Friday, July 31, 2009

'The Collector' rips into local theaters

Opening today in theaters is "The Collector," a horror flick shot in The Shreve in early 2008. It was known as "The Midnight Man" while filming.

Some critics don't seem to love it. "The Collector" has been given the "torture porn" label, which will attract as many moviegoers as it will deflect.

Writer/director Marcus Dunstan penned a few of the "Saw" flicks and "Collector" marks his first time the director's chair. How did he do?

Says The Austin Chronicle: "This is Dunstan's feature debut, and both he and co-writer Melton have Project Greenlight's 'Feast' on their screenwriting CVs, as well as entries 4-7 of the Saw films, but if anything, 'The Collector' ends up feeling like a series of leftover gore gags and audio stingers from those earlier, freakier horror shows. It'll probably get your date to crawl into your lap (or ask for some earplugs), but 'The Collector' feels like the final, welcome nail in the bizarrely popular torture-porn coffin."

Says "To say that 'The Collector' is a torture-porn movie of a particularly vile and hateful sort is already to waste more words than the picture merits. Still, gore fans should be aware that this is not an especially scary film in any but the most primitive big-boo sense. It's a monotonous procession of gouged eyes, crushed hands, snapped necks, ripped guts, barbed-wire bindings, fish-hook torments and nail-board impalings."

But, hey, let's be fair and include a few words from a critic who loves him some torture porn. Writes MrDisgusting for "Most impressive about this new slasher/torture hybrid is the debut of a potential horror icon. The Collector (played by Juan Fernandez) is a creepy character that has two different colored eyed and an S&M-esque mask tied tight to his face (you can see him in the one sheet). His motives take a cue from classic slashers as it’s as simple as 'he just wants to own you.' There’s no revenge or idiotic motive behind this mask, he’s quite simply EVIL."

Sounds like my plumber.

SORTA LAME GIVEAWAY: A free "Soul Men" poster to the first commenter who correctly identifies the house/basement where much of this was filmed!

Louisiana Film Museum in works for NOLA

Did you know that Louisiana has been in the motion picture business for more than a century?

To honor the state's production history, a group is aiming to open a Louisiana Film Museum in New Orleans.

What might you learn there? Northwestern Louisiana readers would be curious to discover the following tidbit about the making of "The Horse Soldiers," which I found in The Times' archives: "On Dec. 5, 1958, during filming on a Natchitoches bridge, actor Fred Kennedy fell off a horse, broke his neck and died."

If all goes well, the Louisiana Film Museum will open by Sept. 1 at the Riverwalk Marketplace at One Poydras Place.

I recently received a note from the museum's executive director, Jeffrey Pipes Guice.

Guice wrote: "We have over 250 items (posters, stills, costumes, props) that will be on display from the 400+ movies and television shows that have been filmed in Louisiana since 1908."

The group also aims to build a website that digs a bit deeper. Noted Guice: "We are also in discussions with Redstick Internet to redesign and launch our more comprehensive website at the same time. The new website will include all movies from the past as well as current and future productions. We will also feature a database of actors and sound tracks for each movie."

For more info, log on to

PHOTO: John Wayne in John Ford's "The Horse Soldiers," which was partly filmed in Natchitoches. The movie got a world premiere at The Shreve's Strand Theatre on July 17, 1959 (AP Photo).


For fun, I'm posting a 2004 editorial by James Gardner, former mayor of The Shreve.

Published Aug. 22, 2004, in The Shreveport Times.

The Duke comes to Shreveport

By James Gardner

In early November 1958, my duties as mayor took me to the Shreveport Regional Airport to participate in a welcoming ceremony for a group of Hollywood film people, including John Wayne. The event concluded with me having some unexpected private time with a hung over actor who loved trees.

The occasion was the arrival in Shreveport of the cast for a movie called The Horse Soldiers that was to be filmed near Natchitoches. It was a movie to be based on the Civil War exploits of Col. Benjamin Henry Grierson and his raid with 1,700 Union calvary troopers from La Grange, Tenn., to Baton Rouge in the spring of 1863.

The Horse Soldiers was to feature several notable Hollywood stars, including William Holden, but clearly "the star" was John Wayne. In 1958, he was a vigorous 51 years old and had already achieved fame in such movies as Fort Apache, Red River, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and The Quiet Man. Several thousand area residents were at the airport to catch a glimpse of the famous man on a beautiful late fall afternoon.

When the Hollywood group stepped off the plane they were greeted by a delegation of local officials, including myself, some Shreveport personal friends, Chamber of Commerce representatives and Miss Shreveport. An honor guard of the Dixie Drill Platoon from the Fair Park High School JROTC unit, dressed in Civil War era uniforms, gave the visitors a saber salute.

After the official welcome ceremony was concluded, there was a brief informal visitation on the airport tarmac. There were further plans for the group, but Wayne indicated he desired to go directly to his hotel. I was given the welcome assignment to drive him to the Captain Shreve Hotel, which was located downtown.

At the airport, surrounded by fans, Wayne had been the picture of energy and vitality, but his countenance changed immediately as soon as we were alone in my automobile. As I tried to make conversation, he informed me he had partied virtually all night long and had slept only two hours -- which was the reason he desired to go directly to the hotel. It was a way of telling me that he preferred no conversation, which I only viewed as a challenge.

In 1958, there was no Interstate 20 to provide a fast drive from the airport to downtown. I chose a somewhat out-of-the way route to pass some recent city street improvements and the then-new Confederate Memorial (now LSU Health Sciences Center) and Schumpert hospitals.

We drove over the Linwood overpass and then passed the recently opened City Hall on Texas Avenue. I continually "pointed with pride" but John Wayne said absolutely nothing. Then we turned off Texas Avenue onto Grand Avenue (now named for Elvis Presley), passing the then newly air conditioned Municipal Auditorium.

Suddenly John Wayne was alert and animated but by nothing that I had said or pointed out. It was the Oakland Cemetery that caught his eye.

"Those trees are magnificent," he exclaimed. "They are absolutely beautiful. We have nothing like that in California."

Unfortunately, many of those trees that caught the attention of John Wayne in 1958 have fallen victim to age and storms. But he brought to my attention how easy it is to just accept the beauty around us. Oakland Cemetery had not been on my list of things to brag about.

James Creswell Gardner is a former mayor of Shreveport.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

'Invisible Children' screens tonight at RFC

Documentary followers: At the Robinson Film Center tonight, there's a good opportunity to participate in a Q&A about "Invisible Children: The Rough Cut." The doc focuses on child soldiers in Uganda, and screens tonight at 7:30 p.m. (It's a one-time event. Free, but $5 donation requested.)

Reports RFC's online newsletter, "A member of the organization Invisible Children – which organizes and hosts screenings of the film around the country to raise awareness of this issue – will be on-hand to participate in a post-screening discussion."

Who is Invisible Children? According to its website: "As a non-profit we work to transform apathy into activism. By documenting the lives of those living in regions of conflict and injustice, we hope to educate and inspire individuals in the Western world to use their unique voice for change. Our media creates an opportunity for people to become part of a grassroots movement that intelligently responds to what's happening in the world."

Learn more by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

On Jeffrey Wright speaks out on 'W.' arrests

Have you checked out Jeffrey Wright's recent CNN column regarding racial bias and the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.?

The actor draws parallels to his own arrest in Shreveport in July 2008 at a downtown bar. To refresh, "W." was holding its wrap party at the Stray Cat, and actors Wright, Josh Brolin and five crew members were arrested after an incident.

Wright offers a clear first-person account, so I'll leave the details to him. He writes on

"I was arrested last July in Shreveport, Louisiana, outside a bar where dozens of members of the cast and crew of the movie 'W.' and I had gathered to celebrate the end of filming. There was no bar brawl as widely reported -- nor even a pre-election political argument.

"Nine police cars and a fire engine responded; seven people were arrested. Two of the seven suffered minor head wounds at the hands of the Shreveport police. Josh Brolin and I were pepper sprayed by cops, and while face down in the street, I was made to feel the business end of a Taser.

"The truth of what led to the whole morass has never been accurately reported. I was asked to leave the bar by a white female bartender who took exception to a comment I made.

"As with Professor Gates, the police in my case backed unquestioningly the suspicion of a white woman that the black man she accused must be guilty of something. Once that die of accusation was cast, a ghost of racial bias, misperception, and the potential abuse of police authority was set free to make mischief."

I urge you to read the entirety of Wright's column to clearly understand the context of his statements. It's a supremely interesting read.

Also, take note of Wright's account of a private conversation with Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover. Wright writes:

"Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover is known as a law-and-order mayor. The day after the encounter, in the presence of his police chief, Glover apologized to me and privately acknowledged that while most Shreveport's cops were good, there were some 'devils' among them.

"In public meetings regarding the 'W.' incident, however, he held fast that the responding officers acted appropriately. Either Glover's public statement was dead wrong, or the joke was on us."

PHOTO 1: Jeffrey Wright (Wikipedia Commons).

PHOTO 2: In this bystander photograph taken on the night of July 12, 2008, actor Josh Brolin (left) holds onto his "W." costar Jeffrey Wright on a Shreveport sidewalk outside the Stray Cat bar. The pair were sprayed with pepper spray just after this was taken. (Submitted photo to The Times)

Monday, July 27, 2009

What's on tap for Louisiana: July 27

Here's the latest update from the state:

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

Pre-Production (9)

The Sony Pictures feature film Battle: Los Angeles starring Aaron Eckhart is in pre-production in Louisiana with shooting scheduled for Shreveport from September 9 - October 9 and Baton Rouge from October 11- December 10. Resumes and inquires are being accepted by fax at (225) 330-6961 (no headshots, please).

The Disney feature film Secretariat starring Diane Lane is in pre-production in South Louisiana with shooting scheduled from September 28 through December 4. Resumes and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at

The Screen Gems feature film Straw Dogs starring Alexander Skarsgard, James Marsden, and Kate Bosworth is in pre-production in Shreveport with shooting scheduled to begin August 17 for eight weeks. Resumes and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at

The independent feature film The Somnambulist is in pre-production in New Orleans with shooting scheduled from August 10 through August 29th. Resumes and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at

The Nu Image/Millennium feature film The Mechanic starring Jason Statham will begin pre-production in New Orleans on August 10 and will shoot for nine weeks beginning October 14. Contact details are coming soon.

The Films in Motion feature film Wrong Side of Town Part II starring Rob Van Dam and Batiste is soft-prep in Baton Rouge with three weeks of shooting scheduled for late August and September. Resumes and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at

The Bullet Films feature film Monster Wolf is in pre-production in Lafayette with shooting scheduled from September 21 through October 14. Resumes and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at

The Bullet Films feature film Swamp Shark is in soft-prep in Lafayette with shooting in Lafayette scheduled from Oct. 26 – November 18. Resumes and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at

The independent feature film Keep It Together will begin pre-production in late August and will shoot for five weeks in the New Orleans area. Details are coming soon.

Now Filming (4)

Horizon Entertainment’s feature film Father of Invention starring Kevin Spacey, Camilla Belle, Heather Graham, Virginia Madsen, Johnny Knoxville and Craig Robinson is shooting in the New Orleans area through July 31. Inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at

The second season of the September Films A&E reality television series The Exterminators starring Billy Bretherton is shooting in the Shreveport area through the end of August. Inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at

The Disney Channel children’s television series The Imagination Movers is shooting in Jefferson Parish through September 17. Resumes and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at.

The Most Wanted Films feature film Death House is shooting in Baton Rouge through August 15. Inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at

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

City of Shreveport confirms, comments on 'Battle: Los Angeles'

I just received the following press release about "Battle: Los Angeles." It includes confirmation from city officials, executive producer. Read on:

July 27, 2009


The Columbia Pictures feature film, “Battle: Los Angeles” starring Aaron Eckhart (“The Dark Knight”), will begin principal photography in the Shreveport-Bossier area on Wednesday September 9, 2009.

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman and produced by Neal H. Moritz and Jeffery Chernov, the action packed Sci-fi feature is about a Marine platoon that faces-off against an alien invasion in Los Angeles, California.

For one full month - September 9 through October 9, 2009 Shreveport-Bossier will be the site of that alien invasion. “Battle: Los Angeles” actors, crews and stuntmen will shoot all of its battleground action scenes, high speed chases and explosions in Shreveport-Bossier. And after wrapping-up here, “Battle” heads to Baton Rouge for the completion of filming.

“I am extremely pleased that a significant part of the movie’s locations are in our area as this was literally a battle to compete with other cities to get it here,” says Shreveport Mayor Cedric B. Glover.

“We are very excited that the producers of “Battle: Los Angeles”, have chosen the Shreveport-Bossier City area to shoot its primary location scenes, we look forward to the battle in our LA,” says Bossier City Mayor Lorenz Walker.

More details about the filming of the Sony project will be announced at a news conference set for mid-August. “Stay tuned, because this will be the most action packed film project that we have ever had in our area,” says Arlena Acree, Director of Film, Media and Entertainment.

“I want to extend a huge thank you to Mayor Glover, Mayor Walker, Arlena Acree, and the people of Shreveport-Bossier,” says executive producer Jeffery Chernov. “We needed a freeway and the City with the support of DOTD delivered. They knew what it would take to get this movie, and they stepped up big time.”

'Streets of Blood’ spills onto DVD Tuesday

Has the summer blockbuster schedule come up short in the old violence department? Of course it has.

"Streets of Blood," a movie starring Val Kilmer, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Sharon Stone, gets released on DVD Tuesday. It was shot in The Shreve last summer and produced by Studio Ops/Nu Image/Millennium Films.

It's about cops, murder, New Orleans and a post-Katrina criminal underworld.

Of course I haven't seen a final film but I watched a few minutes of a first cut when I visited the set last summer. (That's when 50 Cent playfully thumped me on the chest for nearly blowing an interview opportunity. I was led to mistake him for Kilmer, but that's another story.)

From the footage, I'm going to make a wild guess "Streets of Blood" isn't a family film. Pretty violent. A lot of gun play. People without clothes. And yes, a few dead things. All about corruption and drugs and the law breaking the law to maintain the law. Kind of like "The Shield" unrated. The teaser is perhaps representative of what to expect.

A few post-Katrina flood scenes were filmed at the Louisiana Wave Studio, which was built by "The Guardian" (2006) and also booked a couple days for "I Love You, Phillip Morris" (2010).

Are you excited for "Streets of Blood?" Disappointed by a DVD release? Are you playing hooky from work? Is it good? Bad? Let me know.

Friday, July 24, 2009

For movies, who tells you where to go?

Jeffrey Goodman, director of the locally made indie "The Last Lullaby," is pondering some intriguing contradictions today on his MovieMaker blog. He wrote:

We’re in an interesting time. Easiest time ever to make a movie. Hardest time ever to monetize the finished product. Easiest time ever to find an outlet for your finished movie. But with a proliferation of outlets comes a decrease in the importance of each outlet.

It’s fragmented out there. Everyone is getting their information from so many different sources. How as independent moviemakers, with very limited marketing budgets, do we possibly break free of this quagmire?

Click here to join the conversation.

A follow-up statement catches my eye as something worth pondering on LaMovBlog. He writes:

It’s become harder for distributors to market their movies. They have to spend more to get people’s attention in an increasingly noisy and fragmented world.

Let's turn this around and help the director: If the moviegoing world is getting increasingly noisy and fragmented, where do you, as a moviegoer, learn about new movies? A website? Word of mouth? Facebook? Celebrity/industry Twitter follows? Trailers? An iPhone ap? A theater? A blog? A news aggregator? A newspaper? A magazine? My friend Steve? (My advice: ignore Steve.)

Put another way: In the last few months, what media source/buzz source has most influenced your moviegoing habits?

Where do you get the most reliable movie news (and do you consider it news or something else)? One source, or many? And do you read it, or watch it?

Me? I'm traditional. I like great writing. For reviews, I'm hooked on The New York Times, The Washington Post and reviews I find through For buzz? My inbox. Festival coverage. Entertainment mags. I also watch a lot of classic film, so I rely on critical anthologies like a current favorite, "American Movie Critics: An Anthology from the Silents until Now."

Heck, even Netflix's recommendations have changed the way I find movies. (Have to hand it to that algorithm thingie. It works.)

I also prize recommendations from filmmakers and film industry sources. Case in point: Jon Rothell (who made the short "Silent Treatment") recommended "Songs from the Second Floor." Superb. Chris Jay drew me to "Goodbye Solo." Again, superb.

Who tells you where to go?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

'Battle: Los Angeles' coming to The Shreve

Did you catch the news on Twitter, or on (I'm using Twitter a lot these days to get the word out.)

Details broke out of The Advocate and the Times-Pic after a Wednesday press conference held in Baton Rouge.

The Aaron Eckhart flick will reportedly start by spending a month in The Shreve and then move to Baton Rouge for the bulk of the shoot. Should require some pretty major resources (both in labor and materials) from both locales.

I expect there will be a press conference in The Shreve at a later date. Wish I could get more details at present.

The state film office tweeted that crew members can fax resumes to the Baton Rouge office at (225) 330-6961. (No actor resumes.) I'll try and get more information about a Shreve office.

Meanwhile, if you have details, please post.

Monday, July 20, 2009

New trailer for 'I Love You, Phillip Morris'

Have you seen the int'l trailer for "I Love You, Phillip Morris," starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor? Shot in the New Orleans area primarily, with a couple days spent at the Louisiana Wave Studio in The Shreve.

The comedy will be released domestically in February 2010. What do you think?

The world is saved: Blayne Weaver, Alexandyr Kent, Brandon Barrera to form boy band

Fake news story of the day:

Facing a deepening recession and a flagging film market, two filmmakers and a journalist have forged ahead with plans to debut a trio called The Walking Haircuts for the Christmas 2009 shopping season. Blayne Weaver and Brandon Barrera debuted the indie comedy "Weather Girl" this weekend at the Robinson Film Center, and decided the time was right to announce the signing of Times writer Alexandyr Kent to their fledgling boy band.

After Saturday's soldout screening, Weaver noted: "The economy needs two things to pull out of a worldwide slump: synchronized dancing and three-part harmony."

Barrera added, "It doesn't hurt that Kent sports hair like Sam Malone."

During the post-screening photo-op, Kent refused to answer questions and instead stated, "Do you really need anything more from us than smart-ass smiles and our four shooters a' blazin'?"


In truth, the "Weather Girl" Q&As were much cooler than they appear here. Thanks to everyone who showed. Here's a note from the Robinson Film Center's Chris Jay:

This weekend was the largest non-Oscar season box office in our history. ...

Following three consecutive sold-out screenings this weekend, Robinson Film Center has added a final opportunity to see the new romantic comedy Weather Girl and meet filmmakers and Bossier City, LA natives Blayne Weaver and Brandon Barrera on Monday, July 20 at 7:45 PM. The film stars Mark Harmon (NCIS) and Tricia O’Kelley (The New Adventures of Old Christine) in the story of a Seattle, WA weather girl who has an on-air meltdown after discovering that her boyfriend (who is also her co-anchor) has been cheating on her. Forced to move in with her slacker brother, she re-builds her life with a little help from her friends.

Writer/director Blayne Weaver and executive producer Brandon Barrera will participate in a Q&A session following the film – these two are natural born entertainers and their Q&A’s this weekend were some of the most lively and fun events we’ve ever hosted at Robinson Film Center.


Chris Jay will be handling the Q&A tonight. If I can wrap up an interview in time, I plan to be in attendance. No autographs, please. Get your tickets here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Also from Blayne Weaver, Brandon Barrera

Have you checked out Secret Identity Production's "Losing Lois Lane" (2006)? Part one is above. Secret Identity is the company of Weaver and Barrera. And kiddies, cover your ears: a bit o' profanity.

'Weather Girl' and fancy haircuts debut tonight

"Weather Girl" debuts tonight at the Robinson Film Center, and three, count 'em, three "walking haircuts" will in be there to make it swell: writer/director Blayne Weaver, executive producer Brandon Barrera, and Times reporter Alexandyr Kent. (Hey, the last one is me!)

Whose hair will prevail? (Brandon Barrera's.) Whose answer will inspire your cat to meow? (Blayne Weaver's.) Whose ego will dissolve when he witnesses nobody begging for his autograph? (I'm not answering that.)

"Weather Girl" runs through July 23.

Screenings with filmmaker Q&As are:
7:30 p.m. tonight (sold out)
7:30 p.m. Saturday (sold out)
3:30 p.m. Sunday (it better sell out!)

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Emmys noms announced; 'True Blood' title design gets nod

Have you checked the list for Shreve-connections?

Outstanding main title design for "True Blood," which is cool, and three nominations in all. (Best cast is its biggest nom, methinks, but "True Blood" was shut out of the majors.)

Season one of "True Blood" spent a few days in Shreveport but was primarily filmed in L.A. (Season two has done some work in Baton Rouge and south La.) The series is largely set in north La., too.

Otherwise, my perusal of the list came up mostly Shreve-free.

"The Librarian: The Curse of the Judas Chalice," which was filmed in Louisiana (New Orleans and Baton Rouge, but not the Shreve), got a three nods, too.

Anybody else notice anything for Louisiana-made projects? If you find anything else, let me know. I'll update as needed.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Little did this Potter fan know he was being interviewed by a real wizard

Tony Bacigalupi isn't afraid to admit he's a Potter fanatic, and you might run into him and other super fans tonight at a midnight screening of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

How big a fan is Tony? While backpacking through Europe he stopped at locations where the Potter movies were filmed. In the picture here, Tony's standing inside Gloucester Cathedral at, as he noted, a "hiding spot used by Harry when listening in on Draco's and Snape's conversation regarding Draco's mission in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

ASIDE: You had me at hello, Tony, but lost me at Draco. Why? I don't read about wizards; I am a wizard. ... Don't believe me? My middle name is Gandalf. I ain't kidding, folks: Alexandyr Gandalf Kent.

I sent Tony a few questions about his trip. Below are his answers.


When you went in search of Harry Potter in Europe, what was the coolest location you visited and why?

TONY: That would have to be Gloucester Cathedral in Gloucester, England. Not only is it one of the most beautiful places in the world but it is also where a lot of important scenes were filmed. A lot of the Chamber of Secrets was filmed in the cloisters such as when they discover the petrified students and the writing on the walls threatening "mudbloods." I had a photo taken of myself at the spot where Harry listens in on an important conversation between Snape and Draco Malfoy which I thought was really cool for a Potter geek like me. lol

GANDALF: What stays with you the most, the books or the movies? Why? And where do you rank "Half-Blood Prince" (the book) within the series?

TONY: This sounds cliche but the books stay with me the most, of course. J.K. Rowling writes in a way where almost EVERY detail is important which, unfortunately, the filmmakers have a hard time keeping everything in. It's hard ranking the last four books because they're all so great and a vital part of the continuity so it changes a lot. However, "Half-Blood Prince" is probably the most mysterious of all the books because they are searching through Voldemort's past that STILL leaves them with questions and it's also the "calm before the storm" that is "The Deathly Hallows."

GANDALF: I'm going to go ahead and call you a rabid fan of the franchise. Really, what is it about the wiz kid that keeps you interested?

TONY: The thing I love about Harry Potter is that he goes through this journey as if it's his job and he does it without arrogance and selfishness. He doesn't do it for the glory. Not only Harry Potter himself but all of the other characters and the magical world within the books that J.K. Rowling created really caught my attention and I even saw traces of it when I went to England.

GANDALF: Since Harry Potter's fate is known to his fans – who populate the entirety of Planet Muggle, one assumes – what remains compelling about these movies? In other words, if you know where they’re headed, why do you stay on for the ride?

TONY: The Harry Potter series is the first set of books where I REFUSED to see the movies first before reading because the books are so amazing that I don't want the experience of reading them tarnished. I see the films as my imagination of the books manifested. It's kind of like seeing the result of someone delving into my mind and translating what they see onto screen and that has always interested me.

UPDATED: 'Weather Girl' poised to smash 'Harry Potter 6' (No, really. I'm not lying.)

UPDATE 1:04 p.m.: Because of brisk ticket sales, RFC added a screening and filmmaker Q&A for 3:30 p.m. Sunday. RFC's Chris Jay will host.

"Weather Girl" is poised to push Harry Potter off his evil box-office throne and into the fiery pit of pop cultural oblivion, according to Robinson Film Center's Chris Jay. OK, I may be blatantly misrepresenting Mr. Jay's email, but I don't care.

How, oh how, can I fabricate this vicious claim? Mr. Jay just sent me a note noting the following:

"Weather Girl," a romantic comedy written and directed by Blayne Weaver, opens Friday at RFC for a weeklong run.

The 7:30 p.m. Friday screening? Sold out.

How about the 7:30 p.m. Saturday? 50 tickets left.

Why? During those screenings, I'll be hosting Q&As with Weaver and executive producer Brandon Barrera. Both are originally from Bossier City and now live and work in Los Angeles. Read more here.

Buy tickets here.

Are people coming to see me? Gosh, no. Weaver and Barrera? Golly, yes!

Take that Warner Bros! And heed my (I mean Mr. Jay's) groundless warning: Indie film will take you down one screen at time.

(I'll be issuing an apology shortly.)

PHOTO: While on the set of "Weather Girl," Tricia O'Kelley secretly plots the demise of the "Harry Potter" franchise. (Special to The Times)

'Haynesville' launches website, opportunities to follow filmmakers

The website for "Haynesville" has gone live, and it's a gas, man.

(I've been waiting months to crack that pun, and admittedly, it's not as rewarding as I had hoped. Oh, well.)

What's cool about the site? It features the first trailer, which will give you a clear idea of the scope of the storytelling. Though a locally produced documentary, "Haynesville" is more than just a piece about a local natural gas play. It's about how that play fits into the global energy crisis.

Enough of me. What does producer/director Gregory Kallenberg have to say?

"I really want this site to be a place where people can stay in touch with 'Haynesville,' but most importantly, I want the site to be a place where everyone can keep up on the important energy issues in the film and the film’s subjects," noted Kallenberg in a press release.

(I'm a bit offended he didn't call me, but that's OK. It's not about me.)

"This is a film about three lives caught in the middle of the largest natural gas discovery in the U.S. and maybe the world," Kallenberg said. "I think Chris Lyon, the editor, did an excellent job getting this big story and its elements into the trailer."

There you have it.

The Shreve should be getting excited about this film. It's not only about us and our ties to a worldwide energy crunch, but it demonstrates that indie documentary filmmaking can be a vibrant part of the local film industry.

Again, enough of me. Want more of "Haynesville?"

Take it as a desktop wallpaper, which is featured above.

Folllow "Haynesville" as a Twitter feed, which is here. Don't Tweet? Then surely you Facebook, which is here.

Not a social networker? Come on, grandma. I guess you and your Web 1.0 friends can just click "Stay Informed" on the homepage. The makers will send you occasional emails about their exploits.

When you visit the homepage, be sure to scroll down to follow the Filmmaker's Blog and the newsy links. All good stuff.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Reaction from Glorioso Casting re: passage of film incentives

Said Ryan Glorioso of Glorioso Casting, a Shreveport company: "It means I can breathe a little easier. I feel like things will pick up at a steady pace. I think that it will mean more work for my people: extras, actors and the folks that will work in my office."

Glorioso Casting is holding an open casting call for "Straw Dogs" on Saturday. Details.

Reaction from Nu Image/Millennium Films re: passage of HB 898

“It means that we’re going to continue to make movies here,” said Diego Martinez, president of Shreveport-based Studio Operations, a division of Nu Image/Millennium Films. “We’ve got two projects that we’ve been deciding on where to go, and they are definitely coming to Louisiana now.”

Studio Operations plans to begin construction of a studio in Shreveport’s Ledbetter Heights neighborhood by the end of July.

La. Gov. Jindal's actions on film industry

In the release, Gov. Jindal said: "These tax incentives are critical tools to give Louisiana a bright economic future. By signing these bills, we’re ensuring that we not only have the ability to remain economically competitive, but that we can continue to move our state forward by making Louisiana the greatest place in the world to find a great paying job and raise a family."

Breaking News: La. Gov. passes HB 898, vetoes SB 245

This means that Louisiana now offers a 30 percent production incentive.

First local reaction: "I’m obviously thrilled. This has been a lot of work by a lot of folks," said Shreveport-based producer Lampton Enochs. "I think this means that we can now reach out to the studios and the independent producers and say that Louisiana is committed as ever to the film industry. … The state that so may people has turned to for successful filmmaking is right back there in the heat of competition."

'Weather Girl' to shine at Robinson Film Center; filmmakers coming for Q&As

Bossier City natives Blayne Weaver and Brandon Barrera are coming back home to present their latest comedy, "Weather Girl." It opens July 17 at the Robinson Film Center.

I'll be hosting Q&As for the 7:30 p.m. screenings on July 17 and July 18.

SYNOPSIS: "A Seattle Weather Girl gets fired after freaking out on‐air over her cheating boyfriend (the anchor), and must move in with her little brother and figure out what she's doing with her life."

STARRING: Tricia O'Kelley, Patrick Adams, Ryan Devlin, Mark Harmon, Kaitlin Olson, Marin Hinkle, Alex Kapp, Jane Lynch, Jon Cryer, Enrico Colantoni.

FILMMAKERS: Blayne Weaver (pictured) wrote and directed "Weather Girl." Barrera was executive producer. The two operate Secret Identity Productions.

DISTRIBUTION: After its limited theatrical run -- which includes Shreveport, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Grand Rapids -- "Weather Girl" will be broadcast on Lifetime.
The movie has secured DVD and digital distribution through Screen Media Films. Regent Worldwide Sales will handle international rights.

COST: The movie's budget? $420,000. Actors worked for $200 per day. Said Weaver, "When you invest in a movie like this, you are really just investing in the people. It's a really great feeling."

WEAVER ON MAKING MOVIES OUTSIDE THE STUDIO SYSTEM: "I believe that what’s changing is that people are going to be following our model a little more. ... There is no different whatsoever in what’s on the screen."

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water ...

Wrong tagline, but same diff: The Robinson Film Center is hosting a members' screening of "Jaws" on Saturday (July 11). Word has it that you'll get to see a pretty cool, and arguably creepy, prop used in the movie. That's all I'm sayin'.

RFC's promo blurb: "Local resident Jimmy Sandefur has amassed a collection of JAWS memorabilia that includes rare theatrical release posters, promotional items, and even a costume worn in the film. See Mr. Sandefur's collection on display the day of the screening, 6:30 PM-8:30 PM. A special, Supporting Cast-only mixer will be held from 5:30 PM-6:30 PM."

Friday, July 03, 2009

‘Straw Dogs’ hosting casting call July 11

Haven't announced one of these in a while!

"Straw Dogs," a Sony/Screen Gems remake starring James Marsden and directed by Rod Lurie, needs extras. A lot of them, so show up July 11 at the Louisiana Boardwalk if you want work!

Glorioso Casting is handling the particulars, and the local casting company has done a lot of work in The Shreve.

Says a press release from Ryan Glorioso (head honcho): "Glorioso Casting, LLC (Harold & Kumar 2, The Mist, The Expendables) is conducting the local casting for the film with open auditions scheduled in July. People of all ages and ethnicities are encouraged to attend as there is a need for more than 1,000 extras in several of the scenes as well as featured extras."

If you can't go to this casting call, register on the GC's website.

Casting call
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 11 (Saturday).
WHERE: Suite 310 (across from Rue 21/Nike), Louisiana Boardwalk, 540 Boardwalk Blvd., Bossier City.
WHAT TO BRING: a recent non-returnable photo (4x6 preferred). If you don't have one, they'll snap one. Bring photo of your car if you want it considered for the film.
NEEDED: Football players and cheerleaders, 18-23 yo, must look high school age; referees; townspeople, adults, 18+ encouraged (children can sign up, but parents must be present on set).
NOTE: movie is doing 4 days of night shoots beginning August 17. Large number of extras needed.
CHA-CHING: these are paid positions. All who attend will be considered. There is no cost to sign up.

Director offering two-day workshop on business of indie filmmaking

Jeffrey Goodman, director of "The Last Lullaby," will host a two-day workshop Sept. 12-13 at the Robinson Film Center, 617 Texas St., Shreveport. Classes go from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with an hour break for lunch. Cost is $350.

Topics include, in no certain order:

  • raising money
  • navigating the world of film distribution
  • how to copyright your material
  • optioning
  • putting together the business plan
  • art of the cold call
  • breaking down the script.

Goodman raised all of the money for "The Last Lullaby," which was shot locally. Currently, it's winding down its theatrical run. (A new poster is featured here.)

"If we are honest about what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong, we'll all get better a lot quicker," he said.

Course is limited to 20 people. To register, contact Goodman at

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Opinion: Promotional contest doesn’t deserve your vote

If you want to determine the winner of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau's current video contest, you better click fast (and often). Top prize is $2,500 from the publically funded agency.

When the online contest was opened up to voters Wednesday, it said it limited a site user to five votes per day.

Wednesday afternoon, that rule went out the window. A message appeared on a contest webpage explaining that day-one votes would be erased. It read:

Due to a possible abuse of the system, the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau has cancelled voting for July 1, 2009. Our rules allow for us to modify the contest. Voting will resume July 2 and end on July 18, 2009. This is to ensure the fairness of the contest.

Also on Wednesday afternoon, Brandy Evans, the bureau's vice president of communications, sent a message to contest participants Wednesday stating:

Thank you for submitting a video for the "Show Us Your Shreveport-Bossier" video contest. Your video was excellent. However, due to possible abuse of the system, the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau has cancelled voting for July 1, 2009. Our rules allow for us to modify the contest. Voting will resume July 2 and end on July 18, 2009. This is to ensure the fairness of the contest.

Voting resumed today, and the five-vote restriction has been eliminated. Now anybody can vote as many times as they like, without restriction, through July 18.

In other words, the most clicks win; who cares about who's attached to the mouse. Do I sound jaded? Hear me out.

Thursday afternoon I asked Stacy Brown, bureau president, to explain what's going on with the rule change.

"We don't know how to make it stop at just five," she said by phone. "Obviously that's not what we really want."

If they could enforce the five-vote rule on the website they would but they can't so they won't.

In answering my questions, the bureau sounded more concerned about publicity.

"We want people to get the word out" about the contest and Shreveport-Bossier, Brown said.

If you measure votes and video views, the word is getting out. As of 7:18 p.m. today, the leading video had tallied 1,837 views, 3,197 votes. The last place video has 11 views, 12 votes. Wednesday, at least two Facebookers noticed vote totals creeping into the thousands, too.

Brown doesn't believe there has been "voter fraud," as it was termed by a contest participant Wednesday.

"So far, it really doesn't look that way," Brown said. "It's about two votes per view. It's not indicating that somebody is sitting there and clicking."

Actually, as of 7:18 p.m., all videos together garnered 7,822 views, 9,559 votes. A better ratio than Brown noted earlier in the day.

Brown later added that the new open voting rules were better: "I really feel like we have opened it up to an even playing field, and I really don't feel like they're upset about it."

Brown again said the contest was successful because it was driving so much interest: "It's really accomplishing our goal of getting the community involved."

I don't question the bureau's site traffic here. Locally, this is a well-promoted contest. But given the bureau's day-one concerns about an "abuse of the system," I do wonder if the videos' many views and votes represent many site visitors, or many fewer.

I'm not naïve about the nature of voting and online contests. On this blog, I sometimes run polls about the movie world. But when I ask you about your favorite candy, I don't give Mike or Ike $2,500 for coming in first. And I assume no one person is responsible for a total of, say, 70 votes, but I also assume some folks vote a few times by clearing the browser's cache.

Now everybody knows that contest participants often recruit their friends to log on and vote for them as often as possible, especially when money or awards are involved. The unapologetic rule of for web contests, like this one, is not "one person, one vote." It's "every click for itself" or a "mob-by-the-mouse" mentality.

Evans' Wednesday email to contest participants supports this notion (but certainly not my rhetoric):

We do recognize that you worked hard on your video. But at the end of the day, we want everyone to have a level playing field. Please tell all of your Facebook, My Space and Twitter friends to go everyday throughout the duration of the contest and vote for you.

And here's what a promotional video's narrator advised contestants to do:

Show us your fun. Show us your world. Show us your Steven Spielberg. Show us what Louisiana's Other Side means to you and you could win $2,500.

Call me crazy or ethical for even suggesting the following: contest rules, especially when dealing with creative works – even as commercially driven as a branding campaign in disguise – should at the very least encourage voters to watch all videos and then make a judgment.

But apparently, that's not what this contest is really about. Here is an excerpt from the contest instructions, which echo Evans' email:

You've got to drum up as many votes as you can for your video. Call your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and anyone else you can persuade to vote for you. Tell them which video is yours, then ask them to go to and vote for you. They can vote for you up to five times in one day! We'll display the number of votes for each video until a few days before the contest ends. So don't think you've got a comfortable lead – a lot can happen in a few days, so keep those votes rolling in!

You think Spielberg would enjoy being associated with a contest that lures in your creative urge and then hooks it by effectively saying, "Drum up votes or you're a loser?"

Can't speak for Stevie baby, but I don't like this campaign's mixed message at all.

But hey, maybe my mind is square. Maybe I'm not hip to a promotional campaign that promises to make you a "star" if you support a brand and lure in your lemmings.

My disappointment is twofold:

  1. The bureau is endorsing a contest, and giving away $2,500, with a minimum amount of vote monitoring. Think no voting restrictions just level the playing field for all possible abusers? By the look or those vote and view tallies, which now vary by the thousands from video to video, I'm going withhold my optimism.
    If the bureau had wanted to restrict individual users to five votes per day, I have been assured that a web programmer could do that.
    On this point, an anonymous commenter pointed out the following:

    So someone can vote for a video 5 times? How stupid is that? Why not capture the IP and make it one vote per IP address. That's how you beat the system. Then the person would have to visit a different location for each vote. Or, more technical, one vote per MAC address which means one vote per piece of hardware.

    What, therefore, will the $2,500 prize winner really have won? Is it the best video – creatively speaking – or simply the most clicked? Which measure is the "fairest" judge?

  2. Secondly, I question the poorly defined purpose of this contest, which appears to be less about awarding a winner and more about building web traffic and reinforcing a branding campaign, "Louisiana's Other Side."
    Again, I'm not naïve: promotional contests often use contestants to build awareness. If an agency can turn your creativity into their profit – with just a $2,500 reward – so benefit both. But accomplishing this by endorsing a toxic notion that creative merit is secondary to popularity? Smells like a stinker to me.
    An alternate view, posted on this blog ostensibly by a tourist bureau rep, says:

    Our purpose for this contest was to encourage the community to participate in all the great things to do and see in Shreveport-Bossier, and to give us their unique perspective on it. We also wanted the community to be excited about the contest and come to the website to watch the videos. That's what they're doing, and we've gotten lots of great feedback.

Well here's some bad feedback: the promotion of this contest is disingenuous at best. The contest voting rules, which changed on day two, don't inspire public trust. Every group involved in this contest – including the bureau, Robinson Film Center, Gorilla Design Studio, Emergent Strategies, Pelican Creek Consulting, CRM Studios, Martin Creative and Pabst Creative, according to the contest rules – should be way more disappointed than me.

The contest is not determining a winner; it's asking you to just click and reinforce a branding campaign. Is that worth $2,500 to you?

Then again, maybe I'm just naïve. I'm using 1,492 words to criticize that very campaign. Priceless publicity, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

CONTEST UPDATE: Voter fraud? Day one votes nixed

Shreve's indie media maven Kathryn Usher just tipped us off about possible online "voter fraud" on the tourist bureau video contest. Check out the message on the contest website, which phrases it as a "possible abuse of the system." Today's voting is canceled; voting resumes tomorrow, says the site.

Usher's Facebook status more bluntly reads: "OMG! DAY ONE OF SBCTB contest! Voter fraud already? Today's votes will not be counted. They thought someone was cheating. I thought it fishy some videos had hundreds even thousands of votes already. I DO NOT KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT THIS. Soiled somehow. I need a King Cake Baby Voo Doo Doll hug. And a nap."

How do you feel about this?

Vote on tourism videos; catch up on state film news

  • The Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau has opened up its Become a Star, Make a Movie campaign for judging. It supports the Louisiana's Other Side branding campaign. Click here to view and judge. Winner nabs $2,500.
  • There is a piece about the current film legislation -- two bills increasing the production incentive from 25 percent to 30 percent await a decision by the governor -- in New Orleans City Business. State Sen. Robert Adley (R-Benton), who sponsored one of the bills, reinforced what he's been saying all along. While in favor of strengthening the incentives, Adley said, "We must find other things outside of just increasing credits to attract this business. ... Where does it stop? It’s the dog chasing its tail. You ultimately catch it and it’s in vain. We’re eventually going to reach a point where there’s no return on the investment we’re making." Read the full article here.
  • There's also a Times-Pic story about a veteran Saint -- recently released -- trying to get his money back on an investment in the Elmwood motion picture studio. Read it here.