Saturday, December 31, 2011

FilmingLouisiana Films for January 2012

 2011 was a great year with over 100 films being produced in Louisiana earning it the top spot to film in America.  2012 will be no different.  With a 100 million dollar Tom Cruise movie coming as well as Tom Hanks, and Tarentino films in the works, 2012 will be huge year for Louisiana with no end in sight.  Congratulations Louisiana on making Film Production in Louisiana the best in America.
Christopher Moore

Gettaway Baton Rouge.
Cutter, Baton Rouge.
Django Unchained, New Orleans. or
Ender's Game New Orleans.
The Host Baton Rouge and New Orleans.  or fax resumes to 225.952.9030.
Now You See Me  New Orleans.
MaerskAlabama (A CAPTAIN’S DUTY)  New Orleans.
Rugaru New Roads, Greensburg, and Maurepas.
Synergy Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Horizons Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Breakout Kings (SEASON 2)  Baton Rouge.
Broken City  New Orleans.
Common Law CBS New Orleans. or fax resumes to 504.731.3588. 
Dog Fight (AKA SOUTHERN RIVALS) New Orleans.
The Iceman  Shreveport.
King Dog  Baton Rouge
Schism  New Orleans.
Snitch Shreveport.
Treme (SEASON 3) HBO’s television series Treme (Season 3)  New Orleans. .
Zomie Plantation  St. Amant/Gonzales
Kane & Lynch Louisiana

Pitch Baton Rouge,
Thicker Lousisiana
Hemlock Drive Louisiana
Tarantula New Orleans
Silver Cord Louisiana
The Summoning Baton Rouge
Asleep at the Wheel New Orleans
Hysteria Louisiana
Room and Board New Orleans
72 Hours New Orleans
I Walked with a Zombie New Orleans
Unraveled Baton Rouge
Playing with the Enemy Shreveport
The Boys Club Folsum
Some Stars Fall New Orleans
Dead Serious New Orleans
Verdigris New Orleans
Moments of Life New Orleans

Louisiana # 1: Top 10: United States of Production

As runaway production took a toll on the U.S. in the 1990s, the country fought back by introducing its own competitive incentives. By 2010, 46 U.S. states and territories had introduced individual tax credit and rebate programs and saw an estimated $60 billion in television, movie and video production revenue. Once a year, P3 Update lists 10 states in the nation that offer the most attractive combination of tax incentives, crew base, talent pool, infrastructure, accessibility, significant production revenue and overall popularity among filmmakers.


Louisiana was the first state on the scene to adopt tax incentives, which sparked a trend across America. More and more filmmakers are now heading to Louisiana where business has been booming. “I’m thinking of moving down there myself,” declares Filmmaker Ron Carr. “The state has a good film base and a lot of stages.”

The state currently offers motion-picture productions a 30-percent transferable credit on total in-state expenditures, with no cap and a minimum-spending requirement of $300,000. For productions using in-state labor, Louisiana offers an additional 5-percent labor-tax credit on the payroll of employed residents. Louisiana is currently nine to ten crews deep, a nearly 400 percent increase since 2002. “We have seen a 22-percent growth in the industry’s workforce each year,” says Louisiana Entertainment Film Director Chris Stelly. “In addition, our infrastructure continues to mature at an exponential rate and a film of any size can spend 80 to 90 percent of their budget in Louisiana. We offer basically everything a production could want or need ─ from processing to trucks, as well as stages, to high-end visual effects.”

According to Stelly, after a big 2008–09 fiscal year, when the state saw $494 million in production, fiscal year 2009–10 drew $674.1 million in direct spend thanks to over 100 productions. Big-budget features like The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Battleship, Green Lantern and Battle: Los Angeles have kept Louisiana busy. And, as of May 2011, the state had received 41 applications, which is comparable to 44 applications received at this time last year.

Stelly says that the state’s productions are usually comprised of feature films, such as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and 21 Jump Street, but also include top TV series, most notably HBO’s “Treme” and season two of “Memphis Beat.”

In addition to the southern hospitality, Louisiana’s success is largely due to the state’s ability to attract repeat business with its attractive incentive programs, deep crew base and abundance of studio facilities. “We have established both stability and credibility,” says Stelly, “and our incentive program is easy to maneuver. All of this keeps production coming back.”


Illinois’ five-deep crew base is only one of the reasons the state was added to the P3’s top-10 roster. It’s a good thing because productions have flooded the Prairie State in recent years — and they keep coming back.

The Illinois Film Office reports that the state saw $161 million in spending in 2010 — a 54-percent increase from 2009 — and over 8,000 production jobs. This activity comes in light of an already successful year, during which Illinois hosted big-name productions like Contagion (starring Matt Damon and Kate Winslet), Transformers: Dark of the Moon and The Dilemma. In 2010, Chicago alone saw six TV pilots, including Fox’s “The Chicago Code” and Showtime’s “Shameless.” In 2011, several TV pilots shot throughout the state, including NBC’s “The Playboy Club” and CW’s “Cooper and Stone.” Currently, the state is hosting more TV pilots, including “Boss” (starring Kelsey Grammer), and Zack Snyder’s big-budget feature Superman: Man of Steel is slated to begin filming in Illinois this summer.

The state’s incentive program includes a 30-percent tax credit on all qualified local expenditure, including postproduction. An additional 15 percent is available on salaries for individuals living in an economically disadvantaged area. Unfortunately, the state’s tax credit applies only to wages of up to $100,000 and excludes nonresidents. In late March, there was a possibility that the state would introduce a five year sunset clause to its incentive program, but last-minute political maneuvering succeeded in extending this to ten years — effectively saving the program until 2021.

Finally, Illinois’ infrastructure is rapidly developing. In May, the city celebrated the opening of Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, which, when fully built, will hold 1.2 million square feet of space.


For a long time, Florida boasted having one of the largest production-crew bases in the country, but, according to Communications Coordinator Colleen McClure of the Florida Governor’s Office of Film and Entertainment, the state has fallen in rank in recent years. This was partly due to a growing number of competitive domestic incentive packages and crewmembers moving to Louisiana when its production increased.

But the Sunshine State is fighting fire with fire to become an incredibly strong contender. With the recent passage of its Film & Entertainment Industry Financial Incentive Program — which offers $242 million in transferable tax credits over five years — Florida is seeing its crew base restored as production grows. This is bolstered by a robust incentive package that includes a 20-percent base transferable-tax credit for total expenditures associated with Florida businesses and resident wages. Combining additional bonus opportunities, including “Family-Friendly” and “Off-Season” perks, can increase the credits up to 30 percent of the total Florida spend. The savings continue for qualified productions that receive sales-and-use tax exemptions on the purchase or lease of certain items used in filming.

Recent Florida productions include Transformers: Dark of the Moon, A&E’s “The Glades” and season four of USA Network’s “Burn Notice.” McClure reports that production revenue for fiscal year 2010 sat at $760,722, 482, and, as of May 2011, the amount was $981,059,895 for fiscal year 2011. These numbers don’t lie: The heat is definitely on in Florida.


Since 2008, Georgia has offered a transferable flat-tax credit of 20 percent on qualified in-state “base investment” for qualifying productions spending a minimum of $500,000. In addition, there’s the possibility to receive another 10 percent if production activities include a “qualified Georgia promotion,” which is a promotional logo in the production. If this 30-percent total transferable-tax credit hasn’t substantially cut costs, a qualified production can enjoy the state’s Sales & Use Tax Exemption, which is a point-of-purchase exemption on sales tax that can help save as much as 8 percent on equipment purchases and rentals.

Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office Director Lee Thomas praises the program for helping to boost production in the state. More than 274 productions shot in the Peach State from July 2010 through April 2011 to bring in more than $589.2 million in Georgia investments. These projects have generated an economic impact of $2.1 billion. In 2010, the state saw the filming of motion pictures like Footloose, Wanderlust, The Change-Up and Fast Five. Currently, American Pie 4 Presents: Family Reunion, the Farrelly brothers’ The Three Stooges and the hit AMC series “The Walking Dead” are shooting in Georgia.

Georgia’s film-industry infrastructure is undergoing serious growth as well. The state recently saw the opening of a Panavision in Atlanta, while the well-known Turner Studios holds six purpose-built studios with five HD control rooms. Raleigh Studios Atlanta is spread over 120 acres and holds four stages, while EUE/Screen Gems has taken over the old Lakewood Fairgrounds in Atlanta and just completed a 37,500-square-foot soundstage.

What else makes Georgia one of the country’s best places to shoot? Thomas reports that Georgia’s crew base, once around two to two-and-ahalf deep, has grown to around six to seven deep. “[We have] crew depth combined with the infrastructure, temperate climate, the world’s busiest airport, great incentives, diverse locations and a great quality of life,” explains Thomas.


According to California Film Commission Director Amy Lemisch, the Golden State hosts nearly 200 feature films every year along with countless TV series, commercials and documentaries. “California has moderate weather with 315 sunny days per year coupled with the deepest and most talented labor pool in the world,” boasts Lemisch. “In addition, the state offers over 500 stages and the most advanced and diverse range of postproduction facilities found anywhere.”

Lemisch celebrates the California Film & TV Tax Credit Program, which provides a nonrefundable tax credit of 20 to 25 percent for eligible feature films with budgets between $1 million and $75 million; and TV series, TV movies and miniseries with an appropriation of $100 million per year for five years through 2014. Independent features under $10 million are eligible to receive 25 percent and may transfer their credits. Credit is applied to below-theline spend, including postproduction and visual effects.

International Location Manager Bill Bowling will be the first to tell you that California, once again, has become a top-10 contender. “We’re seeing a stronger interest in keeping production in California [now more] than ever, which has led to a big upswing in the state’s popularity,” explains Bowling. He attributes this increase to the savings made by working at home versus extensive traveling in addition to the states successful incentive package.

California offers assistance from numerous film offices throughout the entire state. “Filmmakers work closely with our network of 50-plus regional film offices taking advantage of the diverse landscape of California,” says Lemisch. Placer-Lake Tahoe Film Office Director Beverly Lewis takes pride in what the northern part of the state has to offer. “I am very aware that the California incentives made the difference when it came time for [productions] to select locations, and the local spend is welcomed back,” she says. Since then, qualified productions like HBO Films’ Cinema Verite, Jackass 3D and Disney’s upcoming fall release The Muppets have filmed in her area. Other recent productions shot throughout California include David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, HBO’s “Entourage” and the new ABC series “Scandal.”


Connecticut’s current tax credit of up to 30 percent is still going strong. To qualify, 50 percent of principal photography or 50 percent of post must be done in the state, or at least $1 million in postproduction expenditures must be in-state. The tax credits for film and digital animation are tiered based on local spend from 10 to 30 percent. The credit is 10 percent for expenditures between $100,000 and $500,000, and there’s a 15-percent credit for expenditures between $500,000 and $1 million. The credit is 30 percent for anything above $1 million.

The big news out of the Constitution State is the recent release of Blue Sky Studios’ first animated feature made entirely in Connecticut. On the smaller screen, Showtime’s “The Big C” has returned to shoot its second season, as has “Are We There Yet?” for TBS. Other noteworthy productions include feature films like We the Peeples and We Need to Talk About Kevin, starring John C. Reilly and Tilda Swinton. “Our incentive program has been successful in bringing significant production and infrastructure expenditures to the state, with over $200 million in spending in 2010,” says George Norfleet, director of the Connecticut Office of Film, Television & Digital Media. “And we expect to exceed that number in 2011.”

The small state of Connecticut packs a big punch in the category of infrastructure, largely thanks to the fact that it shares a crew base with New York. The N.Y. IATSE Local 52 has over 3,400 members and includes Connecticut within its five-state jurisdiction. Moreover, the state has at least seven great studios, including Sonalysts, Connecticut Film Center, Sono Studios and Palace Digital Studios. And Norfleet reports that CT Studios plans to begin construction on a multistage facility in 2011.


The Empire State and especially the city of New York know a thing or two about television and film production. According to the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment Commissioner Katherine Oliver, more than 100,000 New York City citizens work in the industry while the city houses over 4,000 local ancillary businesses — everything from digital effects companies to prop houses — playing a supporting role for filming in the city.

In all, New York has more than 100 production facilities, stages and video studios throughout its boroughs, amounting to around 900,000 square feet of stage space. All this capacity helps to bring about $5 billion worth of production to the city’s economy annually. Despite its global recognition, the state, like any other, still has to offer productions a good deal.

It currently offers eligible productions an up-to-35-percent fully refundable tax credit. And there’s plenty of money to go around, as the program holds about $420 million a year up until 2014.

Just last June, Oliver and Mayor Bloomberg hosted the sixth annual “Made in NY” Awards to honor those who have helped contribute to the city’s burgeoning entertainment industry. And these awards are well deserved: In 2010, over 230 feature films and primetime TV series were shot in New York City.


The Beehive State has been busy and it looks like it might get busier — Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert signed groundbreaking tax-credit legislation in May for the state’s film industry, effectively increasing the tax rebate from 20 to 25 percent. The program has no sunset provision and requires a minimum of $1 million in-state spend. The legislature also approved an ongoing tax-credit fund of $6.8 million. “[The incentive] will enable us to position Utah and its talented motion-picture and digital-media work force to compete on a global basis for the film and digital-media industries,” announced Herbert. Since the fund was created in 2004, 65 film projects have already received funding.

According to Utah Film Commission Director Marshall Moore, a total of 19 productions took advantage of the incentive in fiscal year 2010, producing 1,188 production jobs and accounting for 502 production days. For fiscal year 2011 (as of May 2011), the state has about 14 productions taking advantage of incentives, accounting for 431 production days. Utah is currently three “A” crews deep and offers an excellent, constantly growing infrastructure that includes studios like Stone 5 Studios in Provo and Metcom and Salt Lake Studios in Salt Lake City. With so much happening, along with a political establishment that’s very supportive of the industry, Utah is now the state to watch in 2012.

Director Danny Boyle’s Academy Award nominated 127 Hours took advantage of the fund in 2010 as the production filmed on location in Moab and on stages in Salt Lake City. And Walt Disney Pictures’ John Carter filmed for 45 days across Utah, specifically in Delta, Hanksville, Kanab, Moab and Big Water.


New Mexico is well known for titanic production houses like Albuquerque Studios, I-25 Studios, Garson Studios and Santa Fe Studios (the latter set to open in August 2011). “These are great stages [and] definitely one of the most popular reasons for shooting in the state,” says Location Manager Bill Bowling. The Land of Enchantment is home to approximately 20 stages ranging in size from 2,000 to 48,000 square feet. The state offers an enticing incentive package as well. Qualified productions can receive a 25-percent tax rebate on all direct expenditure. In addition, New Mexico has a Film Investment Loan Program as well as a Film Crew Advancement Program that offers a 50-percent wage reimbursement for on-the-job training.

Things weren’t looking great for the state in March when New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez targeted the incentive program with cuts, ideally wanting the rebate to be decreased to 15 percent. In the end, however, the state senate voted to keep the 25-percent rebate intact. And, according to New Mexico Film Office Deputy Director Jennifer Schwalenberg, an annual cap was placed. “[They] placed a ‘rolling cap’ of $50 million per fiscal year,” she says. Governor Martinez would do well to understand how important television and film production has become for New Mexico in recent years, as the state has hosted numerous big-budget features, such as Cowboys & Aliens, Fright Night and Thor, as well as AMC’s Emmy-winning series “Breaking Bad.”


Just based on numbers alone, Michigan is in a league of its own. Productions can receive a tax credit of up to 42 percent of qualifying direct production expenditures in “core communities,” which include 136 locations throughout the state. (The figure is 40 percent in other locations.) The massive incentive program requires a minimum in-state spend of $50,000, and there’s a $2 million salary cap per employee on each production.

According to Michigan Film Office Communications Advisor Michelle Begnoche, the state’s budget has passed and is on Governor Rick Snyder’s desk. He is expected to sign the bill, which would set next year’s funding for new projects at $25 million. “Prior to the fiscal year 2012 budget, we had no annual allocation from the legislature,” explains Begnoche. “The incentive is also no longer a tax credit; rather it is an allocation that will not be tied to the state’s business-tax structure. While we now have clarity on what our funding level will be, work is still being done to determine how best to administer the incentives within this new framework.”

According to Chris Baum, Film Detroit Senior VP and Government Relations Chair of Michigan Film First, a group of the state’s largest film and TV industry stakeholders is working with key legislators to revise the incentive program further. “Michigan Film First has hired the top lobbyists in Lansing to help key supporters in the legislature draft a new bill that will adjust the incentive and raise the cap, allowing us to sustain our terrific moment from the last three years,” Baum explains. Last year, the Detroit area welcomed the HBO series “Hung” and ABC’s “Detroit 1-8-7” as well as many feature films, including Real Steel, The Double, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, Salvation Boulevard, Machine Gun Preacher and Scream 4.

The Wolverine State has been working hard to build up the infrastructure needed to increase production. Perhaps the best example of the changes taking place is Raleigh Michigan Studios. Located on the grounds of the former GM Centerpoint truck plant and office complex in Pontiac, the new $80 million film studio is comprised of seven crisp soundstages and over 360,000 square feet of office space. The studio is already hosting the preproduction of Disney’s The Wizard of Oz prequel Oz: The Great and Powerful, which will receive approximately $40 million in incentives and is set to be one of the largest features to ever shoot in the state.

When you look at the big picture, you can see how big of a role the industry plays in each state’s economy. And film office representatives are pressured to show a positive ROI on incentives, so these programs fluctuate from time-to time. High incentives and a deep crew base are only two portions of the total package needed for states to make P3’s annual list of top-10 U.S. locations, an informative guide that filmmakers worldwide can rely on.

Story from:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Productions for October 2011 Filming Louisiana by Christopher Moore

Kane & Lynch Louisiana
Breakout Kings New Orleans,
Broken City New Orleans,
Dogfight (aka Southern Rivals) New Orleans,
The East Shreveport,
King Dog Baton Rouge,
Pitch Baton Rouge,
Snitch Shreveport,
Treme New Orleans,
Zombie Plantation St. Amant/Gonzales
Caged Shreveport,
Common Law  New Orleans,
G I Joe 2 New Orleans,
Thicker Lousisiana
Hemlock Drive Louisiana
Tarantula New Orleans
Silver Cord Louisiana
The Summoning Baton Rouge
Asleep at the Wheel New Orleans
Hysteria Louisiana
Room and Board New Orleans
72 Hours New Orleans
I Walked with a Zombie New Orleans
Unraveled Baton Rouge
Playing with the Enemy Shreveport
The Boys Club Folsum
Some Stars Fall New Orleans
Dead Serious New Orleans
Verdigris New Orleans
Moments of Life New Orleans

The Big Fix Opens 22nd Annual New Orleans Film Festival Friday October 14th

The Sundance Award Winning Filmmakers behind the movie FUEL will screen "the greatest uncover-up movie" of the decade when The Big Fix receives its North American premiere as the Opening night Film of the 22nd Annual New Orleans Film Festival. Directed by Louisiana native Josh Tickell and produced and co-directed by his wife and filmmaking partner Rebecca Harrell Tickell, The Big Fix is part daring journalism, archival investigation and eco-horror story. See
Through interviews with scientists, government officials, journalists (including Rolling Stone's Jeff Goodell who examined the Gulf spill in his article 'The Poisoning'), activists (Peter Fonda, Amy Smart and Grammy-winner Jason Mraz who also contributed an original song), New Orleans attorney Stuart Smith and Gulf States natives, The Big Fix recounts the events surrounding the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The Big Fix reveals the powerful political and corporate system that put profits over the health and long-term sustainability of people and the environment.
The Big Fix explores the complicit behavior of the US government in the long-term use of the chemical dispersant, Corexit 9527, a known hemolitic (blood thinner). In an unexpected twist of fate, Co-Director/Producer Rebecca Harrell Tickell became severely ill after being exposed to the oil and Corexit mixture while filming. Like many of the residents of the gulf south who have experienced blood in their urine, skin lesions, and other blood-related disorders, Harrell Tickell's condition persists.
A rough cut of The Big Fix received critical acclaim this year as the only documentary in Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival. European audiences were stunned to see evidence suggesting the Macondo well site is still leaking oil. Now LSU and other researchers confirm it.
Contact: Ray Costa Costa Communications (323) 650-3588

New Orleans Film Fest: Jolene Pinder (504) 309-6633

Also: C. Brylski/H. Harper (504) 897-6110 or (504) 289-0499

SOURCE Attorney Stuart Smith

Thursday, September 1, 2011

'Shark Night 3D' features uncomfortably toothy effects

By Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES – Actress Sara Paxton was fine about shooting her scenes with an animatronic great white for Shark Night 3D.

By Steve Dietl, Relativity Media

Dodge maul: Sara Paxton tries to avoid a predator in Shark Night 3D, which features animatronic sharks that are a far cry from Jaws.
Dodge maul: Sara Paxton tries to avoid a predator in Shark Night 3D, which features animatronic sharks that are a far cry from Jaws.
That is, until she ran into the injured onset publicity photographer.
"He was bleeding everywhere, on both legs," Paxton recalls.
"I was like, 'Dude, what happened? Did you fall off the boat?' He told me that the shark bit him."
Yes, the shark with whom Paxton was soon sharing a scene. She recalls director David Ellis' voice being piped underwater, urging her to get closer to her well-toothed co-star.
"I was so scared," Paxton says. "I was like, 'This shark is literally going to rip my throat out.' It was so close to me. I prayed, 'Please, God, do not let me die today.' Fake shark. Not a good way to go."
Steven Spielberg's 1975 shark classic, Jaws, might have made it feel unsafe to go into the water. But technological advances in the animatronic world have made the screen creatures so terrifying — complete with a full set of actual shark teeth for the first time — that filming alongside them can lead to real-life panic.
Dustin Milligan fights two robotic sharks in Shark Night, which opens Friday and gorily portrays a shark invasion into a Louisiana saltwater lake.
He admits that the terrified look he frequently has on-screen isn't acting.
"These sharks are really, really scary. And the real shark teeth?" he says, shaking off the image. "Totally unnecessary, if you ask me."
Oscar-winning special-effects guru Walt Conti has pushed the technology of these creatures into a new realm with films such as Free Willy and Deep Blue Sea.
They're so lifelike, precautions are necessary to protect the people who work with them, he says.
"They're just as powerful as real sharks," Conti says.
The photographer in question simply got too close while the creature was thrashing about.
"He got nicked a little bit," Conti says, adding that a few others got "body slammed" by the shark's tail when they weren't respecting the machine's personal space.
"You have to remember, these are not stuffed animals," Conti says.
Although Jaws might forever reign at the top of the shark movie heap, its famously glitch-prone film sharks are almost prototypes for the free-swimming, fully mobile creatures of today.
"It all started with Jaws 35 years ago," says Conti, who calls the work "revolutionary."
"But it really is a Model T to Ferrari comparison. Ours are as highly tuned and powerful as a Ferrari."
Driving machines that bite.
"But there were only kills on-screen," Conti says with a laugh. "No humans were killed in the making of this film."
You're gonna need a bigger screen . . .
Shark Night 3D brings three animatronic bad boys to the screen:
Swimming great white: This remote-control creature was built to show the shark's swimming skills and signature snap turns, with titanium bones and skeleton for balance. It appears in the scene just before a great shark battle. It has the teeth, but it's a movement specialist. "This is the setup shark," says the movie's animatronic effects supervisor, Walt Conti. "He's all grace. The big challenge is getting him to swim just right."
Hammerhead: Hammerhead teeth are difficult to find. This set came from a private Australian collector and the 13-foot shark was built to scale. The shark required three people at the controls for its shallow-water fight scene: one each for the tail, the head and the body. "That shark can do some damage," says Sinqua Walls, the actor who fights the beast. "I cut my hands tussling with it. I didn't even want to get close to the teeth."
Attack great white: The big baddie of the film is seen in an attack scene featuring Paxton. Conti found the perfect set of teeth from the California Academy of Sciences natural history museum. "It was a pristine set from the 1970s," he says. "They could open about 18 inches, enough to get around someone's torso." (The teeth are on full display in the movie's early trailer.) The 12-foot, 1,000-pound beast required two remote handlers when fighting. Its best feature: the complicated, subtle jaw action in every bite. Says Conti, "It's state-of-the-art chomping power."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Leatherface 3D, Shreveport LA

Kane & Lynch, Shreveport, LA

Freelancers, New Orleans, LA

Fire with Fire, New Orleans LA or fax to 504.525.8380

The Third Act, Alexandria LA

The Paper Boy, New Orleans LA

Parker aka Flash Fire, New Orleans LA

Dirt Road, Lafayette LA.

21 Jump Street, New Orleans LA

Billy the Exterminator Season 4, Shreveport LA

Dark Tales of El Diablo, West Monroe LA  or fax to 504.324.0658.

Sons of Guns Season 2, Baton Rouge LA

No One Lives New Orleans LA,

The Stuart House Recordings New Orleans LA

The Baytown Disco, Slidell LA

Headshot, New Orleans LA
The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

The Loft, New Orleans
Freelancers, LA
Universal Soldier, A New Dimension, Baton Rouge

Thicker, Louisiana

Silver Cord, New Orleans

Tarantula, New Orleans

Downers Grove, Louisiana

Asleep at the Wheel, New Orleans

72 Hours, New Orleans

Room and Board, New Orleans

No One Lives, New Orleans

The Summoning, Baton Rouge

One Small Life, New Orleans

Dirty Movie II: The Student Film New Orleans

Playing with the Enemy, Shreveport LA

Unraveled, Baton Rouge

Substance, Matairie LA

Carmilla: The Homecoming Louisiana

The Boys Club Folsom LA

Extraordinary, Baton Rouge

Verdigris, New Orleans

Moments of Life, New Orleans

Lay the Favorite, New Orleans LA

Treme Season 2, New Orleans, LA

Cogan's Trade, New Orleans LA

Alien Tornado Lafayette LA

Memphis Beat Season 2 New OrleansLA, LaPlace

Dark Circles, Baton Rouge LA

Stash House Baton Rouge LA fax resumes to 225.757.6258 with attention to STASH PRODUCTIONS.

Chris Stelly Named Louisiana Entertainment Interim Executive Director

By Louisiana Entertainment

Chris Stelly Named Louisiana Entertainment Interim Executive Director

Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret has named Christopher Stelly, Interim Executive Director of the Office of Entertainment Industry Development also known as Louisiana Entertainment, effective immediately upon Sherri McConnell’s resignation.

Over the last four years, Stelly has served as the Director of Film and TV where he has overseen exponential growth in the state’s film incentive program, developing it into a productive, credible and stable engine for Louisiana’s entertainment industry. When Stelly joined the department in 2004, Louisiana’s motion picture tax incentive program saw fewer than 35 applications a year. In 2010 alone, Stelly oversaw 141 incentive applications, with more than 100 productions underway in the state that year. Based on numbers of applications, the program is already predicted to outpace 2010 this year. In addition to administering Louisiana’s progressive and innovative tax credit program, he has become an invaluable technical asset to entertainment companies seeking to produce and to establish new businesses in the state.

A native Louisianan, Stelly is a dedicated supporter of the state’s continuously growing role in the global entertainment economy.


Sherri McConnell, Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director, Leaving Post

After more than four years of working as LED’s Executive Director of the Office of Entertainment Industry Development, Sherri McConnell is leaving the post effective July 1.

Under McConnell's leadership, the industry has flourished, experiencing its fifth consecutive year of double digit growth. The office's holistic approach, supported by innovative programs and marketing efforts, has driven the development of an industry that creates over $1 billion of economic impact annually. In addition, McConnell spearheaded the development of a comprehensive, long-range strategic plan that has become the roadmap for the development of a sustainable entertainment economy in Louisiana (Building a Permanent Entertainment Economy). Today, Louisiana's entertainment programs are recognized as the gold standard in the industry and have been emulated by 40 other states nationwide.

Upon her departure from Louisiana Entertainment, and after some well deserved time off, Sherri McConnell will return to private consulting with a focus on creative industry development. Mac and Associates Consulting will launch at the end of the month. Sherri can be reached at

Monday, May 2, 2011

That’s entertainment by By Jeff Roedel

Sherri McConnell helped the state film program overcome the scandal of her predecessor Mark Smith pleading guilty to taking bribes.

In the three years since an investigation into her predecessor’s malfeasance dragged her staff in front of a grand jury to explain the state’s tax credit program, Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Sherri McConnell has turned the office into a dependable and well-respected generator for hundreds of millions of dollars in direct investment in the state from multiple creative industries.
McConnell is working to mature Louisiana Entertainment into a globally-respected brand like Campbell’s Soup or Coca-Cola, assembling easily recognizable products—the results of companies using Louisiana Economic Development’s progressive incentive programs to produce film, music, digital interactive and live performance projects within the state. If she has her way, soon every CD, video game box, theatre playbill and movie-credits sequence for projects made using the state’s tax credits system will bear the Louisiana Entertainment logo for all to see.
It’s an ambitious push—and one that requires significant investment from the state—but McConnell’s office is gaining cheerleaders from the private sector who continue to bring repeat business to Louisiana.
Last fall, one studio executive behind Sylvester Stallone’s new action flick The Expendables raved about the advantages of shooting here. “I think this is our thirteenth film in the state,” Diego Martinez of Nu Image/Millennium films told Variety. “The cooperation you get here is always incredible, and the Louisiana Film Office is really there for you. The incentives don’t hurt either.”

Mark Smith

A long talk and a cigar

It was June 1, 2007, when McConnell and her staff—Chris Stelly, Amber Havens and Alex Schott—sat together with former Film Commission head Mark Smith and then-LED Secretary Michael Olivier inside a waiting room of the Hale Boggs Federal Building on Poydras Street in New Orleans. Unlike Smith, McConnell wasn’t on the hook. She was there to provide answers. A federal grand jury wanted details of the inner workings of LED’s film incentives program.
At one point, Olivier looked at each one of them and uttered the words McConnell had been dreading: “We have to shut this program down.”
When she returned to Baton Rouge, McConnell learned that while they were answering questions in front of the grand jury, the FBI raided the New Orleans offices of LIFT, a powerful production company that was doing roughly 30% of the film business in Louisiana.
The incentives legislation Louisiana pioneered in 2002 was just five years old, but with the FBI cracking down on Smith’s relationship with LIFT, it would be a fight for the current staff to keep it.
Days later, McConnell invited Olivier to her Baton Rouge Garden District home. They sat on her back porch for hours. He listened and puffed a cigar as she gave him the talking points. It was there, looking out at McConnell’s quaint, beloved flower garden, that the Louisiana film industry was saved. Olivier agreed that under McConnell’s leadership, the state Entertainment Office could not only continue, but thrive.
After the FBI raids, Smith was charged with misappropriating state tax credits. In 2009, Smith would be sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay a $67,500 fine for accepting bribes from New Orleans attorney Malcolm Petal, the founder of LIFT, who received undue tax credits through Smith in exchange for the bribes. Petal was sentenced to five years and ordered to pay $1.35 million in restitution.
Last summer, before he was to report to prison, Smith walked into the Entertainment Office that had soldiered on through the firestorm he created. It was the first time McConnell had spoken to Smith since the investigation began. He got choked up.
“I can’t condone what he did—clearly it was a terrible thing—but I also think he feels that way too,” says McConnell, 53. “I think he’s a good guy who did a bad thing. And it made it really hard to do our job, too, for a while there. But you know, it was almost a relief in the industry when all that came down. It was like, ‘Okay this is done. The rumors can stop, and we don’t have to talk about it anymore. We can carry on.’ It was a new day.”

The red-headed stepchild

Patrick Mulhearn has overseen a business boom at Celtic Media Centre and Raleigh Studios since becoming director of operations at the expansive film facility off Airline Highway in 2009. He began his career in movie production in 2006 as the business development officer for the state film office just six months before Olivier hired McConnell. Smith had left the film office for the private sector. Without a director, the office was something of a rudderless ship.
“(We were) like the red-headed stepchild of state government,” says Mulhearn. “We were all squeezed into the music director’s office. Then we were moved to an old library storage space with all this junk furniture. It took us six weeks before we got Internet and phone service connected. Nothing was taken seriously.”
At the South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Conference in Austin this year, McConnell’s team hosted an industry reception, and debuted her department’s overhauled Web site.
Chris Stelly, now director of film for the state, says the office was not a top priority for LED simply because of the nature of the industry.
“We were growing fast, and a new growth industry, so I think there was a lack of understanding about what we were doing,” Stelly says. “Part of our mission is to convince people that this is really economic development, not just movie stars and photo ops.”
What’s worse, the office was being inundated with applications for tax credits from illegitimate enterprises and even real estate developers looking to use the film incentives to help fund non-film-related structures. When these applications were declined, many turned into resource-sucking lawsuits against the state. As recently as last year, McConnell expressed frustration about the amount of energy and focus her office had to spend discrediting a pile of bogus applications.
“There were so many people looking for loopholes where loopholes simply did not exist,” says Amy Ferguson, a New Orleans-based communications specialist who does public relations work for LED. “Thankfully, that’s all in the past.”

Sherri Mac

“That was some brave woman—just going for it,” McConnell says, recalling a photo taken of her mother in the middle of the Saudi desert in 1955. McConnell’s father was an engineer for a multinational firm, so she spent her youth living wherever he was building a factory or plant: Lebanon, Egypt, Pakistan, Canada. At 15, McConnell attended boarding school at Herringswell Manor in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England. At 16, she transferred to Western High School in Las Vegas. “Yes, that was a culture shock,” she says. “Going from owning my business to working in government was another.”
In 2002, while running a successful government relations firm in Baton Rouge, McConnell took interest in Louisiana’s first film incentives bill. She followed it through the legislative session that year, until it became law. In 2005, when the Legislature passed a similar program for sound recording, McConnell began doing pro bono work for the state’s entertainment industry. “My guts told me this was an industry that could grow,” she says.
After she met Mark Smith and offered to pitch in, he invited her to a locations trade show in Los Angeles. “The Louisiana booth was not impressive, to say the least, but everybody at that show was headed towards it,” McConnell says. “All the questions there were about our program. We were the rage.”

McConnell meeting with her film and television director, Chris Stelly.

Back in Baton Rouge, McConnell assisted music producer Johnny Palazzotto’s launch of the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation and worked as a consultant for Celtic Media Centre, representing its interests to the state while the group’s soundstages and offices were in early planning and construction phases. Unlike some lobbyists, she managed to make few enemies. Everyone seemed to like “Sherri Mac.” Through Celtic, McConnell met LED Secretary Michael Olivier. During lunch at the Little Village in fall 2006, Olivier asked McConnell to lead his Entertainment Office.
“We needed credibility and common sense,” says Olivier, who now works as CEO of the Committee of 100 Louisiana. “From the business side to the legislators, Sherri knew all the players and knew who was legitimate and who wasn’t. She understood not only the elements, but most importantly the intent of the incentives program.”
McConnell arrived for duty in February 2007. There she found details on certain projects were scant. Other files were nonexistent. Though no one had explicitly stated it, she had been branded a fixer. “We were immediately taken more seriously,” Mulhearn says. “Sherri saw problems and knew how to work the higher-ups.”
Two months later, the legislature passed 25% incentives packages for the live performance and digital interactive sectors.
McConnell’s greatest victory came in 2009 when budget crises and recession fears abounded, yet the state legislature granted her motion picture incentives program permanent status and upped the tax credit from 25% to 30% on in-state expenditures with a 35% payroll credit available for all Louisiana hires—a powerful nudge for Hollywood to use local crews.
“It’s amazing we increased the incentives when we did, and Sherri deserves a lot of the credit for that,” Mulhearn says. “Had she not been there, the whole thing might have blown over.”
Michael Arata, a film producer and attorney who serves as chairman of the entertainment arm of the Louisiana State Bar Association, says it was a hard-fought victory for the Entertainment Office, one that could not have been possible without McConnell’s legislative acumen.
“She knows the legislative process, and the state’s legislators trust her,” Arata says.
Building trust in other ways, McConnell brought clarity and transparency to the office through tighter rules for each sector’s incentives program. She then convinced Olivier to grant her directors’ positions unclassified status, giving her the budgetary elbow-room to make the key hires she needed to effectively grow her staff. In 2009 she hired Elliott Adams away from Portland-based CD Baby and Philip Mann—a veteran stage producer with years of Broadway’s business side to his credit—to run the digital interactive and live performance programs, respectively.
With McConnell taking the lead, the entertainment office staff began working as a single unit for the first time. “It became anesprit de corps where everyone gave input—a real team effort,” Stelly says. “Sherri brought her experience from the private sector and reinvigorated the office.”
“If we can only get industry people down here, they’ll come back,” McConnell says.

Under my umbrella

The synergy created by collecting the state’s incentive programs for film, music, interactive and live under the banner of Louisiana Entertainment had lasting effects both internally and externally for McConnell’s office. Until then, each sector had been kept, in McConnell’s words, to its own “silo.”
“No one else had her kind of vision,” Olivier says.
Now, thanks to new infrastructure projects attracted by sound recording incentives, movie studios can more easily use Louisiana’s music incentives program, administered by longtime music director Lynwood Ourso, to record soundtracks for films at another 25% discount. Convergence like this is the industry buzzword, McConnell says. One video game company is looking to produce a Wii game in Louisiana based on Broadway dance numbers in Louisiana. Another wants to score live music for its game titles.
With states like Georgia and Michigan starting to chase Louisiana’s heels for movie productions, in 2008 Louisiana still received more applications than anyone but California and Texas. So McConnell began using the fees her office collects from those applications to pay for promotion and marketing efforts so she could continue outpacing the competition.
That fund has contributed to the office’s two critically acclaimed pre-Grammy Awards events in Los Angeles in 2009 and 2010. Both were equal parts raucous concert and Mardi Gras party, where all of Louisiana’s food, culture, celebrities and entertainment opportunities were on glorious display. Last March, Louisiana Entertainment sponsored receptions and exhibits at South By Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Conference in Austin.
There, McConnell and her team debuted an overhauled website, new logos and a series of temporary tattoos with clever slogans like “Shoot Dat!” and “Sheauxtime!”—all part of an energetic rebranding effort McConnell conceived and outsourced to TILT, a cutting-edge Baton Rouge design firm.“Our challenge was to show the world that Louisiana supports the entertainment community—not only with tax credits and incentives but through our wealth of homegrown talent,” says Scott Hodgin, co-owner of TILT. “The look took on a feeling of handmade and authentic. Whether we spray-painted the logo on a beaten-up wooden background on the website, or developed custom, hand-drawn temporary tattoos for their debut at South By Southwest, we wanted everything to have an authentic feel.”
Louisiana Entertainment’s new branding effort includes attention-grabbing ideas like these temporary tattoos custom-made by Baton Rouge design firm TILT.

It is working.

Through June, Louisiana Entertainment had received more than 80 applications for film projects.
While rebranding helps lure outside producers, projects like HBO’s immediate-hit Treme and blockbuster-sized films like Battle: Los Angeles and Green Lantern, both McConnell and Stelly understand the importance of fostering the state’s indigenous film industry. “Otherwise, what’s left if the tax incentives are ever taken away?” McConnell asks.
More local film companies with projects ranging from $300,000 to a few million are benefiting from the incentives and finding a niche.
“The state film office turns things around fast, always gets back to you, and they answer questions,” says Daniel Lewis, a Baton Rouge native and COO of Active Entertainment in Lafayette. “They spend time nurturing smaller companies like ours, and that says a lot about Sherri and Chris’ leadership. They bring the same level of excitement and work ethic to the small-budget productions as they do to the big-budget movies.”

Billion dollar baby

In June the Entertainment Office released a new strategic plan. In the fourth paragraph of the 29-page document, McConnell clearly states her goal: “Bring in $1 billion of direct economic impact to a state whose homegrown professionals, artists and musicians can remain and build creative careers that flourish.” Having hauled in $1.9 billion in investment based on the state’s $700 million dollars in tax credits since 2002, $1 billion annually is a big number but not an inconceivable mark, says McConnell. With state budget cuts common and the looming economic impact of the BP oil leak unknown, however, the Entertainment Office may have to try to get there without significant increases in funding or staffing.
A year after Louisiana passed its landmark film incentives program, Bill Richardson, the newly elected governor of New Mexico, launched his own efforts to draw productions away from nearby California. New Mexico’s state film office now maintains a dozen full-time employees—more than twice that of Louisiana—yet still falls behind our state in total annual productions. “Sherri’s office is clearly running circles around New Mexico,” Lewis says. “It’s amazing the amount of work that gets done in that office with such a small staff.”
McConnell recognizes Louisiana cannot compete with powerhouses California and New York for crew base or infrastructure, but says that need not stop the state from chipping away at their lead.
“It’s just about recognizing the need to do it,” McConnell says. “If we can only get industry people down here, they’ll come back. The creativity and culture in our state sells itself.” Anyone who followed the Saints charge to Super Bowl victory or has taken notice of Make It Right’s progress in the Ninth Ward knows Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have made New Orleans their adoptive home long after The Curious Case of Benjamin Button wrapped in 2007. Earlier this year, Scarlett Johansson and husband Ryan Reynolds purchased a home near Lafayette and Dockside Studios, where Johansson recorded her debut album Anywhere I Lay My Head.
With Hollywood superstars not only shooting movies and riding in parades here, but buying homes, too, and Louisiana Entertainment closing in on a half-billion dollars of investment annually—a figure Pixel Magic in Lafayette and Blade Studios in Shreveport should boost in 2011—McConnell’s job has become less about putting out fires and more about staking a claim of permanence for entertainment as an industry. That claim seemed so perilously unlikely three years ago as her staff waited to appear before a grand jury. “We came this close,” McConnell says, her thumb and index finger only centimeters apart.
McConnell’s battle is no longer one for respect but for patience—patience among LED officials and private investors to stay engaged in her growing industries before her office makes a statement no one will be able to ignore: $1 billion every single year.
“I’m probably the most impatient of the bunch, so (patience) is an internal struggle for me,” McConnell says. “We’ve come a long way in three years, but I’m not satisfied.”
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fairfield Studios launch their Best Screenplay Annual Competition

In celebration of the budding successes and mounting presence of the movie and entertainment industry in the Shreveport-Bossier area, Fairfield Studios launched the first annual Shreveport-Bossier Best Screenplay Competition, encouraging local talent to make their voices heard.

The contest website,, drew an astounding 80,000 hits during the mere three months of competition, offering up a delicious grand prize for emerging screenplay writers. Not only would the winning script be produced by Fairfield Studios, but then also publically premiered at Shreveport‟s own Robinson Film Center and entered into film festivals across the country.

Fundraising is underway at Kickstarter with very generous incentives. Donors can also donate through the Bossier Arts Council and qualify for tax credits. .

Grand Prize went to “Lobster Boy,” written by Terry Kendricks, whose showstealing screenplay went on to steal the stage once again, when announced to a live crowd during Shreveport‟s Red River Revel, in October 2010. Additionally, Mary Kim Sipes‟ screenplay, “Izzy‟s Christmas Wish” grabbed the People‟s Choice Award.

Production for Lobster Boy is scheduled for May 2011.

Contact details
Fairfield Studios
1510 Fairfield Avenue, Shreveport, LA 71101

Friday, April 8, 2011

FilmingLouisiana Productions for April, 8, 2011

Playing the Field, Shreveport, LA
Kane & Lynch, Shreveport, LA
Freelancers, New Orleans, LA
Medallion, New Orleans LA
The Third Act, Alexandria LA
Dirt Road,  Lafayette LA.
21 Jump Street, New Orleans LA
Billy the Exterminator Season 4, Shreveport LA
Dark Tales of El Diablo, West Monroe LA  or fax to 504.324.0658.
Sons of Guns Season 2,  Baton Rouge LA
No One Lives  New Orleans LA,
The Stuart House Recordings New Orleans LA
The Baytown Disco, Slidell LA
Headshot, Louisiana
The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Freelancers, New Orleans LA
Universal Soldier, A New Dimension, Baton Rouge
Thicker, Louisiana
Silver Cord, New Orleans
Tarantula, New Orleans
Downers Grove, Louisiana
Asleep at the Wheel, New Orleans
72 Hours, New Orleans
Room and Board, New Orleans
No One Lives, New Orleans
The Summoning, Baton Rouge
One Small Life, New Orleans
Dirty Movie II: The Student Film New Orleans
Playing with the Enemy, Shreveport LA
Unraveled, Baton Rouge
Substance, Matairie LA
Carmilla: The Homecoming Louisiana
The Boys Club Folsom LA
Extraordinary, Baton Rouge
Verdigris, New Orleans
Moments of Life, New Orleans
Lay the Favorite, New Orleans LA
Treme Season 2, New Orleans, LA
Cogan's Trade, New Orleans LA
Abraham Lincoln-Vampire Hunter, New Orleans LA
Alien Tornado  Lafayette LA
Looper,  New Orleans LA   or fax to 504.525.1857.
Memphis Beat Season 2 New OrleansLA, LaPlace
Dark Circles, Baton Rouge LA
Stash House Baton Rouge LA fax resumes to 225.757.6258 with attention to STASH PRODUCTIONS.
Ghostbreakers, Shreveport

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde..."

"Meanwhile, back at Cafe Du Monde...", the food monologue show, April 26, 2011 at Ernest Orleans Restaurant. Monologue presenters include:

Chef Ernest Palmisano -Owner/Chef of Ernest's Orleans Restaurant - Growing up Ernest was raised in his Father's restaurant that was the legendary place to see and be seen in downtown Shreveport - the kind of place where people dressed for dinner. His stories are entertaining and not to be missed along wiht the amazing buffet of the favorite dishes that make Ernest's Orleans the best restaurant in Shreveport! You don't want to miss the marinated crab claws! His beautiful wife, Tina Marie, has been in the show twice has been influential in the success of "Meanwhile, Back At Cafe Du Monde..." - you don't want to miss her famous tamales!

Diego Martinez - President of Millennieum Films - Attended the University of Southern Mississippi where he studied Film Production, near his native New Orleans. After college he started and headed an Internet Service Providing company, one of the first in Mississippi. In 1998 he moved to Medellin, Colombia where he taught English for five years. Diego returned to Louisiana to pursue his passion for film production. After working on a number of productions as an Art Department Coordinator, Diego made the transition to Production Supervisor on three Millennium Film projects. In June of 2008, Diego joined Nu Image/Millennium Films as President of Millennium Studios, and as Executive Producer overseeing Louisiana productions. Currently, he is responsible for the construction of the new studio facility being built in the Ledbetter Heights neighborhood in Shreveport with a grand opening in March.

Robert Darrow - Shreveport Little Theatre's Managing and Artistic Director - earned his MA in Liberal Arts from LSU-S in 2002 and a BA from Centenary in Theatre/Speech and Eduction in 1981. He attended Circle in the Square in NYC. In 1990, Darrow helped establish The Philadelphia Center, a non-profit, social service agency and served as its executive director for the first five years. He began his career as a child actor, appearing in over 100 local productions and has directed over forty productions. In March of 2011, Darrow completed a decade's long quest of rebuilding the Shreveport Little Theatre after two fires destroyed the original historic structure.

Ryan Glorioso - Casting Director/Owner - Glorioso Casting - After graduating with a BA in Theatre from Louisiana’s Northwestern State University in 1996, Ryan relocated to L.A. where he worked as an actor for 8 years. Ryan established his career in casting and became a member of the Casting Society of America in Louisiana's blooming film market. Just four years after establishing his company, Glorioso Casting, Ryan stands as a constant and respected member of Louisiana's film community. Some projects recently cast locally by Glorioso Casting include; The Expendables, Butter, Super, Straw Dogs, Leaves of Grass and Wonderful World. Two of Ryan's films premiered at The 2010 Sundance

Tom Pace - A returning emcee, Tom has been in the Shreveport shows from the first show on September 2010 and is one of the biggest fans and supporters of "Meanwhile, Back At Cafe Du Monde..." since he was born in New Orleans where eating at Cafe Du Monde. was a weekly event!

Deborah Allen - Artist, Writer and Blogger - Presently contributing writer for the Film Industry Trade Magazine, Filming Louisiana, contributing writer for Shreveport Blog. Board member for Hope for the Homeless, and Board member for the Youth Action Group, Young Unique Positive People, Member of the Highland Restoration Association and Case Manager of the Philadelphia Center.

Sandy Davis - Director of Homeland Security - Bossier/Caddo Parish Returns for his 3rd time as a headliner to "Meanwhile, Back At Cafe Du Monde...." a favorite of audiences as his stories of cooking as a fireman keep audiences in hysterics!

Rob Jenkins - Based out of Shreveport, LA Rob Jenkins is the busiest full time magician in the state doing on average 8-10 shows per week. He has been a full time comedy/magic professional since 1998 and has been featured at the Nations top Comedy Clubs and Casinos. Rob headlines Las Vegas 3 times per year and is often called upon to consult some of the biggest names in magic. Rob will be featured in the new Motion Picture "Leaves of Grass" starring Edward Norton. He can also be seen on A&E's "The Exterminators".

Peggy Sweeney-McDonald - Creator/Producer of "Meanwhile, Back At Cafe Du Monde..." is very excited to return to one of her favorite venues! The Shreveport shows have been very special as they welcomed us with open arms from the first show! Tina and Ernest Palmisano have become dear friends along with all the other fabulous headliners and emcees who have blessed our shows in Shreveport! So excited about the new headliners, Debbie Allen, Ryan Glorioso, Diego Martinez and Robert Darrow! This will be a very special evening!

Tickets $40 Plus tax and gratuity includes delicious dinner buffet and the show! Reservations Recommended - Call (318) 226-1325. Doors open at 6:30pm for dinner and show begins at 7:30pm

For more information or call Peggy Sweeney-McDonald 310-709-2851 or email -

Monday, April 4, 2011

ONE WITH THE ANIMALS by Christopher Moore

Starting out on this gloomiest and cold of days I knew even the drizzle could not ruin this day for me. I picked up a new friend who I wanted to set out on this adventure with me. Coffee in hand, satellite tuned in to some good music, navigation telling me to tread south; we were on the road. Conversation for the drive was about Sunday drives, but this was Saturday and I was excited about what was in store for us. The navigation spouting off turns and commands making us completely miss our destination but I had a co-pilot, and she immediately took the helm and found this hacienda de los Lobos.

We were first greeted by a three legged dog and my thoughts went to “what did I get me and my co-pilot into?” Soon we met up with one of the trainers Matt Martin who quickly pointed out how the inauspicious canine lost his foot. Just as I suspected, a small run in with a wolf, but wait we were here to see these very malicious wolves ourselves, and would meet the same fate? Soon out of the woods comes a tall brunette named Tracy Oliver who quickly moved over to a cage with 3 wolves and she goes right to work, no play, with these callous creatures. I was asked to step right into the cage of death and that is where my thoughts changed. Why is this wolf licking me, and why is this wolf lying down and letting me scratch its belly? Also, why is it that my co-pilot is outside the cage where it is safe? I had it all wrong; these animals were gentile, much like a playful Fido. That was no mistake; they were trained by the best, Sid Yost and fellow trainers, Matt, Tracy, and JJ Engel. I could tell these animals were trained with love and respect.

Sid Yost is no stranger to animals he owns Amazing Animal Productions which owns the animals and holds the licensing for the animals in Louisiana and Animal Actors Worldwide which handles agency work and the locally and federally licensing. Both companies’ affection train studio animals for motion picture and television production and Sid, Tracy JJ, and Matt do just that; train and love.

To understand how Sid got to this ranch in North West Louisiana I must first backtrack to his humble beginnings. It has been a long road for Sid who got his start when he decided to write the first book in 1977 on ferrets called “What’s a Ferret” and introduced ferrets to the United States which made him responsible for the indoor ferret craze in America. Some call Sid “the father of ferrets”. A short time after Sid’s love of animals convinced him to buy a ranch in Colorado and he went a little bigger. He bought his first two African lions for pets. A local store owner and friend asked if he would consider putting the lions in a water bed store commercial. The owner, who was a friend, was not doing so well at the time so Sid said he would help because that is the kind of guy he is. Within a couple of years the friend had a dozen stores because the lions were in all of his commercials and a light bulb went off in Sid’s head. Around the same time Sid got a call from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler to train animals with them and do some shows which Sid welcomed; the stars had aligned.

This had a snowball effect for Sid, and before he knew it he had over 80 animals and a full private zoo with lions, tigers, bears and wolves. While training his animals at his zoo, he soon got a call from the largest animal movie companies in Los Angeles called “Gentle Jungle” who bought him out to California in the early 1980’s to bring his training skills to train their animals. Sid became one of the top 10 trainers in the country. He was a working trainer for years in California though the competition for animals in film was fierce so Sid wanted to make a move.

The tax incentives then made Sid think about taking his experience somewhere else and Louisiana seemed like a good move. He and his trainers were brought out by ABC and FOX for the short lived series The Gates and for six months they worked their wolves’ deer and birds of prey. Even though the show did not make it Sid and his trainers fell in love with the area and the people so they decided to make it home. Since Louisiana was a virtual untapped market and they were getting offers from major movie productions, commercials and television shows it seemed like a good move.

Now back present day, Amazing Animal Productions is the only full service animal company in Louisiana. This move has kept them moving from one film to the next nonstop since their arrival. Some of the industry top crew has moved to Louisiana and this has allowed Sid to work with some of the best.

My favorite part of the day and I believe my co-pilot would agree, was getting to watch the six wolf pups that were six weeks old get their first real taste of food other than their mothers teat. They were gentle and sweet and it was hard to imaging in no time these would be the future wolves you will be watching in some movie starring Nicolas Cage or “place said actor’s name here”. We also got to meet a few other animals like a trained fox? Yes, I said it, a trained fox that also does a real treat to its own food, but we will not talk about that right now. Trained birds, they have them too, crows, a falcon, a hawk this place has it all.

Of course my morbid curiosity goes straight to the thoughts of scars on the trainers. Sid does this with passion and has paid for it dearly. He was a pioneer in training that always comes with a price. There were no books written on training wild animals so you learn by mistakes. 100 bites later he says he has not been bitten in the past 10 years. His wounds would include 3 fingers sewn back on after a bite from an African lion. He has been picked up by a 10 foot Kodiak bear and thrown against a wall leaving puncture wounds in his shoulder. Sid has endured a bite from an alligator doing a Kodak commercial which left him with 72 stitches in the back of his leg but he says that comes with the job. I am doing an interview and I have not been bitten once, my job must be much less dangerous or they have something in store for me. Not only do they train the animals they also do all the stunts with the animals, which must include bites and scratches. Amazing Animal trainers has 8 trainers right now who also work as stunt double’s who take “Hits” which is anytime someone on film is attacked or brutalized by an animal.

The list of animals that Sid handles are Lions, Tigers, wolves, bears, elephants, giraffes, camels, zebras and all kinds of horses and virtually any other kind of animal you can think of. The only thing that Sid does not work with is Killer whales and dolphins; they just don’t work with Marine life. If they don’t have it they can get it and train it. “One of the things about the animal business is that you may not own all the animals but you better know where to get them. Some animals have to have special permits and so you have to know the people who own them and have the permits to have them to get here. One example is we get a lot of calls for penguins which require special permits as do otters.”

Amazing Animals can be seen in Cowboys and Aliens, Bless me Ultima, Book of Eli, Spy Next Door, TheCourier, Season of the Witch, Transit, Haunting in Georgia, Contraband, Year One, The Gates, and the Jack Ass movies. In addition, there is great interest in a pilot show for Sid one being the Real Animal House that is being shopped around. There is always great interest in Amazing Animals because of the fact that they put their life on the line everyday with these animals and that when they have free time they like to spend their time goofing around and “punking” others while on the set and off. The team also just got the green light for 13 episodes to be filmed on the ranch and on set which should be a real treat for everyone; I know it will be a treat for me because I found some new friends at Amazing Animals. Not only did they make me and my co-pilot feel more than welcome they gave us some new understanding of what it is they do, not just train animals, but show you how to interact with wildlife and humans alike.

The tax incentives were secondary to coming to Louisiana. They were already in four other states they were working in with incentives before they moved into Louisiana. Sid will admit in some states the incentives have not worked. In some states they offer incentives and then they just give you an IOU. “Louisiana is a little different what they mean is what they say.” He says they are honest and their integrity is that what they say is what you get. That is what is brining the business into the state. The Gates got them here, but the people kept them here. They love filming in Louisiana because you can be anywhere in the state within 6 hours. They love working with the film offices that really take care of them and the wildlife fish and game who help them as well.

Sid still says the favorite part of his job is that he is an above average animal lover and he loves training with his animals through the method he developed over 30 years called “affection training” using love patience, calmness, consistency, with mutual understanding and respect. Working with his animals and teaching others to work with his animals. Working on the set is great also but coming home and working with his animals with no pressure is still his favorite part. You can tell the love that is between the animals and the trainers, I felt at real peace once I got to know each of the animals that they train and that is exactly what they do; make you feel the same as they do.

“We are always looking for interns and volunteers; it takes about 140 plus hours to train someone the skills.” They would like also to join a union which at this point does not recognize them. One of the biggest things Sid wants production companies to know is that Hollywood does not need to bring the animals from California. “We have everything you need here. We have the animals locally and in the state, and we can help Hollywood who is coming out here to take advantage of the tax incentives to give them a honest reason to use us as the local company as part of their tax incentives. Let us be the local company you hire. We will provide the same expertise and we deliver results, not excuses.”

As me and my co-pilot loaded up the car for our venture back to the real world, I realized I did not go to Amazing Animals for just an interview and a couple of snap shots. I went to meet real nice people who train animals and who have a passion for what they do. I was taught by the trainers about each and every animal that I met and found out about each their individual personalities and quirks. As for me, I think in one single great day, the bad weather did not matter, the cold did not matter, the warmth from that trip me and my co-pilot had experienced made us one with the animals, if only for a day.

Amazing Animal Productions

Sid Yost

Story by Christopher Moore

Shreveport's Millennium Studios opens
Actors Jessica Biel and Gerard Butler, center, pose with Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover, Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker and others at the grand opening of Millennium Studios today in Shreveport. / Adam Kealoha Causey/The Times

Hundreds poured into Millennium Studios this evening to celebrate the $10 million-plus facility's grand opening.  A VIP reception that started at 4:30 p.m. included appearances from actors Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel, in town to shoot Millennium feature “Playing the Field.” Local politicians and state officials praised the complex as the anchor for what will become a revived Ledbetter Heights neighborhood.
Construction on the 53,000-square-foot project started in December 2009, allowing the company to take advantage of state film tax credits. Millennium rents the property from Shreveport for $1,200 a year.

Worldwide FX studio, the smaller and western-most building on the 6.7-acre plot, already is open. About 70 graphic designers and other special effects artists are at work there.

Written by

From Staff Reports

Monday, March 21, 2011

Battle lines being drawn by By Jeff Roedel

By Jeff Roedel Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Picture Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

In the wee small hours of Feb. 25, 1942, dozens of air-raid sirens cried out over Los Angeles County. It had to be the Japanese. Officials ordered a complete blackout of the city as the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade pumped more than 1,400 rounds of heavy anti-aircraft artillery shells at what were thought to be enemy aircraft. Several hours later, after the shooting stopped, the Secretary of the Navy declared the incident a false alarm.

Anyone who’s visited the World War II Museum in New Orleans knows well that our post-Pearl Harbor nerves were fried. The overnight assault made front-page news the following morning, but even at the initial rush, commentators suggested a cover-up was underway. Now, a few modern UFO hunters believe that what the Coast Guard encountered that night actually was some type of alien spacecraft. Known as the Great Los Angeles Air Raid or the Battle of Los Angeles, this bizarre WWII footnote is the folkloric inspiration for Columbia Pictures’ contemporary science fiction war movie Battle: Los Angeles, in theaters March 11.

There are no false alarms in Battle: Los Angeles, and this time, the threat is shockingly real and absolutely foreign. Though the film is set on the West Coast, Baton Rouge doubled for parts of the California capital for budgeting purposes when several sequences large and small were lensed here more than a year ago. A stretch of Florida Boulevard was closed for three days, and so was the Bet-R Store near the Perkins Road overpass. Our airport substituted for a California military base, and Spanish Town played host to an alien ground assault. Our iconic state capitol even got a fleeting glance in the first trailer.

Amy Mitchell Smith, head of the Baton Rouge Film Commission, says Battle: Los Angeles already has made an impact on the city’s film industry—long before its release.

“When it comes to enormous studio productions, the pool of decision-makers who green light these shows is very small,” Smith says. “Producers and studio execs behind Battle: Los Angeles were very pleased with the success and ease of filming in Baton Rouge. They became advocates for filming here to other studio execs and top-level producers.”

The extraterrestrial invasion film stands a good chance of becoming the biggest box office draw Baton Rouge has ever played a major part in—until The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn arrives this fall. And the cast loved it here. Aaron Eckhart of The Dark Knight and Thank You for Smoking fame ran the University Lakes. Tough girl Michelle Rodriguez, known from Lost and The Fast and the Furious, shook her boots and spun records at Spanish Moon.

After a few weeks, hearing explosions or seeing plumes of smoke and flashes of light outside their offices and their homes became normal to some Baton Rougeans. Others earned small roles in the thriller and got a taste of Hollywood magic in the making.

Baton Rougean Matt Maurel earned an extra’s role as a Marine in the film.
Matt Maurel, 28, got a “high-and-tight” haircut and Marine gear to play a soldier commanded by Eckhart’s gritty captain for attack scenes filmed at the airport.

“We were put in a real Osprey [helicopter] and told to run out and look up to the left as if there was an alien ship or huge explosion in the sky,” recalls Maurel, who works for the state. “We had to sprint 100 yards in full gear and do that about 15 times.”

Eckhart, a photographer in his spare time, took several minutes to compose shots of Maurel’s unit prior to the scene rolling. Later Maurel met the star during a break. Maurel almost earned a speaking role, but he was passed over because the vest he was given did not match those given to soldiers of his rank, and the film’s Marine liaison noticed.

“Wardrobe didn’t have time to get a new one over to me, so they chose someone else,” Maurel says. “I’m not looking to make a career out of it, but it was a fun experience, and I’d do it again. I’ll probably just be a blur of camouflage in the background somewhere.”

Battle: Los Angeles arrives in theaters March 11.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Autistic Louisiana Student Enters Film Festival

The first annual R-Squared Film Festival 2011 is underway in Monroe, LA, and currently has over 300 students from Northeast Louisiana ready to submit their films.

These students represent Ouachita Parish, Union Parish, Morehouse Parish, Lincoln Parish, Monroe City School District, the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and Louisiana Tech University. Students are competing in teams of five students or less to create a original, short film of any genre, 10 minutes of less. Perhaps one of the most special aspects of the festival comes out of West Ouachita High School.

Aaron Husar is a graduating senior, actor and has Autism. Husar is a key member on one of West Ouachita's five teams competing in the festival, and does not consider Autism to be a obstacle, in fact, it is an opportunity.

The winners of the R-Squared Film Festival will receive hundreds of dollars in gift cards, trophies, plaques, an Apple iMac Desktop Computer for their school, and their films will debut on KARD FOX 14.

For more information on the festival, other entrants, or R-Squared Productions, contact Christina M. Porter, R-Squared Productions Associate Producer at 318-323-6900 or