Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Casting director offering weekend seminar

Casting director Bill Marinella is hosting an auditioning seminar Saturday at the Robinson Film Center. The seminar will cover auditioning basics, preparation techniques, set etiquette and more.

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (April 4).
WHERE: Robinson Film Center, 617 Texas St., Shreveport.
COST: $40.
TO REGISTER OR MORE INFO: billmarinella@yahoo.com or www.acmecastingcompany.com.

Monday, March 30, 2009

City to host forum about incentives

WHEN: 3 p.m. April 9.
WHERE: Independence Stadium Skybox, Shreveport.

The following is a note from Arlena Acree, Shreveport's director of film, media and entertainment:

"You are invited by the Mayor to a meeting to discuss existing film tax incentives and the future of Louisiana's film industry and tax incentives before the legislative session begins in April. We want to hear from you and your thoughts on what you would like for Louisiana's future for the Film Industry. We hope to have our legislators there as well as local city councilman and police jurors, parish commissioners, crew, talent, and vendors. See the attached invite and please forward to anyone interested in attending so that we can have a big turn out. Thanks so much and we look forward to seeing you there!!"

Trailer: 'The Last Lullaby' runs May 1-3 at the Louisiana Boardwalk

The Last Lullaby trailer (Longer Version) from Jeffrey Goodman on Vimeo.

Haven't seen Jeffrey Goodman's "The Last Lullaby" yet? The local director's flick premieres May 1 locally. Here's an early look.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Trailer: 'Where the Wild Things Are'

I'm going off subject, but this trailer makes me hopeful. Why? A studio's fantasy flick actually looks more like live action than CGI. Here's to hoping director Spike Jonze gets it right.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Casting agency offering workshops

Casting directors Toni Cobb Brock and Sally Allen will offer a variety of acting workshops Saturday and Sunday (March 28-29) at the Robinson Film Center. You can learn more about them by visiting their website.

Actors will be taped, and the workshop will end with a Q&A about their work.

Workshop times:

  • 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday: Kids workshop, ages 6 to 11. (Bring your own lunch.)
  • 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday: Adult workshop, ages 17 and older.
  • 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday: Teen workshop, ages 12 to 16.
  • 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday: Adult workshop, ages 17 and older.

Location: Robinson Film Center, 617 Texas St., Shreveport.

Cost: $125, in advance, for each workshop; $150, at the door. To reserve, call Toni at (214) 752-9851.

Monday, March 23, 2009

LSUS offering intro workshop for animation/visual FX

LSUS's animation and visual effects program is offering another introductory workshop on March 28.

Program director John Miralles will head up the class, which is an intro to entertainment industry computer graphics. Students will produce their first visual effects during the workshop.

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 28.
WHERE: LSUS Technology Center, Room 258.
COST: $10, middle and high school students; $29 for LSUS students, faculty and staff; $39, general public.
TO REGISTER: ce.lsus.edu, or contact the Continuing Ed department at 318.798.4177.

Friday, March 20, 2009

'Phone it home, baby. Phone it home!' says Dick Vitale about this weekend's screenings of 'E.T.'

Just got off the phone with Dicky V. No, really ... I did. He's more excited about E.T.'s latest comeback than the Tar Heels' inevitable triumph. Best quote I've ever written down: "This Diaper Dandy came from beyond the stratosphere in 1982 to win the hearts and minds of movie nation, baby. E.T.'s fingers make James Worthy's look like half-eaten fish sticks! His levitating moon ride made M.J.'s free throw line dunk look like hopscotch! His translucent chest skin is more mind-altering than Michael Phelps bong hit! Scribble in this magnificent Martian as a bracket topper, baby! He's unbelievable. Unbelievable, baby!"

That ranks as the weirdest imaginary interview I've ever logged.

The Robinson Film Center is screening "E.T." on Saturday and Sunday. Details.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

BPCC casting for summer movie project

The BPCC Film Institute will hold auditions March 31 for its summer film project “At War with the Ants.” What do you need to know?

When: begins 5:30 p.m. March 31.
Where: BPCC campus, 6220 E. Texas St., Building D, 3rd floor, Bossier City.
Bring: a casting headshot/photo.
Info: Paula Kaszuba at (318) 678-6177 or pkaszuba@bpcc.edu.

Available parts:
  • male actors from young 20s to upper 30s
  • Female actors from young 20s to upper 30s
  • one African American girl (around 3 years old)
  • one Caucasian boy (around 6 years old)

We should know more about 'The Pardon' soon

I recently spoke with Jim Davis. He's executive producer for "The Pardon," which was shot in Shreveport in mid-2007. What's the status of the film? "We'll have a distribution deal inked within the first quarter," Davis said. "The offers we're getting are for national distribution."

Davis also noted that he aims to skip the festival circuit and go directly to theaters.

"The Pardon" revisits the story of Toni Jo Henry (played by Jaime King), the only woman to die in the Louisiana electric chair. She was convicted of murder and executed in 1942 at Calcasieu Parish jail. Henry was born in Shreveport in 1916.

PHOTO: Jaime King on the set of "The Pardon" on May 31, 2007. (Douglas Collier/The Times)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gary Chason to conduct workshop

Gary Chason will hold a screen-acting workshop, which begins Thursday. Participants will get DVD copies of their work. Details:

If you go
Gary Chason's Film-Acting Workshop.
WHEN: 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. March 19; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 21; 1 to 8 p.m. March 22.
WHERE: Acclaim Talent, 1411 Fairfield Ave., Shreveport.
COST: $150.
CONTACT: gchason@prodigy.net, www.garychason.com or (512) 468-8293.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

'The Last Lullaby' to hold 'premiere weekend' from May 1 to May 3

"The Last Lullaby," a locally produced independent feature, will open its theatrical run during a "premiere weekend" May 1 through May 3 at Louisiana Boarwalk's Regal Cinemas 14 in Bossier City.

The crime drama will play on one screen, and director Jeffrey Goodman hopes to attract as many patrons as possible.

"Our goal is for 3,000 moviegoers to buy a ticket and see the film during our premier weekend," said Goodman in a press release. "I hope people feel as I do, that this is really the community’s film and they can have a direct impact on its success."

Goodman will host a Q&A after each screening.

The goal is to generate a high per-screen average and attract interest from a distributor. Goodman has screened the film at roughly 10 festivals during the past year, including AFI Dallas and, most recently, the Cinequest Festival in San Diego.

PHOTO: Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander star in The Last Lullaby." (Special to LaMovBlog)

Times-Pic tracking what's on the ground in New Orleans

Mike Scott, of The Times-Picayune, has a good overview of what's filming in New Orleans. As happens annually, according to Scott, the N.O. industry is experiencing a spring surge.

Coolest bit of reporting?

"A recent Twitter update from a local film-crew member said it all: 'Drought for months and then all of a sudden job offers from everywhere, and different departments even.'"

N.O.-based site tracking incentive news

While pursuing the ongoing story about tax credit legislation, I found a pretty solid resource. Ed Metz, of Robert Berning Productions in New Orleans, just started the Movie Tax Credits Report. The site features news about tax incentive programs from all around the country.

I added a feed widget to my blog on the right hand side (scroll down a wee bit).

Ed and I spoke last week about his interest in setting up the site. Like many in the biz, he'd noticed a major uptick in discussion about incentive legislation and wanted to provide folks with a resource to find current news.

"All of the activity has gotten very intense," Metz said. "Some states are jumping on board with both feet, and other states are giving it more scrutiny with how the money is spent."

The scrutiny will be particularly intense during the coming weeks as Gov. Jindal, Louisiana Economic Development, legislators and industry leaders begin hammering out legislative plans for 2009.

Monday, March 09, 2009

'The Year One' movie set ... yeah, they still build 'em like they used to

Without question, "The Year One" is the wildest movie set yet built in northwest Louisiana. It's six acres, surrounded by many more acres of desert-looking sand, and stands in for the Biblical city Sodom. The set will get oodles of screen time when the Jack Black comedy debuts June.

Times photographer Greg Pearson (his work below) and I got a tour of it last week, led by Phillip Jordan Brooks. Brooks now spends his weekdays showcasing the set to scouts. The set hopes to book another picture there, and really it could be re-dressed as anything from Sodom to a stereotypical Middle Eastern village to a modern-day sword-and-sandal epic to a western. Who knows, but the site has tons of potential for future filming.

Here's a little about Brooks (pictured), who some may recognize as a stage actor who graduated from Centenary College's Marjorie Lyons Playhouse. He's also a filmmaker who shot the war short "Deliberate" in the bowels of Shreveport Municipal Auditorium.

After Brooks graduated, he began eying the film industry and ultimately landed his biggest movie industry gig on "The Year One" as assistant location manager.

He's between movie jobs right now, so he's focusing his efforts on developing a script of his own: a suspense thriller tentatively titled "Modern Day Lotus." Not much detail yet, except to say it's set in northwest Louisiana and that Brooks is modeling his efforts after those of director Jeffrey Goodman, who funded and filmed "The Last Lullaby" locally. If you want to get in touch with Brooks, just lemme know.

Nu Image/Millennium pressing forward with studio

Did you catch part 3 of the miniseries? By the end of April, Nu Image/Millennium Films hopes to begin building their $8M studio in the Ledbetter Heights neighborhood. Later today, I'll post some shots of key pieces of local infrastructure.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Two stories on the industry today

We published two stories today: one on the current slowdown in the local film industry, and another that looks at the competitiveness of Louisiana's film incentives. Within the next six to eight weeks, there will continue to be a lot of behind the scenes talk about incentives, and whether or not they should be solidified or strengthened. The Legislature convenes April 27.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Animated short to be produced in The Shreve

Shreveport’s movie industry is opening a new frontier.

Children’s author and moviemaker William Joyce has teamed with producers Lampton Enochs and Alissa Kantrow to found DigiLou Studios. The animation studio will produce a short animated film called “The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore.” The project is early in development.

According to a press release, DigiLou Studios is a cooperative effort between the founders, LSU-Shreveport and the Louisiana Economic Development Department. The project is being developed with the help of seasoned animators John Miralles and Raffaele Scaduto-Mendola, who teach in LSUS’s animation and visual effects program.

Joyce, an acclaimed children’s author and TV producer living Shreveport, carries an expanding movie résumé. He helped conceive characters for “Toy Story” (1995) and “A Bug’s Life” (1998), and took on producing roles for “Robots” (2005) and “Meet the Robinsons” (2007).

Enochs and Kantrow cofounded Louisiana Production Consultants, a Shreveport-based company that has lured numerous movie and TV projects to northwest Louisiana. Titles include “The Mist,” “Wonderful World,” “The Killing Room” and “Tekken.”

“The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore” should be completed in 2010, according to the release.

There is no further information at this time. When more details become available, I'll let you know.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Looking for trade training opps? FIT has 8

The Film Industry Training Program is offering 8 training opportunities in the following trades: hair, scenic painting, props, sound, set dressing, makeup, wardrobe and special effects.

Classes begin March 23. They're free. To apply, call Cyndi Brenner at 318.682.5680. (I'd hurry.)

All are five days per week, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and taught by film industry pros.

Classes last three weeks, except for special effects (six weeks).

Program is a partnership between Louisiana Production Consultants and Louisiana Technical College: Mansfield Campus, which received grant money.

Observe SLJ Day with 'Pulp Fiction'

Don't believe there was a Samuel L. Jackson Day in Shreveport? Believe it.

And celebrate it Monday at the Robinson Film Center with a screening of "Pulp Fiction."

When? 7:30 p.m. Monday (March 9).

Eats? Big Kahuna burgers and $5 milkshakes.

RFC is dusting off some other dandies, too: On Friday, "Citizen Kane" opens. Ever heard of it? On March 27, the monthly Friday Night Freakout breaks out the Wii bowling for "The Big Lebowski." Dude. ... Correction: The Dude.

PHOTO: Samuel L. Jackson spoke to students at the CCAA Balistine Hopkins Head Start Center in Shreveport on March 9, 2007. (Shane Bevel/The Times)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A view from New Orleans

Yesterday, in direct response to observations about New Orleans' production levels, I sent the following three questions to Jennifer Day, director of the New Orleans Office of Film & Video. Here are her answers.

Question: Are you experiencing a surge in production of late? If you are, what do you attribute it to?

Answer: I wouldn't necessarily say that we're seeing a "surge" of production. New Orleans experienced a record-breaking year in 2008 so this current pace, while slightly less than 2008, is similar to the level of activity that we experienced last year during these quarters. Considering the current economic climate and increasing competition from other incentivized states, we are very pleased with the slate we will be hosting over the coming months.

What we all have to realize is that during times of economic hardship such as these, production incentives like the ones offered by Louisiana, become vital to production. Increasingly projects must look for quality incentive states in which to do business. In many cases incentives are the key to getting films made period. That is why our lobbying efforts to stabilize the current production credits at a competitive rate will be critical. Our communities must demand that our lawmakers take action not only retain the millions of dollars our communities are reaping but allow the Louisiana industry to move forward competitively to capture even more business.

Q: Has anything changed in the way that New Orleans markets itself to the industry?

A: We are always striving to improve upon our marketing strategies and strengthen the New Orleans and Louisiana brand. One of the most powerful techniques that all film industry professionals in Louisiana can engage is superior customer service. Here in Louisiana we see a fair amount of repeat business which means that our clients are happy with what we have to offer. From the hundreds of Louisiana vendors to our workforce- all who service film and television projects must work harder and more brilliantly to continue this trend.

I feel so honored to represent New Orleans and all the city and the region have to offer. The state Office of Entertainment Industry Development has done a tremendous job promoting the state and the New Orleans brand is extremely potent. We are a world-class city with an amazingly diverse range of resources from locations to hotel accommodations. Here at the New Orleans Office of Film & Video we are always looking for the most efficient way to communicate our strengths to as many markets as possible. Film offices across the state will be traveling to the Association of Film Commissioners International's Locations Trade Show in April. This show is a staple in our marketing activities and allows for networking in Los Angeles which is still the mecca for the feature film industry.

Q: What's your outlook on production activity in N.O. for the near future?

A: For the near future our market looks to be stable. For the first two quarters of 2009 the Greater New Orleans production hub will have hosted 5 major projects (and that is not including documentary, still photography, commercial, or music video work). We are currently courting another 5 projects that could possibly shoot later this year. That being said, we are working diligently everyday here in the office to keep the idea of doing business in New Orleans, Louisiana at the forefront of industry professionals thoughts. But again, stabilizing our production incentives in April will be THE most important issue for continued success. I urge all who support the Louisiana film industry to contact their local film office to learn how they can participate in our lobbying efforts.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

'The Story of Bonnie and Clyde' to shoot mostly in Louisiana, Mississippi

I just got off the horn with Tonya S. Holly, writer and director of "The Story of Bonnie and Clyde." It's a $15M, three-state project and will spend most of its eight-week shoot in Louisiana and Mississippi, Holly said. The project aims to commence production in St. Francisville (Angola prison) during mid-April.

"It's very organized, and it's not bouncing from state to state," Holly said. After completing the Louisiana shoot, "The Story of Bonnie and Clyde" will move to Mississippi (based in Philadelphia) and finally Alabama. "Unfortunately, we can't go everywhere Bonnie and Clyde went."

Local crewmembers and history buffs will be happy to know that the town of Gibsland -- about 40 minutes east of Shreveport -- is still in the mix as a possible location. Bonnie and Clyde were killed near there in a shootout ... with the law!

Hilary Duff and Kevin Zegers will star, and Holly is currently casting the final roles.

"I'm being very picky about casting," Holly said. Don't expect "The Story of Bonnie and Clyde" to be a remake of the classic 1967 film. It's rather a new adaptation of a well-known story and legend. I took from our conversation that this project will delve deeper into motive, character and luv. "Of course I can't call it a true story. The only people who know the truth are Bonnie and Clyde."

More about it here and here.

Monday, March 02, 2009

State releases economic impact study

The Office of Entertainment Development released an economic impact study today. The study was authored by Economics Research Associates. After my first read, here's what I find interesting:
  • The state attracted 135 movie and TV projects between 2002 and 2007 that qualified for state tax credits. In 2008 alone, the number of projects was 80.
  • In-state production and post-production expenses have steadily increased from year to year. In 2005, projects spent $238.6 million directly in Louisiana. In 2007, the number was $429.2 million.
  • During 2007, an average movie and TV project spent an average of $5.9 million in Louisiana (on in-state expenditures). In 2002, the number was $4 million. In 2005, the number was $6.6 million.
  • Between 2001 and 2007, employment in the state’s motion picture industry grew 22 percent annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • In 2007, the motion picture industry directly employed 3,310 workers in Louisiana. An additional 2,920 jobs were supported indirectly, for a total of 6,230 jobs which earned $203.7 million in wages. The average salary among all these jobs was about $32,700.
  • Wages within the state’s motion picture increased 8.2 per percent per year between 2001 and 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • The State of Louisiana will issue an estimated $115.1 million in tax credits for productions made in 2007 and recoup $14.6 million in state taxes as a direct result of these projects. The incentive program amounts to a cost of $100.5 million for the State of Louisiana.
  • In calculating the impact of the motion picture industry on the state’s economy, the report noted that $429.2 million of direct in-state spending for 2007 ultimately amounted to $763 million of economic benefit to Louisiana, when things like rents, royalties, profits, dividends, property taxes and various indirect benefits are factored in. That means that $6.64 of new spending, or economic stimulus, was generated for every $1 in tax credits issued by the state.

What’s up for March

Here's the latest update from the state's Office of Entertainment Industry Development:

Welcome to (225) 342-FILM, the official hotline of Louisiana Entertainment. Here's what's happening for the first week of March 2009:

The independent feature film "Leonie" starring Emily Mortimer is in pre-production in Metairie with shooting scheduled for April 13 through May 15. Resumes are being accepted by e-mail at leoniemovie@gmail.com.

The Midgard Entertainment and Red Pictures feature film "Punishment" is in pre-production in Hammond with shooting scheduled from June 1 through July 1. Resumes are being accepted by e-mail at punishment@rocketmail.com.

The Warner Bros. feature film "Jonah Hex" starring Josh Brolin and John Malkovich is in preproduction in the New Orleans area with shooting scheduled from mid-April through the end of June. Resumes for crew and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at jonahhexnola@gmail.com.

The Nu Image/Millennium feature film "The Expendables" starring Sylvester Stallone, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li and a host of others is in pre-production in Jefferson Parish and the New Orleans area with shooting scheduled for the this spring. Resumes for crew only and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at theexpendablesmovie@gmail.com.

The independent feature film "Dead of Night" starring Brandon Routh is in pre-production in the New Orleans area with approximately seven weeks of principal photography scheduled to begin the first week of April. Crew resumes only are being accepted by e-mail at deadofnightcrewresumes@gmail.com.

The independent feature film "The Chameleon" starring Famke Jannsen and Ellen Barkin is shooting in Baton Rouge through March 6. Inquiries are being accepted by fax at (225) 610-1670 (no headshots please).

The Nu Image/Millennium feature film "Cool Dog" is in production Shreveport with shooting scheduled from February 17 through mid-March. Resumes and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at cooldogproductions@gmail.com.

The independent feature film "My Last Goodbye" is in pre-production in the Lafayette area with ten weeks of shooting set to begin March 30. Resumes and headshots are being accepted by email at wxartinc@gmail.com.

The independent feature film "American Gospel" is in development in the Baton Rouge with shooting scheduled for this spring and summer. Resumes are being accepted by e-mail at americangospel@gmail.com.

The HBO television series pilot "Treme" is in pre-production in New Orleans with shooting scheduled for March 9th through 31st. Resumes for crew and inquiries are being accepted by email only at blowndeadlineprod@gmail.com. For Treme's extras casting, please visit www.couloncasting.com or call (504) 569-0683.

The HBO television series "True Blood" starring Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer will shoot portions of the series in the Baton Rouge area in June. Resumes and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at truebloodbr@gmail.com.

The Disney Channel television series "The Imagination Movers" is in pre-production in Harahan with shooting scheduled to start in late March. Resumes for crew are being accepted by e-mail at imaginationmovers1@earthlink.net.

The Films in Motion feature film "Wrong Side of Town" starring Rob Van Dam and Batiste is shooting in Baton Rouge shooting scheduled to begin in late March. Resumes and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at info@filmsinmotion.com.

Soft prep for the Bullet Films feature films "Jaws of the Mississippi," "Medusa," and "Wolf" has begun in Lafayette. Resumes and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at jobs@bulletfilms.net.

The Most Wanted Films feature film "Video Girl" starring Meagan Good is shooting in Baton Rouge through late March. Inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at info@mostwantedfilms.com.

And for more information about the film and television industry in Louisiana please visit us online at www.louisianaentertainment.gov.