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.