Wednesday, April 25, 2007

If we build more, will more come?

An anonymous reader brought up a great point of contention about the recently announced $1.6 billion soundstage complex. It reportedly will be built in East Baton Rouge. (For details, scroll a few posts down or click here.)

The reader wrote: “This proposal is al [sic] ‘vapor’ and will never see the light of day. Studio complexes like this are not needed in Shreveport. Producers are fleeing Hollywood cause [sic] they won’t pay top dollar prices, so why would they want to pay rents on something as overbuilt as this. Shreveport merely needs more experienced crew and it will thrive with the studio space it has.”

The comment begs the following questions.

Are newly constructed soundstage complexes needed in a region that’s already doing pretty well for itself, at least at the present moment?

Should there be more places to film? If entrepreneurs build more soundstages, will more productions come?

Should entrepreneurs continue to retrofit the buildings and infrastructure already found in northwest Louisiana?

Expo Hall has been converted into StageWorks of Louisiana, and that’s getting business. The old AT&T plant has turned into a soundstage and production office, and that’s working. Other facilities are being used, too.

The wave tank built for “The Guardian” was bought and repurposed as the Louisiana Wave Studio. To my knowledge, it officially opened for business at the end of March but hasn’t announced a client. (If I’m wrong, please tell me.)

Instead of building new production facilities, should the region concentrate on selling itself as a place with versatile locations? Should Shreveport just promote itself as Anywhere, USA, and be happy with the business it gets?

Is it better to concentrate on growing the crew base and using existing facilities?

What say you? Do we need more, or do we have enough?


If you don't want to post your comments for public consumption, email me at akent@gannett.com.

4 comments:

Chris said...

The outcry I hear almost daily is experienced crew. Every movie set I have been on or everything I have heard from people on movie sets is that all the crew in higher up positions (Lead Key PAs, solid grips and bigger role electric workers) are all brought in from outside the city. Because of this, producers are paying housing and per dium on all of those workers where that money (probably) could be spent elsewhere in the production.

I haven't heard anyone screaming "We need a bigger soundstage!" or even needing a soundstage at all that can't be found. We need to concentrate on finding a way to get people trained. For example, BPCC has offered several crew classes including but not limited to everything from set etiquette to handling Panavision cameras. More classes and information like this will prepare our infrastructure to handle soundstages.

If more trained crew are here, more productions will come and then (and only then) will we need more soundstages.

In short, why build soundstages when there is no one to crew them. People first, buildings second.

MS said...

If they build too many sound-stages, the price for use will go down, unless there is a price control.

Also, the State of Louisiana has quite a few other projects to work on with $1.6 billion. I-49 completion, and repairing of every other road in the state. How about giving some of the surplus back to the tax-ayers and eliminating the state income tax to entice workers and businesses to move to LA.

If what chris said is correct, the state of Louisiana needs to get in touch with the needs of the existing movie industry instead of what the govt thinks the movie industry needs.

Chris said...

I think the big thing about roads is that most of the large roadwork funds don't come from state funding. Especially not I-49. The interstates-- and even Youree Drive for Pete's sake-- are 75% federal funding. The signs are everywhere on youree $10+ Million federal funding and ~$6 Mil from the state.

Sure there are projects that need doing, but the money for roads is set aside in advance. There is a lot of local money (within the city) and in the state allocated funds for grants. And with the "booming" film industry down here- we need to take advantage of that money that can't be used anywhere else and if it doesn't get used- it goes to waste.

So the title statement shouldn't be "If we build more, will more come?"- it should be "When we support it- more WILL come."

I'll rant some more. Take Austin for example. Prior to it's self declaration as a big music town- it wasn't. It was just the capitol of Texas. But there were people who supported the arts... So when people started saying "We do music!" like we scream "film" here, they actually had the public interest and the government support acting together.

Right now Shreveport is out of sync. There is a lot of buzz about movies and everyone loves it- but not enough people are skilled workers to support that infrastructure. The government wants to help, but they are unsure of what to do. What we need to do is talk to our mayor and film commissioner and say "Hey, we need training... then you can build a studio." They will do it. Cedric and Arlena have been very flexible to the needs of the industry thus far- let's take advantage of that wonderful part of their leadership so we can become the big Hollywood of the south that everyone thinks we already are.

Anonymous said...

You guys are right about the crew and interesting on-site locales, but you fail to realize that the owners of those locations probably don't want a film crew taking up the whole floor for a week of shooting as opposed to just shooting some exterior shots to set the scene, then taking the indoor to the more controlled soundstage. Louisiana is lacking the truly aggressive soundstage that will build a sustainable business (that can exist without tax breaks) and go get the crews, indies and post-production guys from Hooper- oops, Hollywood and bring them back to Louisiana.