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

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Filming Louisiana Sent out to Production Companies and hits SXSW.

Filming Louisiana Magazine and database has been printed and has been shipped out to production companies throughout the United States. In addition Filming Louisiana will be hitting SXSW this year again and will be distributed in Austin at the Film, Interactive and Music conference and festival. This year SXSW will be the biggest conference and will encompass over 9 days of fun.

This magazine issue will catch you up on Millennium Studios build in Shreveport and their soon to open studios plans for the future.

Sid Yost of Amazing Animals will teach you how to handle wolves and other animals with his 30 years of training film animals for commercials, TV, and film productions.

Wayne Douglas Morgan shows us how to keep on top in Louisiana film and what keep him going in the industry as a mover and shaker.

We also catch up with the newly open Blade Studios which was on the cover of the last issue as well as an interview with Darryl Jones of the Rolling Stones while he is laying down his tracks for his first solo album at the new studio.

Filming Louisiana has over 3500 contacts of Louisiana film Crew, Services, talent and Locations in our great state. Please remember that if you plan on a production in Louisiana, check out our wonderful Louisiana talent that we have to offer in our great state instead of bringing in crew. Also if you hire local you can get an additional 5% back in tax incentives so, HIRE LOCAL.

Check out the new magazine as well as get ready for our summer issue coming out soon.
Our website which is also searchable for crew is

Louisiana won 'Battle: Los Angeles,' thanks to tax credits

Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES - In the upcoming movie "Battle: Los Angeles," L.A. represents the last stand for humankind in a fight against invading aliens.

The action-packed film, however, was mostly shot in the other LA: Louisiana.

Having Baton Rouge and Shreveport stand in for Santa Monica, Calif., and L.A. might seem as preposterous as aliens attacking the city.

But several factors drew filmmakers to the Bayou State, chief among them a generous film tax credit.

"Obviously, the tax incentives were huge," said Jonathan Liebesman, who directed the $75-million film from Columbia Pictures, which shot 13 weeks in Louisiana in late 2009 and received a tax credit of nearly $15 million. The movie, which stars Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez, premieres Friday.

Louisiana offers a film tax credit of up to 35 percent of production costs, whereas California's program provides a maximum credit of 25 percent and excludes movies with budgets above $75 million. Louisiana officials also offered something L.A. officials couldn't: shutting down a freeway overpass for 30 days to stage a massive explosion and gun battles.

"The kind of movie we were making, we really needed to be able to shoot in locations that would have been impossible to shoot in L.A.," producer Neal Moritz said. "I could never have shut down the 405 or the 10 for weeks like we did in Louisiana."

"Battle: Los Angeles" is the latest and perhaps the most embarrassing example of how L.A. has been losing feature production to more than 40 states that offer more attractive film tax credits and rebates. While on-location filming activity in L.A. County climbed 8 percent last year, it was down 62 percent from its peak in 1996, according to FilmL.A. Inc.

Louisiana was one of the first to adopt generous film tax credits in 2002 and remains the busiest hub for production outside L.A. and New York. Last year, $674 million was spent in the state to make about 100 commercials, TV shows and movies, including the Peter Berg-directed film "Battleship" and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn." That was up from 70 projects and spending of $361 million in 2009. Beyond attracting films, the state has also built up its own industry, with 15 soundstages and enough workers for 10 film crews at once.

"We're in a fortunate situation because we're one of the oldest and most stable tax credit programs in the nation, and we have a really diverse landscape," said Christopher Stelly, who heads the state film office.

"Battle: Los Angeles" was among the largest features to be shot in the state. With a crew of about 200 people and 3,000 extras, the film contributed about $46.5 million in spending to the state, Stelly said.

Except for the movie's opening sequences at Camp Pendleton and the alien beach attack in Santa Monica, 90 percent of the film was shot in Louisiana's capital, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport in the northwest part of the state. Several large sets, including a replica of a Santa Monica apartment complex, were built in Baton Rouge. The state Capitol filled in for City Hall in downtown L.A., and the historic neighborhood known as Spanish Town doubled for Santa Monica and Venice.

Using green-screen technology and computer-generated effects, scenes filmed in Louisiana were combined with digital aerial photos of the Southland to create the illusion that all of the action was taking place in L.A. The crew also placed palm trees where needed to look more like Southern California.

"We felt we could conceal a lot of locations and get away with it," Liebesman said.

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