Louisiana Is the New L.A.

Entertainment industry expats have settled in the Bayou State, finding a welcome change of pace in a new production hub

John Schneider, pictured, had lived in Los Angeles from 1979 — when he began starring in “The Dukes of Hazzard” — until four years ago, when he became enamored of Louisiana while shooting a film on location there. He decided to stay and open a production facility geared toward independent filmmakers. Located midway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the riverfront location features a 5,000-sq.-ft. production stage and post facilities.

“I noticed an entirely different work ethic here,” Schneider says. “There’s a very talented, eager workforce, but they have a switch that they turn off between work and play, and they play harder. In Louisiana, there’s dirt, mud, swamps, alligators and life — and people generally do what they like to do and take great pride in it. There’s no angst-laden complaining. You never know if a guy has $4 or $4 million.”

“Louisiana is very European in thought process and how we approach events and food,” says producer Alicia Allain, who lived in Los Angeles for several decades before relocating in 2007. “It’s not rigid. Life moves at a slower pace and it’s not as dog-eat-dog.”

“The people are my favorite thing about living here,” says Emily Marshall, a television food stylist who went to New Orleans a year ago for a job and stayed on because she met the man she’s going to marry. “I’ve never been in a place where people were more interested in getting to know you. They want to talk to you. If I’m at the grocery counter, I’m going to have a conversation. The average person is invested in the community. That’s very different from Los Angeles.”

“I have always told people that Louisiana is like another country” says Nate Jones, a production designer and art director who relocated in 2010 with his wife, Michelle, also an art director and a designer. There should be passports to enter and leave. People here are warmer and more welcoming.”

Jones adds that the move has made a big difference for their family, which includes two young children. They own their home in New Orleans and have a second place in Baton Rouge. “I don’t spend an hour on the 101 wondering if I should have taken side streets,” Jones says. “I don’t worry I’m going to get a ticket because I parked at a meter and it’s almost 4 p.m.”

Still, he does miss the beach and Thai food at midnight that he can get in L.A., he admits.

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