Millennium Films will make its fifth feature film in Shreveport. "Major Movie Star," starring Jessica Simpson, will begin production in mid-July. She also shot "Blonde Ambition" in Shreveport with Millennium earlier this year.
Millennium also is in negotiations to build a 100,000 square foot movie studio in Shreveport valued at $7 million to $10 million. And trust me, this company is very serious about getting this deal done.
News like this usually makes the first paragraph of my stories, not the 11th and 13th.
But local producers and industry advocates met yesterday at Government Plaza to discuss their response to the FBI's investigation of LIFT and allegations of impropriety made about a former LED entertainment director by his former employee.
These are allegations at this point, but the implications are serious enough to have producers worried that a single incident could taint Hollywood's perception of the industry.
What struck me as most interesting about yesterday's meeting was not the PR danger -- that's obvious -- but rather the sense of immediacy shared by the local leaders of the film industry.
Everyone at that meeting was keenly aware of their interdependency.
Millennium Films, a production company, needs Louisiana Production Consultants, a producing firm, because they both develop the crew base, which is too small at present.
LPC and Millennium need TurnKey Louisiana, a equipment vendor and production services provider, because producers need equipment from in-state vendors.
TurnKey, Millennium and LPC need the Robinson Film Center, a nonprofit advocate for the film industry, to help promote Shreveport to Hollywood.
RFC needs the film representatives mayors' offices, because they share a common interest: nurturing the industry. And so on and so on.
With all of these entities willing to come to the table, it is apparent the industry in northwest Louisiana is organized, proactive and determined to keep the industry moving forward.
Three movies are in production right now in Shreveport: "Mad Money," "The Great Debaters" and "The Pardon."
In the short term, it will be extremely difficult to gauge the impact of the FBI probe. For the meantime, I'll be watching what the legislature does with pending amendments to the state's tax credits. For the longterm, I'll be talking to this region's industry experts, asking them if they are bringing in new productions, building a larger crew base, and intent on staying.
The proof of sustainability will be in numbers. How many shows are here or coming? How many jobs are filled and being created? How many blog entries can I write?
Regarding what's happening in New Orleans, I'm not there so I will defer to the Times-Picayune, which has done a bang-up job in getting this story out. Keep watching their movie blog for continuing coverage. Today's entry, "Are we dumping the baby with bath water?," is stellar.
I just spoke with the New Orleans film office. Jennifer Day says "Black Water Transit" and "K-Ville" are in preproduction at the moment. Nothing is currently filming, she said.
Yesterday, I spoke with LIFT's attorney Steve London. Regarding LIFT's production plans, London said, “For the short term, things are going to be pretty much on hold.” He further commented he didn’t know if short term meant days or weeks. He is meeting with federal attorneys today.
Photo credit: Jessica Simpson poses backstage at MTV's Times Square Studios, Oct. 4, 2006, in New York. (AP Photo/Paul Hawthorne)