H’wood answers as Bayou beckons

'Déjà vu' first pic to plan Big Easy shoot since Katrina

When Tony Scott signed back on last week to helm the Touchstone/Jerry Bruckheimer pic “Deja Vu” after dropping out of the project just two weeks earlier, word came that the pic’s return to New Orleans was the main factor that lured him back.

Pic is the first to enter into serious talks to shoot in New Orleans since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita left the city flooded and empty.

If all goes well, it will start shooting in New Orleans in late January or early February.

There hasn’t been a lot of news out of New Orleans in recent days, but Alex Schott, executive director of the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Film & Television Development, says the Big Easy should be ready to host shooting soon.

Schott says hotels are “getting up and running” and that police and other services should be available for shooting by the time “Deja Vu” hits town.

Local crews are eager for the work. “It’s just a matter of tracking them down,” says Schott.

Many union crew members displaced by Katrina have migrated to Shreveport, which has become Louisiana’s film hotbed overnight.

More than half IATSE Local 478’s membership of 350 people lost their homes in the New Orleans flooding, says the local’s business agent, Mike McHugh. Some 10% have left the state altogether, but new members have taken their place.

Typically, Louisiana shoots hire 10% or so of their IATSE members from around the Southeast, but McHugh says he’s seeing more local hires as producers make an effort to help those displaced by Katrina.

Those who stayed are already paying double rent: mortgages on their lost New Orleans homes plus housing out of town for their families. So pics shooting in New Orleans will likely have to provide crew housing, as those in Shreveport are doing.

“I’m telling (producers) if they don’t do something, nobody’s going to take their job,” says McHugh.

Coincidentally, officials in Jefferson Parish are eyeing a vacant lot that was slated to become a parking lot for soundstages as a possible site for a FEMA trailer village dedicated to film workers.

“I told my members that that will be the only FEMA village that’ll be fun,” says McHugh.

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