'Trespass' finds home in Louisiana

Big breaks by the bayou | Schumacher’s Shreveport shoot | Big Easy location managers tackle difficult tasks

In “Trespass,” the Joel Schumacher-helmed thriller set for release in 2011, Nicole Kidman and Nicolas Cage play a couple taken hostage in their own home.

Since the picture is set in the South and required a Southern-type house in which to shoot, filming in Shreveport was an easy decision to make, per the director. “We found exactly what we were looking for,” he says. “A beautiful house on a lake.”

The perfect location was only part of the attraction. In a few short years, Louisiana has positioned itself as a major film and TV production center that is siphoning off work from the other L.A. — and other filmmaking hubs.

With the Nu Image/Millennium film’s budget set at a tight $40 million, the Pelican state’s aggressive 30% transferable tax incentive “was another major factor in deciding to shoot in Louisiana,” reports “Trespass” exec producer Avi Lerner. “We’ve done 15 pictures there and love it.”

“The cost of living and housing are more reasonable than in other locations, which all helps the bottom line,” adds producer Irwin Winkler, who co-produced with David Winkler and Rene Besson.

Ironically, although Shreveport now boasts several well-equipped studio facilities, including StageWorks and a new $12 million studio built by Nu Image (skedded to open January), the production ultimately opted to build its matching interior sets for the location house in the city’s vast convention center. “We needed very high ceilings, and the city offered us the space,” says Winkler. “We were able to get it for the five weeks we needed to shoot, as well as all the prep time.”

The 50-day shoot also benefited from what the director and producers refer to as “the very high level” of talent now based in the state. “The tax breaks brought the movies and production down there, and those in turn brought the crews and actors,” notes Winkler. “So many people have moved there from Los Angeles, because that’s where the work is now, so you’re getting some of the best technicians in the industry, as well as a great pool of acting talent and great supporting services and infrastructure.”

This made the shoot particularly enjoyable for Schumacher, a veteran of some 40 films (“Phone Booth,” “Batman Forever”), who’s no stranger to shooting in the South. “I shot ‘A Time to Kill’ in Mississippi and ‘The Client’ in Memphis, so it’s familiar territory to me,” he says. “But Shreveport has become a boom town. It’s a fantastic place to work. We cast a lot of local talent in smaller roles, and I’d make a movie with those crews anywhere in the world.”

“Trespass” reunited Schumacher with d.p. Andrzej Bartkowiak, who shot “Falling Down” for him. “We shot this on 35mm because we wanted to make a real ‘movie-movie,’ with a big look,” he explains. “I’d just done ‘Twelve,’ and Nicole had just finished a very small film too. I thought, ‘Let’s do a big scope film,’ which is why I chose Andrzej.”

The film also reunited Schumacher with his stars — he directed Kidman in “Batman Forever” and Cage in “8mm.” “We’re all old friends and have shared ups and downs over the years,” he says.

The only disappointment of the shoot so far? “Everyone’s hoping for an impromptu show every time (Nicole’s husband Keith Urban) visits the set, but he’s very shy. Maybe at the wrap party.”

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