big reason we ended up coming [to New Orleans] was the tax credit,” said producer Bradley Gallo.

Moviemakers get a 30-percent tax break from the state of Louisiana, compared with the 20-25 percent offered in California and base of 20 percent in Georgia.

“Every dollar they spend in the state to a Louisiana-based company gets 30 percent back from the state of Louisiana,” said the state’s Entertainment Bureau spokeswoman Katherine Williams. “If they hire local crews and vendors that’s an extra 5 percent [looking at 35-percent tax credit] for every dollar spent.”

Those movies included 21 Jump Street, its sequel 22 Jump Street, Django Unchained, and even Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, just to name a few.

For Louisiana, film and TV production here meant $813 million added to the local economy last year, according to Film New Orleans. For local technicians like Earl Woods, it meant a steady paycheck. Like so many in New Orleans, Woods said he was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina.

“When Katrina came, business was probably down six months before the movies started trickling back in,” Woods said. “I think the movie and film business helped rebuild the city financially a lot.”

And not only does filming in New Orleans provide jobs, it also helps young up-and-comers in the business earn more responsibility faster, like Mara LePere-Schoop. She works as a production designer, a title she said she might have had to wait another 10 years to earn in Hollywood.

“I’ve been very fortunate down here because it’s been so busy, had a lot of access to things I don’t think I would have necessarily had in L.A. or New York,” she said. “In some ways it was kind of a fast-track apprenticeship, where I got to do things that in other places wouldn’t have happened as quickly.”

Beyond the tax credit and job opportunities, many credit Brad Pitt and the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as a major turning point for the city. Benjamin Button was one of the first big movie productions in a post-Katrina New Orleans, and Pitt has become one of many celebrities who have given both their talents and time to rebuilding the Big Easy.

“Brad Pitt really fought to bring Curious Case of Benjamin Button back to New Orleans after the storm,” Williams said. “They had planned on shooting it here and after the storm the studio was leary… I think he knew what it would mean for the city to showcase that it was dry and not under water and open for business.”

(Courtesy of kmbz.com)

FBI investigates Louisiana film maker for tax credit abuse

Louisiana’s lucrative film tax credits have attracted Hollywood film makers to the state for more than a decade. Now the FBI is investigating a Baton Rouge man for trying to illegally cash in on the credits.

George Kostuch, 45, was named by two other men who pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges last year. The FBI said he was part of a plan to inflate production costs to garner excessive tax credits.

Kostuch has not been charged, nor has he had any business in the northwestern part of the state.

Louisiana’s film tax credits are among the oldest in the country—since 2002. However it’s not an easy program to get into.

“It’s the big carrot we dangle,” said Pam Glorioso, Bossier City film liaison. “We love our area. We love our locations, but if we didn’t have those tax credits, we’d have nothing to offer.”

Glorioso said at 30 percent, Louisiana offers the highest tax credit to production companies. That means for every dollar spent here making a movie, TV show or commercial, the company gets 30 cents back. But not every production gets money back from the state.

The project must be shot completely in louisiana, and cost at least $300,000. But the companies must still get approved.

“The application is done online through the state,” Glorioso said. “They have a $5,000 application fee that’s required by the state in order to qualify. So they don’t just cavalierly put in an application, they have to be serious about putting in the application.”

A prepared tax return must also be turned into the state which could take months to complete.

“Having an audit, accounting system that it comes into,” she said. “It’s audited by our accountants in the state of Louisiana. There’s lots of eyes looking at it so abuse would be pretty tough.”

It’s tough but not impossible.

The Louisiana legislature raised the tax credit from 25 to 30 percent in 2010. That year they also made sure the credits would never end without legislative action.

(Courtesy of ktbs.com)

Film on the life of Hank Williams Sr. to be released in 2015

An old two-story white house sits on a highway in Alabama; it looks to be in need of a fresh coat of paint, but the early 1900’s era home has potential.

The signs of autumn pepper the front yard with all the beautiful colors of orange, brown and yellow. The sun radiates through stately trees whispering as the breeze carries their fallen leaves along its path.

“Cut!” the director yells.

People scramble to get ready for the next scene as others wait to find out their next move.

The old two-story white house is the scene for a movie on a legendary country star. Except the house is in Minden, Louisiana, being used in a film about that legendary country star – Hank Williams Sr.

“I Saw the Light” is a biographical film that chronicles his rise to fame and ultimately the tragic effect it had on his health. The film stars Tom Hiddleston as Hank Sr., Elizabeth Olsen as Audrey Mae Williams (Hank’s first wife) and Maddie Hasson as Billie Jean (Hank’s second wife). Hank and Audrey had a son, the now famous Hank Williams Jr. He later had a daughter by girlfriend Bobbie Jett.

The film is directed by Marc Abraham.

Born Hiram King Williams, Hank rose to stardom at the tender age of 25 and died when he was 29. He was born in Mount Olive, Ala., in 1923, was small in stature and suffered from spina bifida, a debilitating birth defect in which the spine is literally split. According to the Spina Bifida Association, this split happens while the baby is still in the womb. The spinal column does not completely close.

Biographers indicate he suffered from alcoholism and was allegedly addicted to painkillers following a back injury.
Homeowners David and Ellen Parker, who live at 706 Lewisville Road, the home used in the film, said they are ecstatic about the experience.

“It’s an exciting experience,” David Parker said. “It’s interesting to see the whole process. You don’t realize what goes into it. Our son is in the industry, and now we really understand the relationships and the process.”
Slaid Parker, their son, lives in Shreveport.

Pattie Odom, economic/downtown development director for the City of Minden, said she’d worked with this particular scouting crew before, and they “are great.”

“This production company is very professional and very good at what they do,” she said. “It’s always good, and hopefully they spent some money in Minden. In the end, we’re getting ready to launch our (Northwest Louisiana Film Trail) for tourism. The more people that like Minden, the more we can draw to Minden.”

Lynn Dorsey, executive director of the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she is thrilled about portions of the movie being filmed in Webster Parish.

“We are thrilled to have our 26th film shot partially in Webster Parish to add to our Northwest Louisiana Film Trail,” she said. “We hope it will be a hit movie so it will bring more national and international recognition to Webster Parish.”

Several stars have come through Webster Parish including Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher when they filmed “The Guardian,” Sandra Bullock in “Premonition,” Katie Holmes, Denzel Washington, Jack Black and many others.
The Northwest Louisiana Film Trail comprises much of northwest Louisiana from Shreveport/Bossier City to Webster Parish.

(Courtesy of press-hearld.com)

International studio goes local for its next film

Upload Films, a film production and post-production company with numerous film credits to its name, plans on bringing something entirely new to Louisiana as it has several times in the past.

With offices in both Hong Kong and California, and a subsequently expanding global market with massive room for growth, the Baton Rouge sector of Upload Films will be making its own film, entitled “Showing Roots,” in Baton Rouge from Dec. 1-20. The film is expected to be released sometime next year.

“Showing Roots,” though under wraps for the most part as it is still undergoing pre-production, is generating a reasonable amount of hype for a film from a relatively new and smaller studio. This is partly due to the fact that it is the studio’s first true full-production feature film.

Williams couldn’t say much about the specific nature of the film, but said the story hits close to home, and he felt it would be something that would make a lot of people in the area feel the same way.

“It’s a story that right when I saw it, I knew it was something I’d always wanted to make but just couldn’t quite put my finger on it,” said local Upload Films producer Todd Williams.

Almost exclusively known for its work assisting other companies with the use of its post-production facilities on Brookline Avenue, this marks the first time Upload Films will be entirely producing their own feature film, from shooting to sound to promotion and everything in between.

“We’ll be contracting certain services out that we wouldn’t be able to provide otherwise, like professional casting directors and that sort of thing,” Williams said.

Williams, committed to showcasing fresh faces and upcoming talent in the industry, has an extensive background in producing films and has had several appear as full features as well as others still on television. Under his guidance, Upload Films has done production work for films like Quentin Tarantino’s “Man with the Iron Fists” and Oscar-winner Martin McDonagh’s “Seven Psychopaths.”

“‘Showing Roots’ is a big thing for us,” he said. “It’s something we’ve really looked forward to doing for some time.”

In addition to Louisiana’s well-known tax incentives given to filmmakers both local and foreign who choose to shoot in the area, Louisiana has been said by several local filmmakers to have a sort of ethereal quality about it that makes for great storytelling.

“Not only have there been great stories made here in Louisiana, but we feel like there’s still a lot more the state has to offer as well,” Williams said. “It’s a great place to make films and a lot of people are starting to see that.”

Resumes are still being accepted by the company, and they acknowledge the impact local hirings will have on the community and vice versa.

“We know the movie has a good chance to turn out well because there’s just a lot of great, great people in the film industry,” Williams said. “We’re really starting to live up to that ‘Hollywood South’ nickname I guess.”

(Courtesy of lsureveille.com)

Bobby Jindal to appear in movie with ex-’Hercules’ star Kevin Sorbo

Restore America Rally

Gov. Bobby Jindal will be in at least one scene of a movie about human trafficking starring Kevin Sorbo, an actor best know for playing Hercules in the television show of the same name, according to the governor’s office.

In addition to acting, Sorbo is an outspoken Christian and conservative who frequently criticizes President Barack Obama. His anti-human trafficking movie, call “Caged”, is currently being filmed in Baton Rouge. The governor’s staff said they couldn’t disclose much about Jindal’s cameo on screen because of a confidentiality agreement.

Jindal has focused on curbing human trafficking while in elected office. Last spring, the governor introduced anti-human trafficking bills as part of his legislative package. He signed four laws aimed at stopping the human slave trade in Louisiana last June.

Jindal also appeared in an episode of “Duck Dynasty” earlier this year, alongside the Robertson family, who are outspoken Christian television stars. The episode centered around Jindal given the Robertsons at statewide Louisiana business award.

(Courtesy of nola.com)

Letters and words take flight in Louisiana studio’s 2nd Oscar shortlisted animated short film

Children’s author William Joyce saw the restored Fritz Lang silent movie “Metropolis” and wanted to make something like it for kids. That story, “The Numberlys,” has him in the running for his second Oscar in three years.

He mulled the idea over for some time: “I would love to bring that kind of grandeur to a children’s story — but what in hell would it be?”

After all, Lang’s 1927 opus is a tale of capitalist oppression, class conflict and romance: Not what most people would consider picture-book fodder.

Letters brought the idea to life for Joyce, whose Moonbot Studios in Shreveport won the 2012 Oscar for animated short movies with “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” and two daytime Emmys this year for a YouTube video commissioned by Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Over lunch one day, he thought, “What if you only had numbers and didn’t have the alphabet?”

“I do my best work on napkins,” he said Friday in a telephone interview from Shreveport. “I doodled up the designs of the five little numberlys and away we went.”

He turned Lang’s regimented dystopia into a black-and-white world where numberlys — little humanoids identified only by numerals on their chests — march in lockstep to a factory to make giant numbers. Five dissatisfied friends, named 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, deconstruct and reconstruct numbers to make something different.

Their all-capitals alphabet takes color and flight. Letters float from the factory, assembling in midair to create words. The first is “JELLYBEANS.” Jelly beans rain down, bringing color and laughter. People get names and dance with joy.

Joyce and co-director Brandon Oldenburg turned traditional movie formatting on end to fit their art deco skyscrapers and floating letters.

“We had a really hard time getting our compositions into the horizontal format that movies are,” Joyce said.

One day a pen fell out of a storyboard “and the storyboard kind of just turned and went from horizontal to vertical,” Joyce said Friday. “It was like a ‘Eureka!’ moment. … So ‘The Numberlys’ is actually a tall short film.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced semifinalists Tuesday. “The Numberlys” is among 10 contenders for best animated short. Winners will be announced in February.

Like “Lessmore,” the new movie is accompanied by a book and a storytelling app. Both books were created first but showed up in public last.

“Once we’ve finished an app or a short you push a button and it’s out there. Publishing takes about a year to get the publishing lined up and the distribution lined up,” said Joyce, who wrote the book and illustrated it with Christina Ellis.

The vertical illustrations span two pages, requiring readers to turn the book sideways to look at them. Editors at Atheneum Books for Young Readers were concerned, Joyce said, asking, “Will children know how to read this book?”

Apparently they have, Joyce said: The book, published in May at $17.99, is selling well.

The $5.99 app is also selling well, Joyce said.

People who make short films “never expect to make your money back,” he said, but the combination of movie, book and app can change that.

He saw this with “Lessmore.”

“The app went viral, paying for itself and for the short film,” Joyce said. “And the book came out and it’s still selling incredibly well.”

(Courtesy of dailyjournal.net)

FBI widens La. film tax credit probe

Advocate Staff Photo by Heather McClelland Shot 11/21/08 trax#00014780a George Kostuch is one of two producers for the locally filmed movie,
Advocate Staff Photo by Heather McClelland Shot 11/21/08 trax#00014780a George Kostuch is one of two producers for the locally filmed movie, “Anytown.”

The FBI has expanded its investigation of fraud in Louisiana’s film tax credit program, scrutinizing a Baton Rouge producer suspected of playing a role in a scheme to bilk the state by reporting inflated production costs.

The producer, George M. Kostuch, founder of K2 Pictures, appears to have been implicated by two filmmakers who pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud charges last year and have cooperated with the FBI. Kostuch has not been charged.

In a case that illustrates the ways in which the tax credit program can be gamed, the convicted filmmakers, Matthew Keith and Daniel Garcia, have outlined for the authorities a web of deceit in which accounting records were falsified to make overstated movie expenses appear legitimate when scrutinized by an independent auditor and the Louisiana Department of Economic Development.

(Courtesy of bayoubuzz.com)