×

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.

More Artisans

  • Crawl Movie

    'Crawl' and Other Disaster Movies Pose Unique Obstacles for Production Designers

    The rampaging fires, earthquakes and storms of disaster movies present unusual challenges for a production: On top of the normal work of creating a film’s lived-in and realistic locations, designers must build sets that the forces of nature can batter, flood and ravage into something completely different. Take “Crawl,” in which a Category 5 hurricane [...]

  • Costume designer Michele Clapton

    Costume Designers Fashion a Plan to Fight for Pay Parity in Upcoming Contract Talks

    The Costume Designers Guild Local 892 is gearing up to fight for pay equity in its 2021 contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, establishing a pay-equity committee to raise awareness of the scale disparity between the mostly female CDG membership and the mostly male membership of the Art Directors Guild Local [...]

  • This photo shows composer Hans Zimmer

    Hans Zimmer on Recreating Iconic Score: 'The Lion King' 'Brought People Together'

    Composer Hans Zimmer is seated at the mixing board at the Sony scoring stage, head bobbing to the music being performed by 107 musicians just a few yards away. He’s wearing a vintage “Lion King World Tour” T-shirt, frayed at the collar. On the giant screen behind the orchestra, two lions are bounding across the [...]

  • On-Location Filming Slides 3.9% in Los

    On-Location Filming Slides 3.9% in Los Angeles in Second Quarter

    Held down by a lack of soundstage space, total on-location filming in greater Los Angeles declined 3.9% in the second quarter to 8,632 shoot days, permitting agency FilmLA reported Thursday. “Although our latest report reveals a decline in filming on location, local production facilities tell us that they are operating at capacity,” said FilmLA president [...]

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    How 'Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood' Turned the Clock Back for Its Shoot

    Crossing the street took months for the crew that turned back the clock 50 years on Hollywood Boulevard for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.” Production designer Barbara Ling created false fronts for buildings that were constructed off-site and installed by crane just ahead of the shoot. Set decorator Nancy Haigh described [...]

  • Just Roll With It Disney Channel

    Disney Channel's Scripted-Improv Comedy Crew Shares How They 'Just Roll With It'

    The title of the new Disney Channel series “Just Roll With It” appears to be as much a directive for its cast and crew as it is a description of the multi-camera hybrid sitcom, which is part scripted and part improv. The plot revolves around the blended Bennett-Blatt family — strict mom Rachel (Suzi Barrett), [...]

  • "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout" cast

    'SpongeBob' Voice Cast on Acting Together in Live-Action for 20th Anniversary Special

    On a brisk morning in February, the members of the voice cast of Nickelodeon’s flagship animated series “SpongeBob SquarePants” gathered to work on a new episode, like they’ve done most weeks over the past 20 years. But instead of being in a recording booth, this time they’ve assembled at a diner in Castaic, Calif., shooting [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content