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Is New Orleans Film Industry the True Hollywood South?

The New Orleans Film Industry has come a long way since Katrina hosting Hollywood and homegrown talent

The New Orleans film industry has come a long way in a few short years. Although there was a lot of activity before Katrina it seems that since the hurricane things have been ratchet up.

The state of Louisiana offers great tax incentives for film folks to come and work.

With the added benefit of the city itself, the great architecture, the food and history and the wonderful way folks here are treated with world-renowned hospitality Hollywood just can’t seem to get enough of New Orleans.

You know that we’ve made it when we started producing our own home-grown talent as directors and producers. Now films shot in New Orleans are being made by people from New Orleans.

That is a huge step in my view to making our film industry not dependent on outside producers for now we can make our own films here ourselves. What we are doing is making alternatives to Hollywood films.

New Orleans Film Industry and Hollywood South

Southern Comfort Bed and Breakfast shares this view:

For example, Jeff, Who Lives at Home opened this past weekend nationally.   Directed by a pair of New Orleans brothers, products of Jesuit High School, and filmed mostly in Metairie (to look like Baton Rouge!), the movie has received great reviews.   It’s the latest in a series of several features by Jay and Mark Duplass, who wrote, directed and produced Cyrus and Baghead before Jeff, Who Lives at Home.  The movie, about a 30-year old slacker who lives in his mom (Susan Sarandon)’s basement in Baton Rouge , is acclaimed as a mature piece of filmmaking.

Another very successful indie movie is Beasts of the Southern Wild, which just won the Grand Jury Award and Excellence in Cinematography Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.  Benh Zeitlin directed that film; he’s part of a collective group of independent filmmakers called Court 13 who began as students together and are based in New Orleans. Although Zeitlin hails from Queens, New York and went to college at Wesleyan, he came to New Orleans post-Katrina, like so many creative young people who have enriched the city’s cultural life.

Beasts employ nonactors to tell a magical realist story filmed and set in a poverty-stricken town in Louisiana’s Bayou Country.   Its heroine, a young girl called Hushpuppy, undertakes a mythical journey in search of her mother, battling prehistoric creatures unleashed by environmental changes.  The New York Times called the film one of the best to be screened at Sundance in over two decades. Searchlight purchased U.S. rights to the drama during the festival for nearly $1 million, and it will be released on a limited platform on June 29, 2012.

Louisiana has had an unfortunate reputation in the past for corruption and mismanagement, and some folks around the country think us folks in the south perhaps may be living in the dark ages. But things have been changing a lot since Katrina. The old ways of doing things and the ‘good ole boy network’ don’t work any more.

Whatever politician up in Baton Rouge had the idea of creating these tax incentives was brilliant and should be given some kind of Medal of Honor. Louisiana and New Orleans is now becoming the place to be for making great movies. The New Orleans film industry is showing to the world the uniqueness of our culture and shining a light on the beauty of our city inside and out.

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Posted in Louisiana, New Orleans Art, New Orleans Life, New Orleans News.

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